Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Citrus College Student Ambassador Takes Beauty Pageant Crown

Still working at the Advancement (Public Relations) office at Citrus College.
I figured since I still get to write a feature or two, I will start posting my profiles and articles here.
Here's my latest on Sarah Gleason, Miss Covina 2012: (photo courtesy of Miss Covina Pageant)

Citrus Student Ambassador Takes Beauty Pageant Crown

By Ariel Carmona Jr.

It’s hard to think Sarah Gleason could be transfixed, frozen in place, unable to move. Yet, that’s what happened to the 23-year-old Citrus College hospitality management major while on stage at the Covina United Methodist Church when she heard her name announced as Miss Covina 2012.“I was more emotional than any other girl would be,” said Gleason recalling the moment. “For the first 10 seconds, as they were saying my name, I couldn’t move to the center of the stage to be crowned because I was crying so hard. But, that moment will forever be replaying in my mind, because of all the hard work I put in. It was what I was waiting for.”

The youngest of five children, all of whom attended Citrus College, this was Gleason’s 5th year running for the title, and each year she competed she found a different motivation for doing so. “I wanted to show other girls competing for local titles, and other people in general, that if you have your mind set on a goal, and if you have the passion and dedication to put in the hard work, it can come true.”

A constant state of motion and activity are the qualities most would associate with the young student. In addition to completing her final general education courses at Citrus College, Gleason is a member of the Student Ambassadors, a select group of students who lead college tours and help out with other activities.

Even though Gleason admits she first joined the program for personal reasons, such as getting over her fear of public speaking and maintaining a high GPA, as her year-long commitment to the program started, her reasons shifted.

“My passion to promote community colleges and the love I have for Citrus College grew tremendously,” explains Gleason, “I discovered programs such as the Writing CafĂ©, Tutoring Center, and the true benefits that the Learning Resource Center has to offer students.”

Ivon McCraven, coordinator of school relations, said Gleason has demonstrated an incredible initiative and a strong dedication to the college and the community. “Sarah is organized and motivated to serve others. She is always on time and always greets people with a smile.”

Gleason said that as she finishes her final semester at Citrus College, her goal is to continue to share not only the benefits of community colleges and higher education, but what the college has to offer to make other students’ educational journeys more successful.

For a lot of students, balancing the demands of being a full-time student, working at In-n-Out Burger, and taking on the added responsibilities of Miss Covina could prove too taxing, but Gleason said she still manages to squeeze in some fun whenever she can.

“I am a very active girl. In my free time I like to be outside, whether it is snowboarding, hiking, or rock climbing. I try to embrace nature as much as I can,” she said.

An accomplished performer, Gleason chose Performing Arts initially as a program of study, but she said as time went on, she began to feel incomplete.

“I have always loved food and would make custom cakes for friends and create new recipes for my family. I realized my true calling was with food, and I could still make others happy, by giving them great customer service instead of performing for them.”

The Miss Covina Scholarship Pageant is an organization independent of the City of Covina, but a preliminary to the Miss California Pageant in the Miss America system. As such, Gleason will represent her city in the Miss California Pageant this June, as well as at local functions throughout the year.

Gleason has already begun her nine-week training period for Miss California, while concurrently attending events such as opening day ceremonies for local youth baseball and softball leagues and the recently held “State of the City” luncheon.

According to Mrs. Joanne Montgomery, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, Gleason’s assertion that participation in the Student Ambassador program is a life changing experience is 100 percent correct. “The program helps the participants develop an appreciation for community colleges and education in general,” said Montgomery, “Sarah is right when she says the ambassador program will change a student’s journey through higher education.”

I have no doubt that Sarah will be able to juggle it all,” said Dr. Geraldine Perri, superintendent/president of Citrus College. “She has shown tremendous dedication to her academics and to the Student Ambassador program. The Citrus College community is proud of Sarah’s accomplishments.”

Gleason will finish Citrus College with two associate degrees and multiple certificates and will be transferring to University of Nevada Las Vegas next spring, in hopes of achieving her ultimate goal of owning a gourmet food truck. “Being employed by In-n-Out Burger, becoming a student ambassador, and now Miss Covina, many people told me that I couldn’t do any of that,” she commented. “Not only did I prove them all wrong; I became successful and stronger while doing it all.”

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