Miss University 2016

Brooke Gatchell

Living a Balanced Life

Libras are known for having balanced lives. As a libra, this is something that I feel I am competent at. Balance is very important to have in order to live a fulfilling, healthy, and gratifying life (or at least I think so).

To me living a balanced life means that you can juggle your studies, work, do extra curriculars, family, friends, and time for yourself and not feel overwhelmed or stressed. To master this, it takes time and practice. Living a balanced life is not easy, that’s for sure. Everyone has their own definition of balance. But as long as you feel content (or more than content), then you’re golden.

When things in my life go out of balance I start to go off my rocker. At the beginning of the semester I was going to school, working, being a state officer for SkillsUSA, hung out with friends, saw my family often, and had a boyfriend. My life was balanced and I felt more than satisfied with how things were going. But on September 22nd, my life changed.

I was crowned Miss University 2016. One of the best days of my life. But it was another thing to add to the many other things that I was already juggling. Unfortunately I had to go on an academic leave from waitressing so that I could focus and bring balance back to my life. One of the hardest parts about this is prioritizing. And it all really depends on the type of person you are or what matters most to you.

Throughout life random things will be thrown at you. Finding and knowing balance will make these occurrences easier and easier as they come. And sometimes your life won’t allow room for certain things such as relationships or friendships. But the most important thing to remember is that you and your mental health comes before anything. 



Why I admire Essena O’Neill

19 year old Instagram star Essena O’Neill decided to cut social media completely out of her life. Why? She woke up and realized how fake it all was. The actualization came to her when she realized that for 7 years her main goal was to get likes and followers and if she didn’t, then she wouldn’t feel good about herself. Her posts were “fake” and didn’t depict what was actually going on in that moment and she would post pictures solely to advertise for clothing in exchange for money. She wasn’t actually living life.

After coming to this realization she didn’t just delete all of her accounts and throw her past away, she did something that would actually IMPACT and CHANGE the world. Essena deleted photos on her Instagram that she thought weren’t relevant and changed the captions on the pictures she kept to what was actually happening in the photo.  A lot of what she said was inspiring to me. With almost every revised caption, she kept stating how social media is an illusion.

Essena did decide to delete all of her accounts (which I am disappointed about because her new captions were inspirational and were a great example of what social media obsession can do to you). But she now has her own website called, “Lets Be Game Changers”. On the site there is a video of Essena without makeup on explaining why she quit social media and how it negatively impacted her life, with a written explanation as to why.

Here is a paragraph from her website: “I spent my whole childhood searching for social approval, wishing I could be of value to others. Desperately hoping one day I would be widely loved, admired or just appreciated. I felt ugly, out of place, nerdy and a ‘nobody’ growing up. I felt lost and unloved… I found so much instant gratification in social media. It was the first time people told me how great I was, excessively, continually… ‘You’re so perfect’ ‘You’re so pretty’ ‘You’re my inspiration’.  But for what? I edited and perfected a celebrity construct of myself. I was born into the flesh I have and society said ‘you fit our nearly impossible standards for women’. Social media became my whole life and a profiting career. It was an addiction for me. I made content to get approval, not to authentically express myself. I glorified artificial beauty. I endorsed products that arguably deceive youth into thinking they’re not enough.”

Throughout high school I noticed that people were always trying to get the approval of others and it seemed as though their only goal was to be liked and admired. Unfortunately I still witness this whenever I am scrolling through my feed, whether it be Facebook or Instagram. I also see posts and pictures of girls specifically who “seem” happy and “seem” like they love themselves but in real life they’re miserable and self-conscious.

So why do people obsess over what people think of them in the cyber world and aren’t focussing on their health, living life and living in the moment? We only have ONE life and we shouldn’t be wasting our time in front of screens or desperately trying to get the approval of others.

I’ll leave you with this: Although I do have social media accounts I use them to keep in touch with family and friends, network, inspire, create and update the world on my many adventures. After reading and listening to Essena’s story, she impacted my views on social media and I have decided to limit my use of it. I will continue to share her story because I think self- love and self-acceptance are two of the most important things to accomplish in this life. You cannot accomplish that through posting or gaining followers.

Essena’s website:

The Miss America Organization

“Developed by the Miss America Organization, the Miss America program exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women and to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. The program provides a forum for today’s young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments to audiences during the telecast and to the public-at-large during the ensuing year. Almost all contestants have either received, or are in the process of earning, college or postgraduate degrees and utilize Miss America scholarship grants to further their educations.To become Miss America, a contestant must first win a local competition and then compete to represent her state, a process requiring personal commitment, hard work and talent. Thousands of women participate each year in the local and state events, culminating in the selection of 52 national finalists who vie for the Miss America title. Tens of thousands of volunteers organize the local and state preliminary competitions, promoting community involvement throughout the United States and furthering scholarship and achievement among young women in their communities.The Miss America Organization has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to raise funds and awareness for children’s hospitals throughout the United States. Contestants competing in Miss America-sponsored competitions raise donations through appearances and fundraisers that benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Miss America Scholarship Fund. In addition, each new Miss America becomes the goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, speaking on behalf of kids treated at children’s hospitals and raising awareness around the country. It’s just another way the Miss America Organization helps young women leave a legacy of service, scholarship, and support.”


SkillsUSA is a national organization that was created 50 years ago to assist filling in the skills gap and to prepare secondary and postsecondary students in their skilled and technical occupations. SkillsUSA brings students, teachers and industry leaders together as a partnership to reach the same goal of preparing students for leadership within the workforce.   The National Leadership and Skills Conference is made up of over 100 trade and leadership skill competitions. Students compete at the state level and if they win gold, they compete at the national level.

If you want to learn more or become a part of SkillsUSA you can either contact me through this website or go to

My Platform

Promoting Technical Careers that keep America Alive

Did you know that 10,000 people over the age of 65 will retire every day for the next 19 years? Most people who are retiring are the tradesman of our country. They are our plumbers, electricians, construction workers, chefs, HVAC specialists, carpenters and many more. These jobs are essential for everyday life and imperative for a well functioning country. An ongoing and current crisis that the United States is going through is the “skills gap”. The skills gap is happening because so many people are retiring every day and we don’t have enough skilled and educated workers to put out into the workforce. As many as 600,000 skilled jobs are vacant.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are the answer to this problem. By promoting and informing about technical education we can then get more people involved and enrolled into these programs to produce the skilled and educated workers we need. SkillsUSA is a national organization that was created 50 years ago to assist filling in the skills gap and to prepare secondary and postsecondary students in their skilled and technical occupations. The leadership conference is made up of 99 trade and leadership skill competitions where students compete at the state level and if they win gold, they compete at the national level.

So why are CTE programs and SkillsUSA so important to me? I began my culinary class during my junior year of high school at the Seacoast School of Technology and it changed my life. It gave me direction and guidance as to what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I made lifelong friends and connections and also networked throughout the culinary/hospitality industry within the seacoast area. I was able to complete two college courses during my senior year and graduate with my Managers ServSafe Certification. It got me involved with SkillsUSA where I won two gold medals and became a part of something bigger than myself.
What would have my life been like if I didn’t know about my trade school? I still wouldn’t know what I would’ve wanted to do with my career. There are so many young adults that don’t know what they want to do with their lives and the opportunities that lay right in front of them that could potentially make and change their life. I personally feel as though it is my obligation to reach out to inform and educate about the skills gap and SkillsUSA to give my peers the amazing opportunities that I am blessed and appreciative to have. I want to bring light to the importance of the dignity of work and education.

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