An ASU graduate student who was recently crowned Miss Tempe aims to use her title to help people who struggle with self-injury, as she once did.
Nonprofit graduate student Andrea Malinski was crowned in the Miss Tempe pageant on Jan. 26 after years of preparation and participating in pageants.
“I think all little girls who watch (Miss America pageants) think, ‘That’s going to be me,’ but also kind of know they are never going to do that,” Malinski said. “When I started competing when I was 12, it became a real goal for me.”
Malinski will compete in the Miss Arizona pageant in June. From there, the winner will go on to compete in the Miss America pageant.
Each contestant develops a platform to volunteer for and support, Malinski said. Usually each platform is something that the contestant feels strongly about.
In Malinski’s case, that platform is self-injury awareness and prevention. It’s a personal topic for her because she struggled with self-injury in high school.
“My parents didn’t know, and they didn’t know until years later, until I finally decided that I was ready to embrace that as my platform,” Malinski said. “I knew that I needed my parents’ help and support to do that.”
Malinski has worked with notMYkid, a nonprofit organization that guides adolescents to make positive choices, by sharing her story with middle and high school students.
“When I first started speaking and sharing my story, it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done,” Malinski said. “I am always just so excited after knowing that I have helped people get help and start that path to recovery.”
Freddie Bennett, scheduling manager for notMYkid, said since Malinski began working with the non-profit in July 2011, she has done many things for the organization.
In addition to working as a presenter, Malinski has volunteered eight hours a week by helping with social media.
“(Malinski) is one of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate presenters at notMYkid and she is truly respected by all that work with her,” Bennett said. “Her spirit and drive at notMYkid has not only impacted the lives in the students she has reached but has inspired us all.”
Tiffany Hilburn, Miss Scottsdale and close friend of Malinski’s, said her dedication to notMYkid and her platform is one thing that has made her successful.
“We all have a story, a vision, but not everyone has the guts to stand up and make a difference and change the world,” Hilburn said. “Andrea is a courageous woman for openly speaking about her own story to prevent future stories for others from happening.”
Malinski, who has been competing in pageants since she was 12 and has held titles like Miss Arizona Pre-Teen, Miss Arizona Junior Teen, Miss Gilbert and Miss Maricopa, said she has always worked toward her goal of competing in the Miss America pageant.
“I always knew that my ultimate goal was to compete with the Miss America Organization, just because I love it,” Malinski said.
Aside from Malinski’s Miss Arizona goals, she said she hopes to work for a nonprofit organization and be able to interact with children.
Before coming to ASU, Malinski received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles.
“I love children but decided that the school environment wasn’t for me,” Malinski said. “I would love to help kids in another way.”
The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest scholarship foundation and provides many young women with opportunities that would not be available to them.
“When people hear ‘Miss America,’ they don’t really think scholarships,” Malinski said. “It’s got such a huge focus on community service and scholarships.”
Typical pageants consist of five sections: personal interview, on-stage question, evening gown, swimsuit and talent, which for Malinski, is a piano performance.
Malinski said she gets nervous sometimes, but she enjoys competing and has seen that it has made her a more confident person.
“I had been really shy, very self conscious,” Malinski said. “(Pageants) really helped me break out of my shell and gain a lot of self confidence, develop interviewing skills, public-speaking skills.”
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