A Jackson Advocate Interview with Miss Southlake 2015, Desarea Murray

Desarea-MurrayJACKSON ADVOCATE: Congratulations on winning the Miss Southlake pageant. What do you hope to accomplish during your reign?

DESAREA MURRAY: Thank you. I am so excited to have this platform to share my concerns on childhood obesity. Obesity has doubled in children and more than quadrupled in adolescence in the last 30 years. Today, one third of children and adolescence in America are obese or overweight.

There are three areas of concerns to discuss with childhood obesity: Eating habits, physical activity, and parental influence. Healthy eating habits is a major part of a healthy lifestyle. Too many children consume fast food, sugary beverages, and snacks/sweets on a daily basis. Children need to have a balanced diet in order to have optimal performance and health. Portion control, healthier snack ideas, and eating “bad” in moderation are great starting points to addressing this issue.

Physical activity is critical in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for children. Social media, television, and video games are major contributing factors to the lack of motivation children have to exercise. Children spend on average up to seven hours per day engaging in social media, watching TV, and playing video games. If a child goes to school for 8 hrs a day then there are only 9 hrs in the day remaining, which is used for sleep. It is important for children to have fun; however, it is imperative for children to have more physical activity incorporated into their lifestyle. Children need to engage in physical activity (outside of school) at least 3x/week.

Parental influence is essential to the success of a healthy lifestyle for children. Parents decide the groceries that is brought into the home. Making healthier grocery choices can seem more expensive but Choosemyplate.gov (United States Department of Agriculture) provides affordable snack ideas, how to buy quality groceries at a good price, and quick recipe ideas for parents to cook meals at home. Parents also have to be more active with their children to motivate them. Children follow the lead of their parents, therefore parents should be the first to set the example of a healthy lifestyle.

Diagnoses of being overweight or obese can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and increase the risk of some cancers even during childhood. In 30 more years another third of children in America could be obese unless changes start being made right now!

I am a clinical nursing supervisor in pediatric home health and have worked directly with obese/overweight children that have diagnoses of diabetes. I also work directly with dietitians to discuss the diet plans for my patients.

JA: Who are the key people that inspired you to run for Miss Southlake?

DESAREA: I come from a very supportive family, especially my parents. My family has always encouraged me in every endeavor I have decided to take part in. I have always wondered what it would be like to participate in a pageant, but while I was in nursing school, I did not have the time or money to inquire on qualifications. I talked to my parents and boyfriend about competing and they inspired me to check it out. Ironically, almost a year after graduating college and practicing as an RN, I met Miss Texas 2013, Ivana Hall, while shopping at Costco with my boyfriend. I asked her for an autograph and she told me I should try out. I had two months to prepare and did not think I would be able to compete with a full time job; needless to say, here I am.

JA: Why did you choose this particular pageant?

DESAREA: As I was doing research about different local pageants, I noticed Southlake had great support staff, their title holders were very involved in the community, and they placed very well in the Miss Texas Pageants. I met the pageant Director at a Starbucks and by the end of the conversation I knew I had to try.

JA: How many African American contestants have been selected for this distinguished honor ?

DESAREA: I am the 11th Miss Southlake and the first African American Miss Southlake. I am literally making history right now.

JA: What are your next steps, i.e., running for Miss Texas?

DESAREA: I am currently preparing for the 2015 Miss Texas pageant, which will be held June 28th – July 4th. I am thrilled to be competing with only 50 other contestants across the state of Texas. After Miss Texas is crowned, the next step is Miss America.

JA: In what ways has your life changed since winning the pageant?

DESAREA: My life has changed in so many ways. It is amazing to be a leader in my community and inspire so many people just from participating in the pageant. I now have a higher sense of responsibility and accountability. I am really looking forward to sharing my platform of childhood obesity with the world and inspiring other young women to take advantage of this amazing and rewarding scholarship opportunity.

JA: What did you have to change in your lifestyle to prepare, i.e., diet, exercise, become well-versed in politics to answer challenging questions, etc.?

DESAREA: I love to eat; so I had to change my eating habits and exercise consistently. I also have to make sure I get enough rest so I can have enough energy to complete all my tasks during the day. I am very sluggish when I do not get enough rest. I watch the news more and read articles to stay up to date on current events. This is a major change for me since my TV time primarily consists of cartoons. I feel like I am on top of my game and I am in the best shape I have ever been.

JA: When you were a little girl, did you ever dream of being in a pageant?
DESAREA: When I was a little girl I remember going to parades and seeing Miss America on a float waving to everyone and smiling. People would be so excited to see her, including myself. Sometimes I would dress up and pretend to wave at the crowd with the biggest smile on my face.

JA: Describe the feeling that came over you when they announced you were the winner.

DESAREA: When I was announced the winner I felt so overjoyed. I was thinking to myself “I did it”. I felt so accomplished and proud of myself. The feeling was so surreal.

JA: What did it feel like putting on the crown?

DESAREA: Putting on the crown felt like a dream come true. As a little girl I wanted to be a princess or a queen of something and putting on that crown made me feel like royalty. The moment was one of the best moments of my life.

JA: What advice would you give to other African American females who may have this dream?

DESAREA: The advice I would give to other African American females is that you only live once, so live your dreams. Any goal or aspiration can be accomplished with hard work and dedication.

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