Miss Delaware USA
Freshman crowned in second pageant experience
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 05:07
Ashlee Greenwell was not a child beauty pageant queen. In fact, the Miss Delaware USA pageant was only her second ever.
Ashlee has come a long way since her childhood as a shy girl who lacked confidence.
As an infant, Ashlee had constant ear infections that damaged her eardrums.
Having suffered substantial hearing loss, Ashlee had a hard time even saying her own name. She did not pass her first hearing test until age 8.
On Thanksgiving weekend 2005, Ashlee proved to herself and others she could move beyond her past physical and emotional challenges.
At 18, Ashlee was crowned Miss Delaware 2006, making her the youngest winner in more than a decade.
Ashlee's mother, Kathy Greenwell, said Ashlee's struggle with self-esteem was her motivation to enter the pageants.
"Last year when she entered Miss Teen Delaware, I noticed she began to believe in herself," Kathy said. "She realized she could do a lot more than she thought she could."
In addition to gaining self-confidence, Ashlee won a trip to Jamaica, a spa getaway to San Francisco, a personal trainer, hairstylist, makeup artist and a scholarship to the university.
Ashlee was motivated by the scholarship and is now a freshman studying biological sciences in hopes of becoming a dentist.
"Everyone always asks me why I want to be a dentist, and stick my hands down strangers' mouths," she said. "I want to help others with their smiles."
Ashlee said she she chipped one of her front teeth when she was young.
"Dentists fixed my mouth and my smile and, ever since, I have wanted to be a dentist and help others as they helped me," she said. "I think that a smile says more than words."
Pageant director Fred Wright said Ashlee has been a wonderful representative of the program.
"Ashlee is very kind and warm to those she meets," he said.
As part of her community service duties as Miss Delaware USA, Ashlee is involved with many different organizations.
During the weekend Ashlee attended a "Southern Lights of Life" event at Dover Downs in support of breast cancer survivors.
Ashlee said her involvement with breast cancer awareness means a lot to her because her mother and grandmother are both breast cancer survivors.
Other community services Ashlee participates in include supporting military families, the Boys and Girls Club and volunteering at the Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children.
Ashlee said she remembers a time when she met a little girl at the hospital that had a kidney transplant at the age of 2 and now, at age 12, was going through a kidney rejection.
"It really made me feel that you need to have a great deal of faith and believe in things," Ashlee said. "You can never take things for granted - I think about her often."
Kathy said while Ashlee spent time reading to young children at the YMCA Friday morning, she turned to her and said, "Mom, this is the stuff that is so fun."
Ashlee said another favorite part of being Miss Delaware is the unexpected thrill of not knowing what she will do next.
"I could get a phone call tonight telling me I have to go to L.A. in a couple of days," she said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Ashlee said she has not missed too much school yet, but will miss three weeks for the Miss USA pageant that airs April 21.
"Missing one class of chemistry is bad enough, I can't imagine three weeks," she said.
Being Miss Delaware has taught Ashlee time management skills. She said she gets through it by remembering she only has this experience once and to live it to the fullest.
"It's hard trying to be all these places at once," she said.
Since her crowning, everyday of Ashlee's life is a new experience, Kathy said.
"Just yesterday she got to ride in a Black Hawk helicopter," Kathy said. "How many people can say they've done that?"
Despite the frantic pace, Kathy said the experience has strengthened their relationship.
"It gives me a chance to bond with my daughter," she said. "We've gotten closer and found we need each other more."
Ashlee lives at home, and is close with her family. She said her father, a colonel in the U.S. Army, is extremely proud of her.
"He shows my picture at the end of his presentations," she said. "He will even want to stand up when we go out places and want to tell them they are in the presence of Miss Delaware."
Ashlee said her competitors defied the stereotypes and were extremely friendly and sincere. However, Ashlee said seeing her competition was a little scary at first.
"It's intimidating seeing all the gorgeous girls you will be competing against," she said. "But I knew I just had to be myself and that was the only thing I could give."