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Standing Out Among Peers

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Denise Berry

This year’s Miss California pageant will be held in Palm Desert in February. Contestant Denise Berry has no competitors when it comes to life experiences and perspective. Denise spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Army and is now in the Army reserves. She is not the only veteran to compete in a beauty pageant however; Natalie Bray was Miss Tennessee in 1992, Shanna Searless was Miss California in 1992, Lisa Pavlakis was Miss New York in 2001 and Jill Stevens was Miss Utah in 2007. Denise and Jill have more in common than just beauty pageants. They were both medics in the Army, they both achieved the rank of sergeant and they both served our country in combat. Jill was deployed to Afghanistan and Denise will be the first Iraq war veteran ever to compete.

Denise’s experiences will set her above her peers; consider how her answers to these typical pageant questions will differ from the other Miss California contestants:
1.) What has been the most significant accomplishment in your life? Why?
2.) At what point does a girl become a woman?
3.) Do you consider yourself to be a giver or a taker? Why?

As I follow her success, I will wonder what words of wisdom Jill has for Denise.


For more about the story, read the ABC News article: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/assignment_7&id=8458900