On June 24th, at the Capital High School Performing Arts Center, Emily Hamilton, a varsity cheerleader from Mount Si High School (MSHS), shone brightly. Initially recognized as Miss Seattle’s Teen, she triumphed over twenty-two peers to secure the title of Miss Washington’s Teen 2023.
This victory not only brought her recognition but also awarded her a generous $7,500 scholarship. Emily intends to use this in her communication studies post-high school.
Hamilton’s journey to this milestone is a testament to resilience and determination. She was born and raised in the Snoqualmie Valley with her family, including twin Michael and Father Jim.
But Emily’s love for pageants began at the tender age of 5, inspired by her mother, Donna, and older sister, Abigail, who were also involved in pageants. Fast forward to February 25th, 2023, Emily won Miss Seattle’s Teen title, leading her to the state pageant in June.
Emily’s triumph is even more remarkable, given her neurodivergent status. With ADHD, high-functioning autism, and social communication disorder, Emily has faced challenges but is determined not to let her neurological disabilities define her. Instead, she says, “I want to inspire other girls who might have been born on the spectrum just to be themselves. Although we may have to work ten times harder to be just as good, anything is possible.”
Being a singer and stage actress, the talent, evening gown and other onstage competitions were always Emily’s strongest areas. However, her multiple neurological disabilities meant the Interview competition was extremely challenging. With ADHD, Autism, and Social Communication Disorder, being able to respond to questions and connect with a panel of judges was very difficult. Emily often felt she needed to work ten times harder to be just as good as the neurotypical contestants.
It helped her develop a strong work ethic and made her successes sweeter. She has worked with a pageant interview coach (Chris Montgomery, Believe Pageant Consulting) and a Speech Pathologist (Varee Gordan, SPARC Speech Therapy) to improve her interview skills, build her confidence, and help her achieve success.
Emily’s extraordinary resolve is evident in her journey to the crown and her involvement with the community service initiative, Rising from Homelessness to Housing, which she passionately supports.
Her success in the competition was also underscored by her performances in the talent and evening gown rounds. For the talent competition, Emily captivated the audience and judges with a powerful rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
Currently a student of Cascade Voice Academy in Snoqualmie and an alumnus of the Village Institute Performing Arts School in Issaquah. Emily achieved her first professional performing arts role when she played “Skater” and was the understudy for the “Little Girl” in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of the Broadway Musical “Ragtime.”
Emily’s responsibilities as Miss Washington’s Teen are many. From making public appearances at community events, schools, and civic organizations to promoting her Community Service Initiative, Emily has a busy year ahead.
One of her key missions will be to continue her advocacy work with Homeless Encampment Tent City 4, a cause close to her heart for the past ten years. As the first neurodivergent state titleholder, she also hopes to inspire other girls on the spectrum or with other disabilities to participate in the Miss America program.
Emily’s journey doesn’t stop here. Her next challenge lies at the national competition – the Miss America’s Teen Competition in January. After her teen reign, Emily plans to continue competing in the Miss America system as a Miss contestant. After graduating from Mount Si High School in 2024, Emily will head to college to major in Communications with a minor in Voice (Vocal Performance/Singing).
From a senior at MSHS to Miss Washington’s Teen 2023, Emily Hamilton’s story is an inspiring tale of resilience, determination, and hard work. She embodies the mission of the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization and the Miss America Organization, both of which are committed to empowering young women through education and service. As Emily sets forth to inspire other girls, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!