Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron entered her first beauty pageant as a way to speak out about HIV and AIDS. Her uncle, who lived with her family, died from AIDS when she was 8 years old. As he struggled with the disease, some of the community avoided the Cameron family because “in Southern Baptist Virginia, people didn’t talk about sex,” Cameron said.
By age 16, Cameron was speaking about HIV and AIDS in churches and schools. Those venues didn’t always welcome her—until she was crowned Miss Fredericksburg Fair in 2005.
“That’s when I knew there was something more to this whole pageant thing,” Cameron said. “Schools were more willing to let me come in.”
Being crowned Miss America allowed Cameron to spend a year traveling and speaking about sex education at events as varied as NASCAR and World AIDS Day. She plans to finish her degree in broadcast journalism and continue her work with sex education.
One health clinic in Port-Au-Prince is using art, education, and community to help its patients heal. What can international aid agencies learn from their model?