At the end of June, the title of Miss California 2015 went to Garden Grove’s Bree Morse. But that’s not the only award that came from the Miss California scholarship competition. Titleholders from the City of Santa Clara did not return home empty-handed.
Melissa Bowling, Miss Silicon Valley 2015 and a representative of the Miss Santa Clara Auxiliary, won the non-finalist talent award and a $500 scholarship. In a black strapless gown with lace overtones, Bowling performed the ballad ‘You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me’ from the movie Burlesque.
“I felt like a rock star and I felt amazing,” recalls Bowling, whose platform is Supporting Caregivers in the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s communities.
Bowling has fond memories of her week in Fresno, where the Miss California competition was held.
“We were all staying at the Doubletree Hotel,” she says. “Every night we got back to our hotel room around midnight. We had the competition and afterwards we had visitation, where we got to see our parents, family, friends, and visitors after the show.”
Bowling also remembers visiting Fresno City Hall with her fellow contestants and meeting members of the Mayor’s office. All the ladies brought gifts representing their area. A San Jose Sharks coffee mug was Bowling’s offering.
On Fourth of July, Bowling was back in Silicon Valley performing the National Anthem in Cupertino, and again at the Santa Clara’s city picnic at noon and before the fireworks display in the evening.
Although Bowling says she has “aged out” and won’t be competing in any more Miss America-affiliated competitions, she has big plans for the future. She graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay last spring and is considering attending graduate school. During the rest of summer, Bowling will go on a vacation and work. She is also busy planning her wedding.
At the Miss California competition, Jessa Carmack, Miss Santa Clara 2015 and a representative of the Miss Santa Clara Auxiliary, won a preliminary swimsuit award and placed in the top 10.
“For placing in the top 10 I won $1,750 and I’ll be using that for my last semester at San Jose State in the fall,” Carmack says. “There is no scholarship money for the swimsuit award. But it was so meaningful for me to get this award because it showed that my healthy lifestyle paid off and the judges had seen that.”
“Before the competition actually started, we got to go to a few different outings,” Carmack continues. “One outing was at the Lester family barbeque. There was a professional hula-hooper who taught us how to work out with a hula hoop. I found out that I’m pretty good on a hula hoop.”
Over the weekend, Carmack also made an appearance at the city’s Fourth of July festivities. For the rest of summer, she will continue working full-time for Google Shopping Express, fulfill her Miss Santa Clara duties and promote her platform: Building a Healthy Future for Youth.
Carmack is still deciding on whether she’ll participate in more competitions.
“I love the Miss America organization; it helped me become who I am today,” she says. “It depends on where I am in the next six months when the local competitions start rolling around. We’ll see then.”
Molly Crawford, Miss Northern California Regional 2015, won a dance award and was also in the top 10.
“I won the Donna Jones Dance Award, inspired by one of our volunteers, Donna Jones; the dancer with the highest score and someone who shows their heart and soul for their talent won,” says Crawford, representing the Miss Gavilan Hills and Miss Northern California Regional Committee. “I won $500 for the dance award. I also won $1,750 for being in the top 10.”
The money will go toward Crawford’s studies at DeAnza College in the fall and her tuition when she transfers to a four-year university in 2016.
“For my dance, I did a contemporary jazz piece to the acapella version of ‘How Will I Know’ by Whitney Houston,” Crawford says. “In past times, I’ve been pretty stressed out before I performed and I found myself praying a lot. [At the Miss California competition], when I hit my initial beginning pose, I felt at peace and centered with every move I made.”
Crawford’s platform is called Beyond Beauty for Girls. As the current California program ambassador, Crawford feels this cause could help others with things she struggled with as an adolescent.
“This program crushes the stereotype that the media places on beauty and what it means to be beautiful,” Crawford says. “I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia until I ended up in a hospital at age 14 with an IV in my arm.”
Crawford looks forward to attending a Giants game with “forever friends” she made at the Miss California competition. On the Fourth of July, she and Jennifer Smith, Miss Northern California Regional’s Outstanding Teen 2015, made an appearance at the Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary Club Firecracker Run.
“Right now my main focus is to get back to my job as a dance teacher at Studio 10 Dance and prepare for transferring to a new school in the spring,” Crawford says.