It takes a community to build a leader, or so says Acacia Schmietenknop. And she should know.
The former Miss Kamloops was named one of three B.C. ambassadors on Saturday, along with Trail's Carly Hennigar and Castlegar's Mariah Morris, after a week long competition in Merritt.
Schmietenknop credited the support she received from the entire community, including the City of Kamloops, for keeping her going.
"This past spring I was honoured to received the distinguished service award from the City," she said. "To receive that honour from the City meant so much and it just showed that they support everything I do. So that came with pressure to really do a good job."
That pressure and the provincial level of competition made for "the most stressful week of life," she said.
Based on the crowd's reaction when her name was announced, Schmietenknop had no shortage of supporters in the audience either.
"All of the (Miss Kamloops) girls that came - the current royalty, the past royalty, other families, our committee - the whole group just got up and I could hear them all screaming," said Teresa Dares, B.C. Ambassador Program stage director and Miss Kamloops organizer.
Schmietenknop earned the title with a talent (a vocal and piano performance of At Last) a speech (entitled What's in a Name?) and a three-hour test on all things B.C. She finished in the top five of each category.
Dares said she was thrilled to see Schmietenknop crowned.
"I'm so happy for her," she said. "I've known Acacia since she was 15 and she lacked confidence. I've just seen her grow so much. She's done an amazing job. Like her public speaking, it's just phenomenal."
That's the point of the programs like Miss Kamloops and B.C. Ambassadors, said Dares.
The British Columbia Ambassador Program is an annual event open to anyone aged 17 to 23 who has previously held an ambassador title in British Columbia.
Schmietenknop was Miss Kamloops in 2008 and became a member of the Miss Kamloops committee while instructing the pageant competitors in speech and public speaking. And she's spoken out about youth and community issues ever since.
Now it's up to her to decide which events she'll attend to promote B.C. and Kamloops and fulfill her mandate of promoting education, motivation and self-esteem. She said she intends to participate in more than 20 pageants over the next year.