Fleming Island’s Carnegie to represent Clay at Miss Florida Teen USA

College student uses platform to create awareness to arteriovenous malformation

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 10/21/20

FLEMING ISLAND – Erica Carnegie, 18, has been selected to represent Clay County at the Miss Florida Teen USA competition next year.

Carnegie recently learned that she’ll represent the county …

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Fleming Island’s Carnegie to represent Clay at Miss Florida Teen USA

College student uses platform to create awareness to arteriovenous malformation

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Erica Carnegie, 18, has been selected to represent Clay County at the Miss Florida Teen USA competition next year.

Carnegie recently learned that she’ll represent the county April’s Miss Florida Teen USA pageant, and she couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity. It’s an chance for her to showcase years of personal work but also a chance to highlight something very important and close-to-home.

“My platform is [arteriovenous malformation] and rare disease awareness,” Carnegie said. “Specifically, aneurysms and AVM because I’m an AVM survivor. It’s like a clump of blood vessels on the brain or elsewhere in the head that can cause an aneurysm, strokes, internal bleeding or even death. After I had corrective surgery, I wanted to find an organization to talk to others with an AVM about their experience.”

Miss Florida Teen USA will be the largest stage yet for Carnegie to spread awareness of AVM and the National Youth Ambassador Program for The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation she founded. Carnegie founded the first youth ambassador program for the foundation after simply reaching out to them to ask about whether a program like it existed. She was given the opportunity to kick the program off and assemble a team of other ambassadors.

There’s now a team of 10 youth ambassadors in the program and Carnegie is thrilled about it.

“To know I helped assemble a team of individuals like this, to know I brought them together, it makes me so happy,” Carnegie said.

She’s excited to use the platform of April’s pageant to talk even more about AVM, the foundation and the youth ambassador program. April’s pageant will be the culmination of years of pageantry for the 18-year-old college student.

Her first pageant was the Miss Clay County Fair pageant and she recalls how shy and reserved she was back then. She said she “never would have guessed she’d be where she’s at today” when she was on that stage in 2016. She caught a bug that year though and, after receiving encouragement to do more from her mother who was also into pageantry, pageants became a yearly thing for Carnegie.

Now she’s competing in one of the largest pageants in Florida with hopes to become Miss Florida Teen USA where she’ll then move on to compete in Miss Teen USA.

“Competing in pageants has allowed me to expand my platform and it’s made me more outspoken, outgoing and better at public speaking and interviews,” Carnegie said. “I hope to inspire younger girls who want to do pageants or are currently in pageantry much like I was inspired to do so by the girls that came before me.”

Carnegie currently coaches other girls in pageantry and hopes to continue doing so in the years to come. Beyond April’s pageant, she has her eyes set on practicing law. She’s currently a first-year student at Stetson University, but a junior by credits after earning an associate degree through Dual Enrollment at Fleming Island High, and has plans to practice corporate and entertainment law.

Carnegie was a member of the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society in high school and also was the recipient of the Principal’s Scholar Academic Award all four years of high school and the recipient of the Principal’s Scholar Leadership Award. She served as a peer tutor in Spanish and Math and a member of the Great Decisions Club and the Beta Club. She fell in love with the idea of practicing law as a teen attorney in the Clay County Teen Court program.

She’s received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the Jax PAL 2020 Game Changer Award, the 2019 Jacksonville Outstanding Teen Award and the 2018 Young Woman of Distinction Award. She’s attending Stetson University on an academic scholarship and is a member of the National Organization for Women, Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority and the SCUBA club. She’s also an intern at Crowns Magazine where she interviews community activists and writes her “Today’s Interview With Erica” column.

“I continue to do pageantry because of all the amazing and inspirational women I’ve met and because I know I’m bettering myself, my interview skills and my public speaking skills,” Carnegie said. “I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”

Carnegie is looking for sponsors before April’s pageant and said that anyone interested in sponsoring her can go to www.MissFloridaUSA.com/Sponsor for more information on how to do that.

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