Thursday, April 11, 2013

University of New Orleans Freshman Prepares for Miss Louisiana USA Pageant

Jadian DanielsUNO Freshman Jadian Daniels prepares for the Miss Louisiana USA pageant in October.

University of New Orleans freshman Jadian Meliea Daniels fell in love with the Miss USA pageant when she was 10. Since then she has participated in seven pageants of increasing stature and this year sets her sights even higher.

Daniels, 18, will represent LaPlace, La. in October at the Miss Louisiana USA Pageant. If she wins the state title, she will participate in the Miss USA Pageant in June 2014.

"I was looking at her. She was just so beautiful and graceful and now that I'm older, I see that Miss Louisiana goes around the state, volunteering," said Daniels of the Miss Louisiana USA she saw watching the Miss USA Pageant on television as a fifth-grader. "She does a lot of volunteering and charity work."

Daniels, who joined the University of New Orleans as a freshman in January, completed her high school education at East St. John High School in 3½ years. A campus resident, she has just changed her major from English to interdisciplinary studies with hopes of pursuing journalism and a potential career in broadcast journalism. She hopes to become a member of the UNO Student Activities Council next fall and may try out next week to be a UNO Cheerleader.

The first step to becoming Miss USA is winning a state title, said Daniels, who plans to work two jobs this summer to pay for her pageant coach and a personal trainer. Already she is hitting the gym three times a week, she says.

As one of 10 children with another sibling on the way, she knows that her education and dedication to career pursuits are critical, says Daniels, who chose to study at UNO because of the University's proximity to home and "great academic programs."

She has carefully planned her path so far, she says, finishing high school early and making annual choices between pageants and cheerleading as extracurricular activities.

All hasn't been rosy for Daniels, who says she was bullied in middle and high school.

Her aim, if selected as Miss Louisiana USA, Daniel says, is to pursue an anti-bullying campaign in an effort to advance state policy and effect transformative change in Louisiana schools by educating students, parents and faculty on the issues. Knowledgeable already, she is able to enumerate talking points, which include signs of peak depression and adolescent suicides.

"I would have the attention of the people of Louisiana," Daniels says. "Everybody listens when you're somebody. People want to listen to you."

Strong people, such as her mother, grandmother, broadcast journalism idol Oprah Winfrey and the subject of her favorite book, Anne Frank, inspire Daniels, who said her second-choice dream job is that of firefighter.

For now, however, she's sticking to Plan A, studying hard, having fun at UNO and pursuing her Miss USA dreams.