When Samantha Brown visits a classroom, she asks students to close their eyes.
If money was no object, what would be their dream job?
Forget all the discouragement they might hear from family, friends or others, she says.
Then, Miss Tri-Cities 2014 helps them focus and map out how to achieve their goal, step-by-step.
She shows them how to pursue their dream through scholarships and education funding programs.
The work is part of Brown’s platform — Roadmap to Success: Driven by Passion.
Brown, 21, has spoken to hundreds of students about a federal program that provides grants to kids from low-income families wanting to attend college. It’s called GEAR UP — Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.
The program helps students, starting in middle school, to be academically, socially and financially prepared to further their education.
She has spoken to state legislators and state schools Superintendent Randy Dorn about how they should focus on more than just financial needs, but also on how to properly equip students to become successful adults.
“By the time they graduate, they know exactly what they want to do,” she said.
Brown also was involved with GEAR UP in Hawaii, where she attended Chaminade University her first two years. “It’s not just a platform, it’s a passion of mine,” she said.
Her platform is particularly relevant in this day and age, said Dot Stewart, executive director for the scholarship pageant program.
“She’s done a really good job of speaking to the students and getting them motivated for the future,” she said.
Brown began practice this week at a Kennewick church, preparing to leave June 26 for the July 2-3 Miss Washington pageant in Burien.
She is working with the 10 2015 Miss Tri-Cities candidates and nine Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen contestants, many of whom she helped recruit.
“We have a lot of new faces,” said Brown who also won the outstanding teen contest in 2009. “It’s good to reach a new demographic, rather than have a lot of returnees. We love our returnees too, but it’s nice to have new girls.”
She plans to reprise her performance of All that Jazz because the show tune allows her to combine singing and acting. Brown also is working on mock interviews, making sure she is familiar with current events.
She hopes to hand over her crown at the July 15 Miss Tri-Cities pageant as the new Miss Washington, getting ready for the Miss America competition. But, even if she does not win, it’s been a memorable year.
The Columbia High grad from Burbank has been traveling back and forth to Pullman, where she is majoring in strategic communication and human development.
Brown wants to be a brand strategist for a nonprofit organization.
“I take great pride in representing the Tri-Cities,” she said. “To represent Washington, not only on the Miss America stage, but all around Washington, would be incredible.”