Not shying away from the spotlight, but rather finding opportunities to head straight for it, is how Bethany Schneider rolls.
Bethany, an 18-year-old Fulton High School senior, was recently chosen as a state finalist for the National American Miss pageant. This will be her third year competing at the pageant, which will be held June 24-26 in Columbia. Not satisfied to compete only in the NAM program this year, she also plans to travel to Chicago to try out for "The X-Factor," an upcoming TV show starring Simon Cowell. She will audition for the show on April 27 to see if her singing talents pass par.
"She knows she can do whatever she puts her mind to," said Vicki Schneider, Bethany's mother.
If Bethany is selected as a winner of the NAM pageant in Missouri, she will receive a free trip to the national competition in California. According to the NAM program, the pageant puts emphasis on "the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning good sportsmanship and setting and achieving personal goals." Girls ages 4 to 18 compete in five different age divisions. Contestants are judged over the course of three days, with the final day including three events where each girl is scored according to her presentation. On the final day, the contestants must do a personal introduction, interviews and a formal wear competition. During the two days prior to the final day, other options are available to win a national spot, including a talent competition. As in the past, Bethany will be singing.
Vicki Schneider says having to go through interviews is good experience for the contestants and helps them learn how to be interviewed when it comes time to find a job. Bethany said the whole process builds self-esteem.
"You really do gain a lot more confidence in yourself," she said.
Bethany admits she's been guilty of being too nervous in past years.
"I know you can see it, and I know you can hear it in my voice," she recalls.
However, she said putting forth that confidence to calm her nerves is something she plans to focus on at this year's competition.
Bethany also keeps herself busy at school. She's in the FHS theater group, The Rising Stars, on her school's bowling team and is a member of the National Honor Society. If her dream career of becoming a singer doesn't pan out, she plans to attend Stephens College in Columbia after graduating. But plans for college have to wait until after her trip to Chicago. She said "The X-Factor's" $5 million prize and recording contract for the winner was a temptation just to good to pass up.
"I figured, why not?" she said.