1952 Changed Me

Kelly Schwarzer, guest writer


It had always been my way. No one else’s opinion ever mattered. My world revolved on the latest trends: petticoats and full-blown skirts and the newest shoes. Anything I’d ever wanted would be handed to me . . . except for now.


“Vanessa! You made it! You got into the college you wanted, Congratulations!!”

“Of course she did . . . She’s an Anderson . . .”

As much as my friends resented how I got into college, the truth was that it was because of my family name. It was normal for my family name to open  opportunities for me and allow me special privileges.


It started as what seemed to be a regular day. The daily decision of whether or not to attend school. I woke up to Jenna, my twin sister, complaining about how I was going to make her late to school . . . again. Just one more year of this and I’ll be free, I thought. Free from high school and especially my parents’ watchful eye. I was ready for something big. Something different. Something like . . .

“Hey V, check it out! The clothing company, Pacific Coast Knitting Mills , is hosting a pageant.”


“Here, look for yourself”

I took the flyer from Jenna’s. It did look intriguing. The title was “The Miss Universe Organization,”

Location: Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach California

Requirements: Must be at least 18, not married, and not pregnant

Check. Check. Check.


I had competed before in state and country pageants but never anything like this before. I tried to convince Jenna to compete with me but she claimed “it wasn’t her thing.” I had won the Miss USA pageant in the past which qualified me to enter to represent the USA in a universe pageant.  After a long conversation with my mother, my father, and then my mother . . . Again, the chance to be able to enter this pageant became surreal. This should be a piece of cake…especially for me.

I had some time before the competition and decided it would be wise for me to begin to prepare. After doing more research on this organization I found out there was a lot more to it than just beauty. “A contestant must be confident. She must be able to demonstrate authenticity and articulate her ambitions as a titleholder. The competitions showcase and evaluate the contestants’ aspirations and are judged by accomplished business leaders, philanthropists, and public figures. A contestant should understand the values of The Miss Universe Organization and the responsibilities of the title. She should be able to express what her personal and professional goals would be during her reign” (Miss).

I sat in silence as I thought about what I had just discovered. A feeling of panic began to stir in my stomach. All I knew was wanting something and then in return receiving it. I felt way out of my league, and everything was out of my control. For once my opinion wasn’t the only one that mattered.

After noting all that was required, I decided that change needed to happen in my life. I began searching for ways to help out my community. I started by helping mothers whose husbands were drafted in the North Korean War and were effected by it. Being able to help others changed my outlook on life. Little by little I noticed the way I acted started to change. Everything so much more positive.

“Vanessa a bunch of us are going to a Elvis Presley concert! Coming?”

“So sorry girls, I’m going to have to pass, I’m going to the soup kitchen today to help out.”

“Seriously? He’s going to be singing your favorite song, Always on My Mind!”


Instead of spending time going to concerts I was giving my time to others. My mom said it was like having a whole new person. This may not have been the change I had originally been searching for but the way I felt about helping others began to grow a special place in my heart. Without me knowing I was beginning the process of fitting the title of what being Miss Universe meant.


“Plane ticket, please.”

“Here you go.”

“Thank you, please go find your seat.”

In approximately 5 hours I would be landing in California. I had researched everything I could to be fully prepared. Prepared to win the first Miss Universe title.


Finally I  arrived with family to the final destination. All around me were girls just like me carrying multiple suitcases filled with makeup, dresses, shoes etc . . . In the auditorium the buzz of excitement filled the room. This was it. The start of the competition was only a few hours away. Everyone began to quite down when the judges began to talk: “The Miss Universe Organization places priority on the importance of getting involved and giving back by providing a dedicated international platform of charitable partnerships. As leaders and role models within their communities, our contestants and titleholders work to affect positive change through volunteering, fundraising and advocacy. During their reign, our winners are given the tools to personally and professionally enrich others by dedicating themselves to raising awareness and much needed funds for philanthropic endeavors” (Miss).

5:00 pm

Evening Gowns.

My first competition was underway. The chaos and panic of getting ready escalated quickly. I found myself in a chair having my hair yanked, twisted, and hair- sprayed. Dresses were being passed from one side to another. I found a quiet place to finish getting ready to calm my nerves. I began to hear our names being called out:

Vanessa Marie Anderson. Age nineteen from New York City. Representing USA.

I held my breath and walked out. All I could hear were the announcers reading off the different charity organizations I contributed to. After what felt like forever I made it back around to where I entered. I let out a sigh of relief. Round one. Complete.

After several rounds into the competition I was still in the running.

“Contestants please make your way to the back to prepare for the Final Round of the competition. Thank you.”

How the final process worked was the finalists, which consisted of me and five other girls, would stand in a line next to the host. Then, individually we would be asked a question about: What you have done in your community to show leadership? What social group would be your focus? Or How would you use your title to impact society? and would then have to respond with an appropriate answer in a certain amount of time. In the mean time the rest of us would have head- phones on as to not hear each other’s responses. One wrong answer and it could cost us the competition.

“First contestant, please step forward”.

I could feel my heart pounding with every second that went by. What kind of question would it be? What if I don’t know how to answer it? What if I freeze?

“Contestant number 6, step forward.”

That was me. I was up.

“Miss USA, What social group would be your focus and why?”

I took a minute to gather my thoughts.

“If I am crowned with the title of Miss Universe I would put my focus toward families that are or were affected by war. Families take a great toll when a member of the family has fought or is fighting in a war.  They struggle with money, emotional stability, and severe scaring memories. I would make an organization that would help stabilize a family emotionally and financially after a war. I will help with funding and offer any emotional recovery. Thank you.”

I stepped back in line and breathed a sigh of relief. I did it. I answered with poise, confidence, and assertiveness. The hostess filed us all out off the stage to wait. It was evaluation time. Who would be eliminated and would would be crowned.

Finally the time had come. My palms started to sweat and stomach started to turn. I had goosebumps everywhere as I slowly began to tremble.

“Announcing the winner of our first year of The Miss Universe Pageant is …

Vanessa Marie Anderson from USA. Winner of The Miss Universe pageant of 1952”

My heart skipped a beat. They said my name!! Wait. Walk! I stepped forwarded and offered my best smile. I was handed over a dozen red roses while they laid the Miss Universe sash over top of me.  Actress Piper Laurie did the honors of crowning me with the titled crown. It was my moment. I would never forget that feeling of working for something to achieve it. It would forever stay in my heart.

I stayed true to my commitment of organizing a charity group to help families effected in the war. I still hold the Social Welfare organization near dear to my heart and forever will.

Works Cited

Broeske Pat H. “American Bandstand.”St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale, 2013.                Student Resources in Context, Web.  28 Mar. 2017.

“Miss Universe- Topic Overview”.  missuniverse.com. https://www.missuniverse.com

“Miss USA gets out the vote.”Broadcasting & Cable, 28 Mar. 2005, p. 72. Student Resources in               Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A131085673/SUIC?u=tel_s_tsla&xid=737026b3.                 Accessed 28 Mar. 2017


Ziolkowski, Theodore. “Crete in history and myth.”World Literature Today, vol. 80, no. 6, 2006, Web. 6 Apr. 2017.