By Amelia Rosen
I recently had the opportunity to sit down at Liz’s Place with Barnard junior (and this year’s Miss U.S. Virgin Islands) Camila Daniels to talk about the pageantry world, Barnard, and life as a strong young woman in general. Camila is very involved on campus- she is SGA’s Vice President of Finance, the leader of the Constellation Pyxis, and a talented flautist. On top of all that, she is competing for the title of Miss America on January 14th at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. We’ll all have our fingers crossed, but considering her obvious natural ability (the Miss U.S. Virgin Islands competition was her first ever pageant!), she probably won’t need it. In the meantime, this is coffee with Camila:
|Camila, being crowned|
The Nine Ways of Knowing (9WK): What was your first thought when the crown was placed on your head?
Camila Daniels (CD): I didn’t believe it!
9WK: When did you move from the Virgin Islands?
CD: [I moved to New York] two weeks before I came to college.
9WK: Was coming to New York City a culture shock?
CD: Yes, because I grew up in a small town where the people are warm and friendly. It was quite hard to break out of the habit of talking to people on the street, because [in New York City] people will think you’re crazy. It was also hard to get used to the cold weather.
9WK: Why did you choose to attend Barnard College?
CD: I wanted to go somewhere really different [from the Virgin Islands]. This is about as different as you can get.
9WK: Do you have any favorite events that are held on campus?
CD: Spirit Day, because so much is put into making us girls feel proud of Barnard. I want to collect an “I ♥ BC” shirt for each year. I’ve done it so far!
9WK: Is there any one activity that you think every student should participate in at least once while at Barnard?
CD: Do something that will put you outside your comfort zone. For me, that was the Vagina Monologues my freshman year. On a whim, I went to an audition and got the part. I recited the lines of “The Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery in the Congo.”
9WK: When did you compete in your first pageant?
CD: The Miss US Virgin Islands pageant was my first, so this summer.
9WK: Is there anything you’ve learned while studying at Barnard that has helped you in the pageantry world?
CD: Even if I may not have necessarily had the resources that the other pageant girls had, I have the same amount of ability and potential as everyone else. In short, confidence.
9WK: Do you think participating in pageants has altered your perspective on life as a college student?
CD: I’ve learned that you can definitely be a serious academic and interested in pageants as well.
9WK: Which section of the competition are you most looking forward to doing?
CD: Talent. I will be doing [a flute performance to] the song “Aviary” from the fleet of songs “Carnival of the Animals” [by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns].
9WK: What is your platform/community service project for the competition, and what inspired you to choose this cause?
CD: “Keeping Music Alive in Public Education.” I’m doing a speaking campaign in public schools and with school teachers in the Virgin Islands to help create a more structured musical program and better funding for musical repairs in school. [I chose this platform because] I believe disciplines learned in music, like creativity, will help in other disciplines. For example, playing the flute has taught me patience and diligence.
9WK: Although I’m certain you are more concerned with other aspects of the competition, are you excited to travel to Las Vegas to participate?
CD: I am so excited! I have never been there before.
9WK: Is there anything in particular you wish to do while there?
CD: Maybe go to Madam Tussaud’s and take pictures of the wax statues.
9WK: If you are awarded the role of Miss America, what do you hope to accomplish in the following year while holding the title?
CD: I want to take [my platform] “Keeping Music Alive in Public Education,” and broaden it to a more national scale.
9WK: If you could give your first-year Barnard self one piece of advice, what would it be?
CD: Don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and surrounding yourself with many different types of people.
9WK: Similarly, if you could share one message with all the young women that look up to you as a role model, what would that message be?
CD: Make sure you’re doing something you love every day, because life is too short to be spent unhappy.
Amelia is a first year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing. Her pageant talent would be food-related.
Photo courtesy of Virgin Islands Daily News