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Feb. 8 was a day I will never forget. It was my big day of fun. I

accomplished three things that I set out to do when I won my title as Miss

Napa County in March 2011. I recorded a public service announcement in the morning, I gave a presentation for a class of Valley Oak High School

students and was part of a short segment on “On the Edge” with Doris Gentry,

one of my favorite local shows.

My goal for the day was to paint a vivid picture of the person underneath

the sash and crown. I spoke of misconceptions people have about pageants,

adversities I’ve faced in my life such as struggling with a learning

disability, being biracial — for which I was constantly made fun of growing

up — and my mother passing away from lung cancer in October 2009, which was

by far the most devastating time of my life. Additionally, it was important

for me to promote the Miss Napa County Scholarship Program and to advocate

my platform, which is mentoring for the Big Brothers Big Sisters

organization.

If it wasn’t for the help and support of those who contributed to this great

day, it wouldn’t have been possible. I want to give special thanks to Mark

Hiza, my dear friend and mentor, who managed the entire day and made

everything run smoothly; Napa TV; Valley Oak High School’s wonderful

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principle, Maria Cisneros; Justin Bernard, who did an excellent job

directing and editing the public service announcement; Matt Vogel, a student

who took pictures of the presentation; and Pizza Guys for supplying  pizza

for the students.

My one-year reign has come to an end, and I will happily crown the next

young lady. I wish the best of luck to the next woman who gets the

opportunity to make a difference within our beautiful community.

Ashley Mendez, Miss Napa County 2011 / Napa

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