Cersley nurses a desire to serve
public as Miss Virginia
a hobby, its a beauty.
Cersley, 23, a thoracic cardiovascular nurse in the Medical Center,
is vying to be Miss Virginia, having already been crowned Miss
Albemarle and Miss Albemarle County Fair.
began competing seriously in pageants three years ago, having
spent her teen years competing in gymnastics, volleyball, softball,
basketball and track (though she does recall having been entered
in some pageants as a tyke). After attending Pensacola (Fla.)
Christian College, Cersley entered the Miss Albemarle 1999 competition
for fun at the urging of her cousin, Krissy Yowell,
who won the contest in 1998.
contestants voted Cersley Miss Congeniality
I went out of my way to meet the other contestants,
she said but she didnt win the crown.
experience only whetted her appetite. She entered again in 2000,
this time determined to win. And she did.
then sought to broaden her horizons and get a different perspective.
At subsequent competitions, she met young women she otherwise
would not have met, some of whom have remained her friends.
gives me more character and wider views of different things,
Cersley said of pageants. I got a taste of it, and it was
thrives on community service, including organizing and hosting
the Lions Little Miss Pageant, which this year raised $750
toward a diabetic childs expenses. She participated in a
cancer awareness walk in Lynchburg and did other work with the
most rewarding to give back to the community, Cersley said.
Miss Albemarle, Cersley attended events, such as a local fishing
tournament, wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt and a small rhinestone-studded
crown. The kids all want to know if its real,
she said. I tell the older children its as real as
you want it to be.
platform the causes she champions in interviews
in the Miss Virginia preliminaries includes her concern
for the elderly. Cersley credits her grandmothers, one age 88
and the other 89, and her experience in her work as a nurse for
making her more aware of seniors issues.
have lived through so much, the Depression and wars, said
Cersley, who described her grandmothers stories as fascinating.
learned to appreciate the elderly more, help realize their needs,
she said. Its a good experience.
and the elderly can help each other, she said. Grandparents share
history through their stories, lending perspective to current
events, while being around children can often invigorate older
February, Cersley passed her Miss Albemarle crown to Kamesha Smith,
another U.Va. employee, then beat a field of five contestants
for the Miss Albemarle County Fair title in July. After her crowning,
she promoted the fair, making appearances and giving media interviews.
Cersley gave the fairs opening address, cut a yellow-and-blue
ribbon, then spent the next few days walking the grounds, meeting
people and handing out ribbons to award winners.
is currently attending a round of preliminary competitions for
the Miss Virginia pageant, one of which she must win by March
to become eligible for the statewide pageant. While there is a
preliminary event almost every week, the clock is ticking: this
year is her only chance, since she will be too old next year.
If she becomes Miss Virginia, Cersley will automatically qualify
for the Miss America pageant.
is also preparing for the Miss Virginia State Fair competition
in January to determine who presides over the 2002 fair next October.
lot of people say this is just a dream, she said. But
if I cant dream, then what fun is life? If I dont
win, at least I know I will have tried.
sees her participation in pageants as a way of giving to the community.
Its not the prestige or the glory behind it,
she said. I think, What an honor it is to go through
the state and help people.
dismisses the suggestion that pageants are sexist and demeaning.
I didnt understand before I was involved, she
said. Its not all about beauty on the outside. It
is about serving your community. Its about inner beauty,
beauty of character, not having a beautiful shell.
judges want to see someone who is genuine, because fake
personalities cannot be sustained, she said.
or lose, she has gained from the experience. Participation in
pageants has made her better organized, more poised and has honed
her people skills, she said all of which helps her on the
have to be organized to be a nurse, she said. It helps
in communicating with people, and communication is a priority
said she plans to stay involved in the pageant world after her
competition days are over, perhaps directing a Little Miss
pageant, which she said helps youth and gives them self-esteem.
And, she said, she will always work with the elderly.