Our series, "The Road to Miss Michigan," continues with the next contestant, Andrea Pugh, Miss Bridge Fest. Continue reading to learn more about Andrea and her journey to the crown!
Please share with our readers your title & platform.
Miss Bridge Fest Know Your Rhythm: Youth Cardiovascular Disease Awareness
How long have you competed in pageants? How do you think you’ve personally grown with all your prior pageant experience?
I began competing in pageant at the age of seven in the Junior/Little Miss Saginaw County Program. The Miss America Organization has single-handedly influenced me to make life long relationships, earn scholarships for college, represent and be a servant to my community. Most importantly, I have been given a voice as a titleholder to promote my platform.
In regards to your platform, why did you choose to go with this particular one?
In 2009, I was rushed to the emergency room after fainting in the shower. Following the running of multiple test and being given two IVs, I was released and told that I would need to return later for additional testing.
While awaiting the results of my comprehensive cardiovascular test, I received the devastating news that my cousin, a top national basketball prospect, Dorian Dawkins, collapsed after shooting a free throw at the Michigan State University Breslin Center. Without warning or previous signs of heart problems, this outstanding student athlete with a promising future suddenly lost his life to a undetected heart disease. There was no Automated External Defibrillator in the gymnasium and no one performed CPR. Weeks later, my test results came back I found out that my symptoms were related to the very same heart condition that Dorian lost his life to at a free throw line. Sadly, most heart conditions go unnoticed until something as drastic as death occurs. Through the help of the American Heart Association, the Pulse3 Foundation, and The Dorian Styles Dawkins Foundation, combined with the voice of my title, I plan to continue to protect and save young lives of those potentially affected by unknown heart conditions.
How has working alongside your platform made you into a stronger person?
Prior to “Know Your Rhythm” being my platform, I was very uncomfortable with sharing my story. Many of times even the thought of losing my cousin would instantly bring me to tears. Volunteering with local organizations such as The Puls3 Foundation has allowed me to not only share my story but provide encouragement for youth and families in the same or similar situations. I am a stronger person now from using my platform to promote awareness and prevention of cardiovascular disease in youth.
What have you learned from your current Miss Michigan, which you hope to carry with you if you were to win the title of Miss Michigan?
From her platform, to the Miss Michigan stage, to her Miss America Wardrobe, I have learned to be myself unapologetically.
As a title-holder, what is one of the single-most important messages, which you think you convey to your followers?
The crown that I wear represents service, success, scholarship and style. The crown I wear is not an accessory, but it is a sign of commitment to the goals of the Miss America Organization.
If you were to win the title of Miss Michigan, what is the one thing which you would strive the hardest to accomplish?
Cardiovascular disease in youth represents 82% of sudden deaths in young athletes. Our world needs this issue addressed today. I plan to travel the state educating high school students, coaches, administration and parents on how to properly prepare for an emergency situation such as cardiac arrest. Only 30% of victims receive CPR from a bystander. Therefore, it is important to increase awareness of cardiovascular diseases in youth to increase public interest in receiving Automated External Defibrillator and CPR training.
Because of media, many people tend to look at pageant with a very scrutinizing option; For you. personally, what have been some of the biggest benefits of being a part of the Miss America Organization. And how would you share the positive nature of pageants with others who may not be familiar?
Being a part of the Miss America Organization has allowed me to give back to my community that has given to, as well as, shaped me. Growing up in an environment that possessed individuals and leaders whom are working to bring continuous progress, I have been inspired to strive to also be a leader that
brings positive change. MAO is a catalyst for shaping women to become leaders in today’s world. Through the organization I have learned to be tenacious. Though I may not have won every pageant, I have developed exemplary interview skills, served my community, promoted my platform and served as a role model.
Where can fans follow you on social media?
My Facebook page.
What advice do you have for those who want to take part in pageants?
I encourage those who want to participate to enter with an open mind. It is important to not compete to win a crown, but build yourself as a young woman, raise awareness about your platform and meet amazing like minded women.
What words of thanks do you have for those who have helped to bring you to where you are today in the Miss Michigan Class of 2017?
Thank you so much for all you have done. To my mother, family and friends, thank you for also being there emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. To Tishy, my board and sponsors, thank you so much for bringing me this far with diligent preparation. To my late grandmother, thank you for the tough love, your words are what has brought me thus far. This one is for you! “Know Your Rhythm.”