Through hard work, a positive attitude and a little good fortune, Christina Stratton might need change-of-address cards in a few weeks.
The reigning Miss Missouri Teen USA is preparing to compete in the Miss Teen USA pageant Aug. 22 at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. Along with the crown and sash, the winner also moves into an apartment in New York City with the Miss Universe and Miss USA title holders. But before contemplating the Big Apple, Christina first is focused on continuing her Miss Missouri Teen outreach efforts and preparing to do her best at the pageant.
Being all you can be is the theme of Christina’s blog, Accelerate: Choose to Be Unstoppable, which has more than 5,000 followers.
“In it I encourage kids to set their goals high and work hard to achieve them,” Christina said. “It is about encouraging everyone no matter what age to be the best version of themselves they can be.”
The blog is a key feature of her website, christinastratton.net, which helps promote the Sacred Heart sophomore’s community service initiatives and coverage of her activities as Miss Missouri Teen USA.
“I have traveled all across Missouri and spoken at more than 20 schools,” she said. “Two of the most cherished memories of my time as Miss Missouri Teen USA are giving back to Sedalia.”
Christina recently was named Volunteer of the Year at the Center for Human Services. She participated in a Valentine’s Day social and an ice cream party for CHS clients, as well as working with the literacy program and the vocational center. As an elite company member at Sedalia’s Studio A Dance Conservatory, she also led the “Dancers vs. Cancer” fundraiser that brought in $5,000 for an area family with a child who is battling cancer. As part of that event, participating dancers each made and donated a tutu; pediatric cancer is one of the official causes of the Miss Teen USA program, so Christina took the tutus to a Louisiana hospital, gave them to young cancer patients and danced with them, as well.
Christina credits her dance experience and work with Studio A’s Anna Crumley Nelson with proving poise on stage during the pageant’s evening wear/modeling segment. She also has been working out at Brian’s Gym to excel in the fitness/swimsuit category, and each day she studies current events to prepare for the interview portion. But her performance will be judged before she arrives in the Bahamas, as participation in and promotion of community service and outreach is a key component in determining the Top 15 Miss Teen USA finalists.
“I tease and say that I wish I could be in two places at once because I have been able to support a lot of great organizations and able to attend some fun events,” Christina said. “There is a lot more that I wish I could have attended.”
The Miss Teen USA pageant will be live-streamed on the missuniverse.com site, but Christina’s Sedalia supporters will be able to see her live and wish her well at a Bon Voyage event 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Fox Theater.
As Miss Teen USA, “if by God’s blessing I were to win,” Christina would immediately jet off to New York and begin her duties promoting charitable organizations, modeling, making other public appearances and speaking at schools. If that crown eludes her grasp, she will return to Sedalia and spend another month serving as Miss Missouri Teen USA, a responsibility she has “totally enjoyed.”
“After I won (the Miss Missouri Teen USA title), I realized that being a state title holder is really a full-time job,” she said. “I was often doing my homework in the car, and having to sacrifice all of my dancing and my social time to make the most out of every single day and the greatest impact across the state that I could.”
She will gladly make that sacrifice on a grander scale if given the opportunity.
“I hope I make Missouri proud and hopefully bring home the crown,” she said.
Bob Satnan is the communications director for Sedalia School District 200.