We'll be following Caressa Cameron to Las Vegas and posting notes, stories, more photos and videos. Stay with us for continuing coverage!
Caressa Cameron at a glance
Height: 5-foot-4 Eye color: light brown Shoe size: 7 Schools attended: Salem Elementary, Battlefield and Ni River middle schools and Massaponax High School; she attended Germanna Community College for two years and is a senior at VCU, where she’s on a break while serving as Miss Virginia College major: communications with a focus in broadcasting Favorite colors: red and brown Favorite outfit for hanging out: “Leggings, Uggs, big oversized sweaters you just drown in and, for a little bit of swag, a scarf.” Favorite TV shows: “Bridezilla” and “Desperate Housewives” Favorite movies: “Sex and the City, ” “The Wizard of Oz” and the original “Ten Commandments” Favorite junk food: “anything salty” Favorite dish: fried hamburger over white rice smothered in onion pan gravy Favorite musical artists: Christina Aguilera and Sade Favorite song: “Is it a Crime?” by Sade Last movie seen: “Precious”
You might not know that:
Caressa can sing, but she can’t whistle
She also can’t read music and sings by ear
She’s right-handed but is left-dominant when posing, meaning she puts her left leg forward
She prefers hot tea over sodas or coffee
She likes salt on slices of watermelon and green apples
CARESSA CAMERON WASN'T LOOKING TO BE A BEAUTY QUEEN when she entered the Junior Miss Fredericksburg Pageant at the age of 14.
What she wanted was a soapbox. After losing her Uncle Robert to AIDS when she was 8, Cameron had spent time volunteering with organizations dedicated to educating the public about the disease.
If she won a crown, she reasoned, she’d be invited to schools and churches, where she could spread that message to fellow teens.
“I thought, ‘I’m just going to do this thing and if they like me, they like me and if not, oh well,’” said Cameron, now 22 and a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University. “And they liked me.”
She won that pageant and quite a few more. In June, the Massaponax High School graduate earned the title Miss Virginia.
She’s used each victory to promote the cause of HIV- and AIDS-prevention, speaking candidly about risky behavior, urging teens to ask questions and get educated, and working hard to remove the stigmas associated with the disease.
She competes in the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas Jan. 30, where she hopes to impress the judges with her poise, knowledge of current events and a stirring rendition of “Listen” from the film “Dreamgirls.”
But mostly, she said, it’s a key opportunity to take her message about AIDS to a national stage.
“The challenge is that some people don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “It’s kind of like the elephant in the room, and we can no longer ignore the elephant in the room when the next generation’s life is at stake.”