Happy Sunday everyone!
I hope everyone had a great long holiday weekend and is feeling refreshed and supported going into the last month of the year.
For this week’s #ServiceSunday, I’m honored to share the story of a Wofford College student named Catherine. Catherine reached out to me over the summer as Miss Midlands USA 2017, as a competitor in Miss South Carolina USA 2017. She learned about The Smile Project and in addition to raising money for the organization, she became a strong advocate for everything that this movement stands for.
After the pageant, I was able to chat with Catherine about the things she learned and how she views service.
Catherine Ivey is a student at Wofford College where she is pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Studio Art.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is!”
Catherine: “Because my faith is the most important thing to me, it is the source of my happiness. However, my friends, my family, and cheer teammates at school contribute to a lot of my every day happiness.”
Liz: Why did you choose The Smile Project?
Catherine: I wanted to support an organization that strives to make differences in not just communities, but in individuals’ lives, while promoting mental health. I looked around at many different organizations, but was drawn to The Smile Project because it does exactly that, while also supporting other non-profits.
Liz: Why does Happiness/kindness mean so much to you?
Catherine: I think in today’s society a lot of our lives revolve around social media. While social media helps catalyze conversation and educates us on important topics, it can also be destructive. Social media can enforce or even encourage negative perspectives, impacting our thoughts, conversations, and ultimately how we view others and ourselves. Furthmore, people are quick to tear others down. This has been an increasing trend I have noticed, and therefore, I am passionate on addressing. I think if we want to be a better people, we need to re-learn how to empathize, understand, and be caring about those around us.
Liz: How’d you get involved with the pageant?
Catherine: I’ve always wanted to be in a pageant; however, the timing was never right. This past year I finally felt like I was ready. I’m glad I waited, too, because I feel like my experiences throughout college were big a contribution to me being able to be so confident on a stage at the state-level.
Liz: On the topic of confidence, what’s your advice to someone who might struggle with body issues or confidence issues regarding their appearance or otherwise?
Catherine: My advice to someone struggling with body or confidence issues: I would reassure them that they are beautiful and perfectly made. I would tell them to look in the mirror every day and say one positive thing they like about their personality, one positive thing they like about their body and one positive change they would like to make in their attitude for that day. I would tell them they are enough. I would tell them the advice I love so much: “Don’t give people the power to tear you down.”
Liz: What do you hope to inspire others to do and what kind of role model do you want to be?
Catherine: In the community I hope to inspire others to be their selves— their absolute best selves.
Liz: Going back to the topic of the actual pageant…what does it mean to you?
Catherine: I think the title that comes from a pageant is a representation of service and way to give yourself to the community. In this title, you have the opportunity to be a spokesperson, a leader, a listener, a giver, meet so many new people, have the opportunity to travel—the list goes on! All of these things encompass a dream job of mine!
Liz: How has service impacted your life?
Catherine: Service is incredibly important to me. I think the act of serving embodies being kind to other people. That being said, service isn’t just a physical act, it can be verbal too. Personally, the more I service others, the more I learn about myself and the more I know I’m impacting someone else’s life.
Liz: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Catherine: The best advice I’ve ever received: “Treat others how you want to be treated” and (as mentioned above) “Don’t give people the power to tear you down.”
Catherine is an exceptional young woman bound for truly amazing things. Pictured below is her at Miss South Carolina USA, representing the Midlands. It was her first pageant and though she didn’t take home the crown, she took home new friendships, memories, and a spot in the top ten!
Make sure to follow her on Instagram: @Catherineivey
When I asked if there was anything else she’d like to add, Catherine wrote, “Liz, I’m so thankful for all of the amazing things you do! Thank you for creating The Smile Project. Keep on smiling; keep on making others smile!”
And that has made me smile.
I’ll see you next Sunday as I highlight another phenomenal example of humankind.
Looking to nominate an individual or organization that you know? Reach out to The Smile Project on social media or by filling out the contact form here.