It is not every day that a parent gets to see her child's dream come true, but last Saturday night at the Seaside Convention Center Fabienne Fitzwater saw her daughter crowned Miss Oregon's Outstanding Teen 2022.
"It was such an emotional experience. As a parent, you know how hard your child has worked to achieve this victory and to actually be there to watch her dream come true, was such a surreal moment," she said.
"I am extremely proud of her and so happy for her. She will have a wonderful year of service and representing Oregon."
Deja Fitzwater, 17, is a Clackamas County resident who will be senior at Tigard High School in the fall.
When she was announced as the winner, she described her first reaction as absolute shock and elation.
"There are no other words to describe my feelings in the moment, with many months of hard work finally having a result," she said.
During her year of service, she said she wants "to branch out into communities across the state and get people excited about the next generation."
Now that she has won the title of Oregon's Outstanding Teen, an entire group of advisors will take over her training before she goes to the national competition in Dallas, Texas, on Aug. 10-12.
She will receive coaching in interview, walking, talent and make-up.
Social Impact Initiative
Fitzwater will also receive advice about making her Social Impact Initiative pitch to judges at the national pageant. She said her area of interest is "Watch. Speak. Listen. Encouraging healthy communication between teens."
Fitzwater said she created the initiative because she "did not like the disconnect that the pandemic created among my own peers, as well as teens in general."
As part of this month's pageant, a special college scholarship opportunity was available to all the teen candidates, based on their social impact initiative and hours of community service.
Fitzwater said she submitted a letter of recommendation and her community service project hours; she also gave a 45-second social impact pitch and answered follow-up questions from a panel of judges.
Just before she was named Oregon's Outstanding Teen, Fitzwater was named the first-place winner of that $500 scholarship; in all, Fitzwater earned $5,650 in scholarship money.
As for her next step, she said she cannot wait to meet all of the girls in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen pageant and be able to emphasize her social impact initiative on a national level.
"This system is truly about sisterhood and the helping of others. This week I connected with 13 other girls who are all strong, intelligent and compassionate girls who all care about many different things in their communities," she said.
Fitzwater added, "Being able to share this with all other Oregonians, is so important to me and I cannot wait."
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