By Crystal Harrell

The images associated with standard pageant fare include smiling beauties in swimsuits and a sparkling tiara to crown the best in show with a criteria of subjective standards. The Miss California Scholar Competition aims to break away from the old-fashioned ideologies of pageants, and focus more on service and scholarship.

The Miss California Scholar Competition is an Independent non- profit organization dedicated to serving young women and communities throughout California. The program provides personal and professional opportunities for young women to promote their voices in culture and the community.

Different California counties and cities fall under the umbrella of the newly established Miss California Scholar Competition, including the Coachella Valley. Participants will have the chance to hold the titles of Miss Coachella Valley, Miss Palm Springs, Miss Cathedral City, Miss Palm Desert, Miss Indio, Miss Rancho Mirage, Miss Desert Cities, and Miss La Quinta.

It is required that titleholder candidates must reside, work, or attend school in a Coachella Valley Community and their designated community. Winners will be awarded scholarships and the chance to give back to their city community.

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There is no longer any correlation between the Miss USA pageant and the California city-based competitions. Miss Coachella Valley has gone through a transitional change during the past year, even postponing the actual date of the competition from July 28 to a few months into the future.

“We have kind of put it on a back burner this past year to regroup. We have decided to launch a new state program, Miss California Scholar, which includes the Miss Coachella Valley programs. Our goal is to have titleholders in all communities selected by fall,” explained Miguel Sarasa, Executive Director of the Miss Coachella Valley Competition, who was also a director for the Miss America pageant for four years.

The program is open to young ladies ages 4-26. Sarasa anticipates about 50 candidates will participate in the contest. There are no children’s competitions, but girls ages 4-8 will have a chance to take part in the Little Sister program, which enables them to experience community service at the side of the Miss Coachella Valley titleholder.

The Miss California Scholar Competition is currently offering the local desert city titles in a traditional competition and in an online competition for the inaugural Class of 2020. Some notable differences between this competition and the Miss USA pageant is the absence of a swimsuit or talent category.

“We don’t really like to use the word ‘pageant’ because it does sound a little outdated. Although the contestants aren’t competing for the title of Miss America, Miss USA, or Miss California, they will have the chance to win scholarship assistance and community outreach guidance,” shared Sarasa.

The traditional pageant competitors will participate in different phases of competition that culminate to their final ranking, including a personal interview with the selection committee, a spirit of fun fashion event, evening wear, an onstage question, academic achievement, and overall pre-pageant participation.

The phases for the online competition are different, primarily done through technology-based means. A FaceTime personal interview with the selection committee is conducted, as well as a resume and essay submission, academic achievement, social media participation, and a headshot.

“These girls are focused on a specific non-profit organization or cause that they want to support. Competitions like these let girls have the opportunity to give back to their community. The personal growth skills that they get from communal interaction helps them become a positive role model. I think there’s so much chaos going on in the world today, so what’s the harm in a girl having the opportunity to make a difference?” said Sarasa.

Those interested in applying to the Miss California Scholar Competition can find the application at the official website of misscaliforniascholar.org, More information about the Miss Coachella Valley competition can be found at their official Facebook page.