In August 2014, Seattle will serve as the host city for the inaugural Miss Plus USA pageant. Among the field of contestants is my friend, Sasha Ballard, who will be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I learned that she would be participating in the contest I thought she would be an ideal candidate for the ever-popular “Real-Life Curvy CEO” feature. So, let’s learn more about my girl, Sasha!
Tell my readers a little about yourself. Although I was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised mostly in Washington D.C. and Maryland, today I reside in Virginia. I earned a Master’s Degree in Federal Program Management from Trinity Washington University and a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University. I’m a proud member of the illustrious Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and work as a Contract Specialist under the elite Fellows Management Program with the Federal Government. Recently I have started to work as a professional full-figured model. I maintain a deep passion for mentoring and changing lives. As such, I am currently working to establish an organization that will strive to help today’s youth build confidence, self-sufficiency, cultural awareness, and leadership skills.
What inspired you to enter the Miss Plus USA pageant? At first I was not going to enter the competition. I had never done anything like it before and really was not sure what to expect and if I could successfully accomplish what was required. I had heard about it through a friend of mine, but wrote off all interest in participating and gotten off of social media for months. I had occasionally thought about looking in to it again because it was on my heart. The very first day I logged back onto Facebook, it was the first thing I saw. I prayed about it and took it as a sign to proceed.
What are the official issue(s) you hope to represent during your reign as Miss Virginia Plus USA? My platform is Post-Partum Depression Awareness (PPD). I am teaming up with Postpartum Support International; one of the largest women’s organizations dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. After I had my daughter in 2012, I had severe PPD. I felt there was a need for more events, programs, and initiatives for women dealing with PPD. There was especially a need for minority women to start talking about it.
I am working on finalizing a PPD initiative dedicated to urban mothers and children. My vision is to start dispelling one of the many taboos about mental health in our communities. I want to provide more resources in engaging women with their children and how to overcome a variety of circumstances that may be present before, during, and after pregnancy. I would like to create more opportunities for urban women to receive help without judgment and provide a key element of alternative educational methods and pregnancy prevention for young women.[caption id="attachment_7870" align="aligncenter" width="442"] image credit: missplususa.com[/caption]
What has been the most surprising thing about preparing for the national competition so far? The most challenging? The most rewarding? The most surprising thing about preparing for a national competition is all the work involved. I have a new respect for people who do this. The most challenging is the balance act and making up in your mind what you really want out of it. Not taking anything personal was another big one. One of the most rewarding has been seeing how many people support you openly and even secretly. Due to my diligence and hard work, I was able to get a variety of sponsors in different things, so being able to meet different people and network and talk about your platform and who you are as a person is by far the most rewarding because you never know who you will meet and leave an impression on.
Win or lose, what do you hope to take home from your experience at the national competition? I hope to take home a valuable network of women who can pour and add greatness in to my life and allow me do the same for them. This is a huge investment monetarily, but even bigger emotionally. What I stand to gain is far greater than what I have spent.
How can my readers support you in your endeavor to take home the national title? Oh wow, there are so many things your readers can do to support me!
Email me encouragement and stories they would like to share at firstname.lastname@example.org - especially if they can relate to PPD or have anything they would like to share. It is great to have support in anything you do in life. They can also send me a Facebook friend request at “Sasha Nicole”. As I am coming to a close on tying the loose ends for the programs and initiatives I am doing to impact the DC, MD, VA area, they can follow the impact God has anointed me to make in the area.
[pullquote]The Miss Plus USA contest features another familiar face - former Real-Life Curvy CEO interviewee, poetess Shelly Says So aka Michel Washington who will be representing Maryland! Good luck to all of the 2014 contestants - we know that the DC metropolitan area will be WELL represented![/pullquote]Anything else you'd like to share? To keep going! There will be many people who may try to discourage your ideas and dreams, but keep going. The biggest thing that has kept me going is my understanding of the destiny laid out for me. I believe in achieving greatness. I continually try to do everything I can to stay motivated and focused on what God has placed in my heart. The more you can eliminate distractions not worthy of your time, the more destinies you will discover and achieve.
Please stay tuned and follow me down this path to help our communities and young women. I am going to do my best to not let you guys down!