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Former Arlington High School student to compete in Miss Washington USA
Mary Welsh wants to inspire, whether it's on the walkway or in the classroom.
With any luck, she'll be able to do both.
The former Arlington High School student will be competing in the Miss Washington USA competition, which takes place Oct. 10-11 at the Highline High School Performing Arts Center in Burien.
"I'm really confident about it," Welsh said. "I feel like I'm going to succeed if I win or not. If I do win, I feel like I'd be really honored."
Welsh current attends Central Washington University and this winter she will be receiving her teaching certificate and degree in early childhood education.
Balancing school and preparing for the pageant has been difficult, Welsh said.
"I've been really busy with my practicum — I've been in the classroom and volunteering at schools around the area," she said. "But I've also been practicing every weekend for the pageant."
David Vanmaren, director for the Miss Washington USA and Miss Washington Teen USA competitions, said young women enter both contests for many reasons.
"It really varies widely on each individual," Vanmaren said. "Some young ladies want to get a great new learning experience, some enter a pageant because they want to build confidence and network and others want to win."
Contestants 18 and older can enter the Miss Washington USA pageant, while girls 14-18 are entered into the Miss Washington Teen USA competition.
Welsh said that each woman in the pageant has had to raise $1,300 in sponsorships in order to compete in Miss Washington USA. She said she has been fortunate to have sponsors donate anywhere from $10 to a couple hundred dollars in order to pay for her clothing, makeup and other supplies she required.
"That's what I love about my community — people are really loving and giving," Welsh said. "They want you to succeed."
As part of being entered into the pageant, Welsh is soliciting votes for Miss Photogenic on www.misswashingtonusa.com.
"I'm not necessarily hoping I win, but I'm just hoping people can see each girl online and ask us questions, like why we want to represent Washington state," Welsh said. "It's also practice for our on-stage questions."
During the two-day competition, Welsh and other pageant competitors will be participating in seminars, photo shoots, discussions and more.
Women will also take part in an interview, and be judged in evening gown and bikini competitions.
"I've been running every day training for it," Welsh said.
The winner of the Miss Washington USA pageant will move on to compete in the Miss USA competition and potentially the Miss Universe pageant.
Welsh said she's hoping to use the competition not only for her career but to further draw attention to the organizations she also participates in.
Welsh is a youth coordinator for the United Service Organization and each year volunteers to help local orthodontist Jason Bourne distribute Halloween candy to service men and women.
She wants to teach kindergarten when she's done with school.
Welsh graduated from Arlington High School in 2002.
"I've been preparing for the past six months," she said. "I know who I am inside and I know what I want and where I'm going. They're not just there to look at a pretty face."