Jessa Carmack, 22, has a number of titles under her sash: Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen 2010, Miss Mission City’s Outstanding Teen 2011, Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2011, Miss Santa Clara 2015, Miss North Bay 2016 and now, Miss California 2016. Looking radiant in a sunshine yellow evening gown, Carmack was crowned at the Miss California competition on July 2 at Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre.
“I am feeling amazing; it’s a great feeling knowing all my hard work has paid off,” says Carmack, sounding cheerful and upbeat. “The Miss America program has helped me grow in many different ways. And it’s the ultimate best feeling to represent the state of California.”
At the Miss California competition there were five different phases of competition: the interview, swimwear, on-stage question, talent and evening wear. For the talent segment, Carmack performed a gymnastics dance to “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars.
“Throughout my preparation for Miss California, I practiced my talent and interview. I made sure I was in the best physical and mental health I could be in,” Carmack says. “I really focused on why I wanted to be Miss California. When I was 15 years old, I entered in the Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen program. Since then I’ve been able to accomplish so much because of the life skills – confidence, interview skills and stage presence – I’ve learned in this program. I wanted to be Miss California because I want to share my story and give back to the program.”
Carmack looks forward to promoting her platform, Building a Healthy Future, across the state.
“I want to continue what I’ve been doing at the local level, which is visiting daycares, schools, libraries and other youth programs and teaching children the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and what it can do for their future,” she says.
Carmack won a total of $22,300 in scholarship money from her participation in the Miss California pageant. A $20,000 scholarship came from securing the plum title. She won additional scholarships for the preliminary swimsuit award ($300), the overall interview award ($1,000) and a community service award ($1,000).
“That money will be used to pay off my student loans, and I plan to go to graduate school,” says Carmack, who recently graduated from San Jose State University. “I want to study public relations or social media strategy. I’ve looked into different online programs, one from University of Florida and one from University of Southern California.”
A Santa Clara native, Carmack attended schools in the Santa Clara Unified School District: Briarwood Elementary School, Cabrillo Middle School and Wilcox High School. She hopes to return to these schools someday and speak there. Carmack began practicing gymnastics through Santa Clara Parks and Recreation at the age of eight. At age 10, she continued her gymnastics training at Airborne Gymnastics, where she later worked as a teacher. In recent years, Carmack made regular appearances at Levi Stadium for four seasons as a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush.
Right now, Carmack is living in Southern California leading up to the Miss America competition. On September 11, television viewers can watch Carmack compete for Miss America live on ABC. Carmack’s Instagram and Twitter handle is @MissAmericaCA.
Photo credit: Doug Hikawa