EL PASO, Texas — Last summer, she traded in her sneakers for high heels in hopes of becoming Miss El Paso. A win meant gaining media exposure to launch her volleyball career and experience in front of the cameras for her journalism aspirations. It turned out to be the ace of her game.
If being smart, talented, civic minded and articulate is what is needed to win beauty pageants, then UTEP Miner Kelsey Moore, who captured Miss Texas 2010 with no prior pageant experience, could just win Miss USA 2010 in Las Vegas this April.
Although she entered the El Paso pageant with only one month to prepare, she astonished the pageant community by her intense focus and uncompromising determination to learn fast. She captured the Miss El Paso title in June and went on to win Miss Texas in September as well.
While her competitive spirit is what drives her, self-awareness also plays a role. “This experience has taught me that I can do more things than I give myself credit for. I learned that I can really do anything I want if I just put my mind to it,” reflected Moore. “Everyone had her little pageant moms and I really did this by myself,” said Moore. Her mother lives in Chandler, AZ. It was not until she competed in the Miss Texas pageant that she got help from director Laura Rayborn.
Of course, being a blue-eyed-blonde, towering at 6’2”, and a 19-year-old-student athlete with a killer smile helps. After all it is still a beauty pageant. Moore’s striking beauty is only accentuated by her height, which she says her parents taught her to value as an asset. “My parents decided to put me in sports at an early age so that I could learn to use my height and get coordinated,” she said. It is something she learned well. “I hate it when I see tall girls slouched over,” she added, “be proud of your height.”
Moore believes it was more than her good looks though, that captured the judge’s attention. She believes the judges saw a smile that was natural and raw. She added, “I think the judges could tell I was really having fun out there.” Unspoiled by the clamor of beauty queen pageantry and extravagance, Moore’s appeal at the Miss El Paso and Miss Texas competitions, was her invigorating fresh presence.
“My goal was to win the swimsuit competition,” admitted Moore. When she captured that title she knew she had a shot at the crown.
While Moore also credits her competitive spirit, discipline, and volleyball workouts to her win, the Division I volleyball player on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Texas at El Paso has more passion in her than for just sports and tiaras. “If I wasn’t training for volleyball, I’d be out attending Tea Parties,” she said, revealing that politics is her abiding passion. She believes it is crucial that all people young and old be involved in the political discourse of the country.
Aside from her studies, she also pays attention to the current health care debate. “When health care makes-up one-sixth of our entire economy, it is important that we take time to perfect it and not just throw it together,” she said. “I do believe in reform, making it affordable, and covering pre-existing conditions, but not in a government run health care system,” she continued, “it’s just not a good idea.”
She is highly critical of the Obama administration and what Moore characterizes as his failed policies. The health care proposal is what she is most critical of. “Come on, it is his baby, and he is not able to convince the country on the thing he is most passionate about,” she said. Moore hopes to one day become a political anchor like Martha MacCallum on Fox News, while revealing that her true devotion is to her favorite political commentator Glenn Beck.
Moore is optimistic that this spotlight will allow her message to future generations to “stay true to your personal values” to be heard. To Moore this means preserving the faith that her Christian upbringing has taught her to value and that now shapes her opinions and beliefs. At times this can prove quite controversial in a country that is divided between left and right, conservative and liberal. Nevertheless expressing your opinions, in such a public role is something Moore is confident in doing regardless of whether she wears a crown or not.
“In America we do have free speech and we shouldn’t get beaten and battered for expressing our views,“ she said referring to the assailed Carrie Prejean, who initiated a storm of controversy when she conveyed her opinions on traditional vs. gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant in 2009. Moore does not believe that Prejean lost the crown due to the expression of her personal beliefs since she was not a contender in the swimsuit or evening gown competitions. She does however allege that such a politically divisive question was unfair.
Nonetheless, Moore is not in the least bit intimidated. She is assured that she represents a majority of the country that shares her social and fiscal conservative views. “Most of the country is conservative,” she said. But even if she felt she was in the minority, she would not be afraid to challenge the dominant and popular thinking. “I believe in standing up for what you believe in, regardless of whether it is popular or not,” she said. “The important thing is to be respectful and be knowledgeable, do your research, have a basis for what you believe,” added Moore.
It is obvious that her strong family ties and Christian upbringing shapes her confidence, determination and self-reliance. Above all, what she values most deeply is her faith. She feels it helps her to be a better person. She has also been influenced greatly by her parents. While she believes she inherited her dad’s competitive spirit and love of sports she also looks up to her mom. “She has got a quiet strength that I admire, because she realizes what is important to speak on and when it is better to not speak,“ said Moore, while admitting that she personally tends to talk too much.
Whatever Kelsey Moore is doing El Paso wants her to do more of it. “The support here has been amazing,” said Moore. “People really want El Paso to get back on the map,” Moore said. El Paso had not won Miss Texas in 15 years and she is recognized wherever she goes, but she said she still can’t get used to people asking for her autograph.