Kristin Cleavinger isn't a beauty queen. Not yet, at least. The 17-year-old high school student and La Jolla native is taking the stage for her first pageant this November, competing for the title of Miss California Teen USA 2012. And judging by our encounter, we'd put money on her taking the crown.
Name: Kristin Cleavinger
School: Scripps Ranch High School
Accomplishment: Representing La Jolla in the Miss California Teen USA Pageant
When Cleavinger signed on with Abrams Artist Agency in Los Angeles, she was hoping to expand her theatrical performance resume and maybe participate in a few photo shoots. What she wasn’t expecting was to be swept into the whirlwind pageant world. Nevertheless, when she saw the ad for Miss California Teen, she couldn’t pass it up.
“I’ve always been very involved, and I love volunteering,” she said. “I realized that this was a great outlet to do that. Plus, it was something I had never done before.”
After Cleavinger impressed recruiters over the phone, she went through an in-person interview and was ultimately chosen as Miss La Jolla Teen. Fittingly, Cleavinger wasted no time fundraising for her participation in November’s pageant, working hard to raise the $850 registration fee among other costs. Ironically, Cleavinger, who now works at Sprinkles cupcakes in La Jolla, raised a large amount of the cost by selling cupcakes by the dozen and asking friends and family for donations. She was overwhelmed by the response.
“Everyone has been so supportive,” she said. “I really feel like if I won this thing, it would be like everyone else winning too.”
Cleavinger’s participation in the pageant will include three sections: evening gown, interview and swimsuit. All three require a great deal of preparation, including practicing public speaking, staying up to date with current events, watching videos of past pageants, eating healthy and working out.
In addition to prepping for the pageant, Cleavinger participates in a variety of community activities. Keeping with her theatrical roots, she serves on the student board and is a musical theatre instructor at the Scripps Performing Arts Academy. An activity most dear to her heart, however, is her participation in Isabella’s Giraffe Club, a nonprofit that provides support to families with infants in a neonatal intensive care unit or who have lost infants.
“Kristin is an amazing and beautiful example of the accomplished women I look for,” said Courtney Hughes, a Miss California Teen USA recruiter. “Kristin exudes the perfect blend of confidence and humility.”
With so much on her plate, it’s a wonder that Cleavinger is able to keep up. When things get overwhelming, however, she simply remembers the support of the community.
“I always try to remember why I’m here and who got me here,” she said. “I’m not just doing this for myself. I want to represent La Jolla and California as a whole.”
Currently, Cleavinger is working diligently on a fundraiser for Isabella’s Giraffe Club, selling $10 raffle tickets for a chance to win two dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles, valued at $80. For more information, visit her Facebook page.