Alyssa Williams, 18, says she’s a leader, not a follower.
As Miss Washington Teen USA she wants to set an example for other girls. That means no sex until marriage, no drinking alcohol until 21 and no illegal drugs, ever.
“I’m breaking the stereotype and saying, ‘It’s cool to wait. It’s cool not to do these things,’ ” Williams said last week.
On Tuesday, she leaves for the national Miss Teen USA competition set for Saturday in Phoenix.
Part of her platform is her values.
The recent Sumner High School grad is a devout Christian.
Today’s teens, she said, are under enormous societal pressures to conform.
“You’re a teenager,” she said, repeating the messages teen hear. “It’s OK to drink, it’s OK to have sex.”
She’s saying no and saying it loud.
“I’m standing up and making that public so girls can see not everyone is not waiting until they’re married.”
Williams said others at her church, Calvary, in Sumner and her school stand with her.
“But there’s definitely girls at school who have made different decisions,” she said. “But they respect my values. They look up to me, which is awesome. I’ve receive nothing but support in school and on my Miss Teen Washington journey.”
Boys, however, stay silent on the subject.
“No matter what, (boys) are seeing that and they’re taking a step back and going, ‘Wow, maybe I should (abstain) too.’ It’s putting that in their minds.”
Williams is involved with the student ministry at her church, where she spends every Sunday, morning to night.
“God is a big reason I’m doing this,” she said. “I think this is a wonderful platform to show my faith.”
She has a tattoo of a cross on her index finger.
“That’s the only tattoo I have, the only one I want. It’s a reminder that God is first in my life.”
Also important to Williams are special needs kids, who, she said, comprise a good portion of her friends.
She helped organize a special needs prom and has raised money for autism.
That’s why she dislikes use of the word, “retarded,” which is often used as a pejorative.
“The connotation people put along with that word is almost bullying,” she said.
“The way they use it is demeaning,” Williams said. “Special needs kids are some of the most intelligent people I’ve met. They just don’t know how to express it.”
Organizers label the competition in Phoenix simply as “Miss Teen USA” and include the tagline “Confidently Beautiful.”
There’s no mention of beauty pageant.
“It used to be more of a beauty pageant, but now it’s a competition where girls compete for scholarships,” Williams said. There is no swimsuit competition.
Williams will be competing against 50 other teens (the District of Columbia is included) for a $10,000 scholarship and other prizes.
Win or lose, Williams plans on starting at Pierce College in the fall before transferring to a four-year school in two years.
She’s interested in nutrition, broadcast and acting.
“I love to speak, I love to talk so I can’t not do something with that,” she said.
Williams was headed to a California acting school but her reign as Miss Washington Teen USA put an end to that. She was crowned in November, competing as Miss Bonney Lake.
Williams said she’s been preparing for the national stage since she was a little girl.
“I really want to make Washington proud,” she said.