Let your light SHINE

Published 12:06 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

0307 mrs alabama

Straughn girls hear message from Mrs. Alabama USA

Dothan mother of five Rebecca Suggs isn’t your everyday pageant queen.

The reigning Mrs. Alabama USA won the title last year in what was only her second beauty pageant in her lifetime, and since then she’s been traveling spreading her “Let Your Light Shine” message to middle school girls everywhere.

Suggs visited Straughn Middle School Thursday to share her message and help middle school girls believe in themselves.

Suggs said a “20/20” special about pageants made her want to compete in the pageants. She learned there was a “Mrs.” Division and entered the Mrs. Alabama America pageant, where she finished in the top 5, before competing for the title she now holds.

Suggs told the fifth, sixth and seventh graders gathered in the SMS gym that she knew she didn’t have the experience the other women competing did, but that she worked hard.

“It was such an honor to wear the crown,” she said. “But to me, it’s so much more than just a title and sash. I get to connect with girls and women. This is my 15th school, and I’ve been able to speak to 2,000 middle school girls.”

Suggs shared photographs of herself as a middle schooler to show the girls that though they may be going through an awkward phase, that they look they way they should.

Her message to them was simple, yet important – even a little light can make a different.

It is based on Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Suggs used the letters in “SHINE” to make her points to the girls.

• Stop comparing yourself to others. Be your own person.

“Don’t compare yourselves to others,” she said. “Be the best that you can be. Everyone has different passions and that’s OK. Embrace your abilities.”

• Heart of compassion and kindness.

“Words are very powerful,” she said. “We all know the saying, ‘sticks and stones can break our bones, but words will never hurt.’ We know that words do hurt. It could be something a friend of ours said jokingly, but it hurts our feelings. We need to be mindful of others’ feelings and not tear them down.”

Suggs told the girls that she always greets people with a smile and makes eye contact and it’s something that people appreciate.

• Inspire others by thinking positive.

“Don’t think negative about yourselves,” she said.

Suggs acknowledged that women often think poorly of themselves or lack self-confidence.

“We are often our own worst critic,” she said. “We should press the delete button and replace those thoughts with positive ones and turn up the volume. If we think positive, it can make a difference and it can be really contagious.”

• Never stop chasing your dreams.

Suggs said that while sometimes our dreams may not happen when we want them to, it’s important to keep trying.

Suggs told the girls that she competed in the national pageant in Las Vegas but didn’t win. Bt that she had an amazing experience.

“Enjoy your journey,” she said. “Don’t make it about winning. God has good plans for our lives.”

• Expect great things.

Suggs referenced Michael Jordan’s famous quote, “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.”

She encouraged the girls to be a Winnie the Pooh and not an Eeyore.