If you don’t know who Summer Priester is, get ready to be inspired! Summer recently captured the Miss United States 2015 title earlier this year in Washington, DC. Lady Code had the chance to interview her and show you that she is so much more than just a very pretty face! From starting her own business to volunteering in her community, this beauty queen is staying busy and using her crown to make a difference.
Hometown: Aiken, SC
Three words that sum you up: Selfless, Jaunty, and Positive
Educational Accomplishments: A Senior Retail/Fashion Merchandising student at the University of South Carolina, a magna cum laude graduate of Aiken High School, a LIFE Scholarship recipient.
Professional Accomplishments: MMG-Model Management Representation, CEO & creator of 365 Days of Summer Fragrance, Miss High School America 2011, Miss United States 2015
Favorite Quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”-Eleanor Roosevelt
Favorite Movie: The Longest Ride and Chef
What projects do you have going on at the moment?
Currently I am working on my first Celebrity Golf Tournament that will help benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Hope Harvest Food Bank.
You are a very busy girl, what is a typical day like for you?
I am a morning person, so I like to wake up around 6-7 a.m. and get my day started with a balanced breakfast and checking all my social media and emails. Then get a good 1 hour workout in whether it is taking a pure barre class, running, or doing my personalized routine. I have decided to be a full time student at the University of South Carolina along with being Miss United States. During the week I attend classes and then on the weekends I am traveling and fulfilling my duties as Miss United States. The rest of my day consists of appearances, philanthropy work or working on homework and studying for my classes. Spending time with my family and friends is an important factor in my life, so even with my busy schedule it is always a priority for me to have time with them.
Tell us about your experience competing in the Miss United States Organization:
Where do I begin! Competing for the coveted title of Miss United States in our nation’s capital was a dream come true. This is truly a special organization. From the moment I won Miss South Carolina United States I instantly became a part of a huge family and that feeling of being a part of a family continued during the week of nationals. Everyone truly cares about your well-being and they want to help showcase your best self. We were told during our first rehearsal that the Miss United States Organization was built on a hand shake and a hug, two simple gestures that go a long way. It was apparent during the week that the Organization still follows its foundation principles.
What has been the highlight of being Miss United States so far?
Wow this is an extremely hard question because I have been able to do so many incredible things in just the one month that I have been Miss United States. However, my experience as a celebrity buddy at the LA 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be one that I will never forget. It was truly a day filled with nothing but smiles, hugs, and joy! The athletes that participate at the Special Olympics are true inspirations and they inspired me with their passion, hope, positive outlook, teamwork, and determination to never give up. We can all learn so much from these athletes.
Growing up, who was your inspiration?
Growing up, my mom was always the one I looked up to. She taught me what it truly means to be hard working, self-sufficient, ambitious, and a well-rounded woman.
What are some challenges that you faced on your journey to success, and how did you overcome them?
Staying true to who I am and realizing who truly has my best interest at heart has been the two biggest challenges that I have had to face. I just have come to realize to embrace my own individuality, embrace my strengths and weakness, and embrace the life that God has blessed me with. I have learned that God places people in your life for a reason, whether they are there to stay or were there to teach a lesson, there is a purpose for everything. The people you come in contact with that truly have your best interest at heart will stay and support you through the entire journey.
Speaking of challenges: Being in the public eye makes you an easy target for cyberbullying and criticism. How do you react to the negativity?
As individuals, we have a choice when it comes to how we react and use negativity and criticism. For me, I try to analyze it to find something I can learn from and use in a positive way to improve myself and not allow it to lower my self-esteem.
Do you have any advice for our readers who may be victims of bullying?
Bullying is something a lot of your readers probably have had to deal with at some point in their lives. I too was a victim of bullying, not physically, but emotionally. I was teased for being a “pageant” girl, ostracized, and made fun of by the people I thought were my friends. I realized early on that I was too strong of an individual to become a victim of bullying. If there are readers out there who are being bullied, remember this, determination, persistence, and courage will prevail, I am living proof of that. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to despite obstacles.
Tell us about your involvement with Operation 365:
Operation 365 was created to raise hunger awareness 365 days a year through donations and volunteerism. Not many people are aware of how many people are affected daily with hunger and that it is not always who you expect. My plan with Operation 365 is not only to make more people aware of the severity of hunger but to teach small ways of how we can help relieve worry from those who struggle with hunger. I have been fortunate enough to work with my local Harvest Hope Food Bank as well as local soup kitchens.
What inspired you to get involved?
What inspired me to create Operation 365 was my first visit to the Harvest Hope Food Bank. The relieved reaction I saw on the man’s face when I pushed his buggy of food to him was a moment I will never forget. To be honest, food was something I took for granted, I have never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or when I could eat. Food has always been a staple in my household, unlike those I meet at the Food Bank and over 49 million other Americans who worry each day where and when their next meal will be. I knew once I saw their reactions that I needed to create a program that would educate the public on hunger and simple ways that we can all make a difference.
What can Lady Code readers do in their communities to get involved?
Simply volunteer at your local food bank or soup kitchen and donate can goods. Although one can won’t not end hunger its one step closer to it.
In your free time, what do you enjoy doing?
In my free time I enjoy a good workout and watching the Food Network and ENews.
Can you tell us about your 10 year plan?
Ten years from now I will be 31, at that age I see myself as an established and successful business woman and entrepreneur in the fashion industry as well as being married to my dream guy and hopefully starting a family.
What motivates you?
The future motivates me, the thought of what will happen tomorrow keeps me working hard, determined, and driven.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Honestly, the best advice I have ever received is simply be myself and embrace it.
Keep up with Summer:
Twitter: @gomissus & @realsummerpriester
Instagram: @gomissus & @realsummerpriester
Facebook: Miss United States official Fan Page
To learn more about the United States National Pageants, visit UnitedStatesCrown.com