Miss Teen USA hopes to inspire others

August 19, 1994|By Mike Lacy | Mike Lacy,Knight-Ridder News Service

If the sash weren't on, the scene would be typical: a teen-ager sitting with mom and dad in a room waiting to sign papers for a car. But then, Shauna Gambill, the new Miss Teen USA, sounds like a pretty typical teen-ager.

On Tuesday, Miss Gambill was crowned Miss Teen USA 1994 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss. The pageant was carried live on CBS.

"The phone rang all night long," she says. "I got only a couple hours' sleep. That's OK. I'll just sleep on the plane."

Tired or not, the reign must start. No better way than to sign for a new car.

Among her $160,000 in prizes for winning the crown was a new Pontiac Grand Am GT Coupe.

Her first stop was to co-sponsor Ed Saylor in D'Iberville to sign papers and take pictures. She then headed to William Mitchell Motors in Pascagoula and back to Bert Allen in Gulfport.

The Pontiac will replace her 1986 Acura Integra with 126,000 miles.

"It's a little sleepy," she says with a laugh.

The reality of the crown hasn't hit yet.

"But I think the title will really start to sink in when I finally get to see the videotape of the production that all the viewers got to see," says the Acton, Calif., resident. "Then it will turn into reality."

Wednesday was the calm after the storm for Miss Gambill. Some would argue it is the calm before the storm.

The reality of her reign will be a busy schedule of appearances, interviews and autograph signings even after the 17-year-old begins the winter term at UCLA in January.

Some of those appearances will most likely be among young people who need her inspiration and words of encouragement.

"I guess the only way you can talk with somebody is if you share experiences," she says. "I really believe if I share the things that have happened to me and how everything has just turned out so positive due to having parents who really care and having a good set of morals and values, it can help.

"Among today's teen-age generation and even the younger generation, it's sad to see some don't have a really good set of morals and values. When you have that set, you're going to want to achieve your goals. . . . God helps those who helps themselves. If you go out and do something positive, something positive is going to happen to you."

Her advice?

"Some people say, 'I come from a poor family and we live in a shack, so I just can't get anywhere in life.' Turn that around and make it positive and say, 'I can do this.' Don't use that as an excuse.

"Make a change in the world, because we are looked down on. We are looked at as people who don't do anything, kids who are causing trouble. . . . But really, there are good kids out there. I hope that not only I, but others can inspire people to do better."

For Mom, Laurette, and Dad, John, the biggest pressure during the pageant was in waiting for top 12 to be selected.

But, adds Mom: "I think the hardest thing was worrying about her getting hurt emotionally and just seeing her work so hard.

"But I'm just so incredibly proud of her."

Her words trail off, and then she cries.

"Oh, mom," says Miss Gambill. "You'll make me cry and my makeup will run."

Then, they both cry.

If there was a makeup smear, it wasn't noticeable.

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