Douglas girl named outstanding teen
Despite a disability that changed her life and threatened her passions, Douglas High School freshman Emily Meier hasn’t let sclerosis interfere with her dreams. In fact, it makes her work harder.
With a platform based around her disability the 15-year-old Gardnerville resident was crowned Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen at the Miss Carson City, Douglas County and Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant on Feb. 11 at the Carson City Community Center.
This is her first title since entering the pageant two years ago and she plans to continue to compete.
“I think it would be a good opportunity for me to branch out,” she said. “I’m not very social so it’s given me those opportunities to improve my social skills and meet new people.”
Meier is a dancer at All About Dance studio in Minden. After being diagnosed with sclerosis in 2016, the fear of never dancing again came over her, but encouragement from friends and family kept her motivated.
“In the beginning, I had a constant thought that if I did something wrong or tweaked my back a certain way, I would never dance again or pursue my dreams,” she said. “The support and encouragement I got from friends and family kept me going and to pursue my dreams despite my disability.”
Her perseverance has helped her manage her disability, continue dancing and has even driven her dance team to receive outstanding scores at national competitions.
Meier hopes to encourage others to the same through her role as outstanding teen.
“I want to encourage others to not give up, despite any disability or challenge that comes their way.”
Meier plans to use social media as an outreach tool to spread sclerosis awareness and to speak at school and local events.
She encourages others to not give up and to do what makes them happy.
“Just go for it,” she said. “I’d encourage to get as much support as possible, but even if you don’t have the support if it is something you want to do then just go for it and don’t let anyone stop you.”
Marking her sixth year participating in local pageants since her title as former Miss Douglas County, Bailey Gumm’s Outstanding Teen in 2013, Macie Tuell was crowned Miss Lake Tahoe 2018.
“Hopefully this is my last local title before gaining state,” she said.
The 20 year-old Gardnerville resident has held such titles as Spark’s Outstanding Teen in 2014, Miss Douglas County in 2015 and Miss Reno in 2016.
She recently gave up her title as Miss Carson City to accept this year’s Miss Lake Tahoe.
Tuell said being a part of the pageant over the years has helped her in many areas of her life.
“It’s changed me,” she said. “It’s improved my public speaking skills and in many other areas and the scholarship opportunities have been wonderful. It’s helped pay for school.”
She recommends all young women to get involved.
“I highly recommend it to anyone, it’s opened up so many doors,” she said. “You should do it, regardless whether you’re scared.”
Tuell’s platform is “Memories Matter: Alzheimers and Dementia awareness.”
“It kind of just fell into my lap,” said Tuell. “I worked for a nursing home while a freshman in college where I worked with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and just fell in love with it.”
With a motto of “quality over quantity,” Tuell focuses on making her patients’ lives as memorable as possible one day at a time.
“I focus primarily on making their lives as memorable as possible because Alzheimer’s takes so many years away from them and the small things make all the difference,” she said.
Tuell is an ambassador for the Alzheimer Association of the Northern Nevada and California Chapter, a music coordinator for the Perry Foundation and an ambassador for Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s Organizations which reaches out to high school and collegiate students about the disease.
Her goal is to educate as many people as possible on Alzheimer’s and dementia and bring about enough awareness to either prevent it in the future or in making the transition easier for all involved.
“I don’t look at them at having a disease, I look at them as a person,” she said. “In a lot of cases, that doesn’t happen.”
Tuell is currently a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, studying behavior analysis and psychology with an emphasis in gerontology. Her career ambition is to become a geriatric psychiatrist which deals with the study, prevention and treatment of mental disorders in humans with age.
“I want to help families prepare for dementia and help the process of going through dementia a lot easier,” she said.
As Miss Lake Tahoe she will be working side by side with the Alzheimer’s Association and reaching out to students in high school and college to spread Alzheimer’s awareness.
Since becoming involved in pageants in 2013, Haley Passione has held titles in Southern County and Spanish Springs before being crowned Miss Carson City 2018.
“I never wanted to do community service before,I always thought it was a waste of time,” said Passione. “Now that I have been competing and getting involved, it’s become a big part of my life and I’ve come to enjoy it.”
Passione said she learned of the benefits of competing in pageants while in high school, specifically the scholarship opportunities and decided to give it a try winning Southern County, Las Vegas’ Outstanding Teen in 2013 and being the second runner-up at the state competition that year.
“It’s been a real growing experience since 2013,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know my community and improve my public speaking. It’s been an all around great experience and I’ve also made a lot of friends in the organization, too.”
The 21-year old is originally from Las Vegas and is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is pursing a degree in political science.
She plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh this fall for an education master’s degree in higher education management and student services.
Her career ambition is to work in student affairs and oversee student conduct and overall student services.
During her year as Miss Carson City, Passione plans to work with the Court Appointed Special Advocates to spread awareness of the organization.
“Right now there are about 1,000 kids in foster care and about only 100 volunteers throughout the state,” said Passione. “My main goal is to raise awareness of the services of CASA. Even if someone can’t volunteer anyone can spread awareness and make donations to provide and improve more services for kids in foster care.”
Passione currently works with Washoe County CASA where she is responsible for some administrative work, planning events such as speaking engagements and volunteer outreaches in the community and through social media.
Passione became passionate about CASA after joining a sorority at UNR. She said the sorority had its own platform working with CASA.
“We did some volunteer work with them and I just kind of fell in love with it from there,” she said. “Then I needed an internship, so I reached out to the chair of the foundation, and I’ve been there ever since.”
She plans to partner with the Carson City CASA organization and continue spreading awareness of the organization.
Karrina Ferris of Carson City was crowned Miss Lake Tahoe Outstanding teen. Miss Douglas County has not been crowned.