Though she didn’t make the top 15 at the recent Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant, Marisa Thomason counts the competition as the “experience of a lifetime.”
The 19-year-old daughter of Tony and Shelly Thomason of Brownstown, who represented Fayette County at the Jan. 19-23 pageant in Springfield, was among the 70 queens competing for the statewide title.
Included were competitions in evening gown, swimsuit and public speaking. Each contestant also prepared a 60-second speech about herself.
“The other girls were great,” she said.
“There was no bickering or arguing. It was a great way to meet new friends from across the whole state.”
She also said that the competition was a confidence-booster.
“Going through it has helped me be more confident, to be able to stand up in front of people and feel more comfortable.”
Composing and delivering her 60-second speech also helped. Here’s what she said:
“'What do you want to be when you grow up?’ If you asked this question to a young child, they may say, ‘I want to be a doctor, a nurse, a firefighter or maybe even a princess.’ But if you would have asked me that question when I was young, I would have told you that I want to be a teacher.
“My passion for young kids started when my cousins Jadyn and triplets, Derek, Brian and Samantha, were born 11 years ago. This passion grew last year. I had a wonderful hands-on learning experience with kindergarteners in their classroom.
“After all the experiences I’ve had in my life, I know that teaching young kids is exactly where God wants me to be. Follow your dreams, follow God’s plan and don’t ever give up. That’s exactly what I’m doing by pursuing a degree in elementary education at Greenville College in hopes to one day teach kindergarten.”
Though the pageant activities kept her busy from Thursday through Sunday, Thomason insists that it was fun.
“I wasn’t nervous or stressed out,” she said. “I just wanted to enjoy the process and glorify God, no matter what happened.
“That’s the way I’ve approached the whole year. It’s been a great time, and everybody I’ve met has been so nice. And the Fayette County Little Miss and Junior Miss have become like my little sisters,” Thomason said.
Winning the title was Brittani Schisler of Lake County. The runner-up positions were filled by Southern Illinois candidates – Lauren Murphy of Montgomery County (first runner-up) and Melissa Mellendorf of Effingham County (second runner-up).
Accompanying Thomason and her parents to the pageant were her team: Fayette County pageant director Kim Fitch, crew member Vicki Koonce, and hair and makeup stylists Sarah Cripe and Kassandra Cunnea, both from Maranatha’s.