N.C. A&T alumna Elesia Summers-Thomas won the Miss Essence 2013 crown in July in Crystal City, Va., a Washington, D.C. suburb.
The national pageant provides personal and professional opportunities for all women to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. It is not affiliated with Essence magazine.
“When my name was called, I was excited because I worked really hard,” Summers-Thomas said about her win in a release from A&T.
Summers-Thomas first was crowned Miss Essence of her home state (Maryland) before winning the national contest. She earned a BA in mass communications and a master’s degree in agriculture education from A&T. She also worked at her alma mater for a short time. Summers-Thomas is a marketing specialist for the United States Post Office and a Washington Redskins cheerleader. She is also pursuing a P.h.D. and hopes to one day work in the agriculture marketing industry.
Over the past few years, she has competed in almost a dozen pageants; before she entered the contest, she vowed that Miss Essence would be her last pageant.
A queen’s story is never what it seems. Behind the poise of three-point turns is an intense drive to be a better person. For Summers-Thomas, her connection to child abuse prevention, breast cancer and bullying keeps her focused.
“My mother is a breast cancer survivor,” she said. “My focus is awareness and early detection.”
She explains that her concentration on bullying began when the family member of a close friend took their life because they were being bullied in school.
“I’ve gone back to North Carolina to speak with schools about bullying and how their words can affect others,” she said. “I really don’t think our youth understand the power of their words and how they affect other people.”
She is also active and will continue to be involved with the Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia (SCANVA) and Prevent Child Abuse America organizations, both of which advocate for and promote awareness of child abuse prevention. Her platform is the Child Abuse Prevention Effort (CAPE) program. It encourages advocacy for child abuse awareness and is dedicated to eliminating bullying in schools and encouraging high self-esteem among young girls.