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Mentoring Young Dacula Ladies in Leadership

Former Miss Dacula Program Director, Dawn Siska gave the pageant a purpose.

In her seven years as the director of the Miss Dacula Program, Dawn Siska changed a beauty pageant into the leadership opportunity of a lifetime for young ladies in Dacula. 

When the PTSA asked Siska to take on the role of director, she asked if she could make some changes. Siska’s changes transformed a beauty pageant into a chance for these young ladies to learn how to make a difference in our community, our state, and someday the world.

“We have the opportunity of a lifetime to help the young women who participate in this, let’s not squander it,” Siska told the DHS PTSA. “Let’s focus on mentoring these young ladies in leadership.”

Some people think it is silly when they hear a young person say they want to save the world. But Siska believes that they genuinely do want to make a difference.

“No girl wants to win a crown and have it sit on her dresser to collect dust,” she explains. “They want to do something with it. They want to influence the world.”

Siska changed the program and the entire scoring criteria for the pageant. It is now called the Miss Dacula Program. She also came up with a great mission statement.

“Our mission is mentoring young ladies in public relations and community service through leadership,” Siska explained. “It’s a pageant with a purpose. It is an opportunity of a lifetime for young women to make a difference in the community during their reign and beyond.”

The Miss Dacula girls are representatives, not beauty queens. Siska stresses this point, and reminds the girls that they are representing themselves, their family, their school and their community. This is a big responsibility. In fact, it is an official responsibility. declared the Miss Dacula representatives as the honorary ambassadors for the .

“What a great honor that is for these ladies,” Siska said with great pride. “When they travel throughout the state, they are representing Dacula with their service projects, and they are representing our community with honor.  They know the mayor has trusted them to represent our community with honor and dignity, and it helps shape their inner core with confidence.”

The Miss Dacula Program is involved in an amazing amount of community service projects. In fact, according to Siska, since the pageant has taken this direction, they have over 22,000 hours of community service as a whole. 

“That just leaves me speechless,” Siska commented. “It is the girls working together and them with their own initiatives.”

This year the Miss Dacula Program received the .

“That was such an honor,” Siska commented proudly. “We are all about service in our own backyard first. Anything that happens in our community we volunteer and support them first.”

Through community service, the girls support and represent Dacula at the local level, the county level and even throughout the state.

Just a few of the many organizations the Miss Dacula Pageant helps with are the Humane Society, Gwinnett County Special Olympics, Syler’s Run, several community literacy programs, Gwinnett Junior League, StreetWise, Saving the Dacula Public Library, Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, Toys for Tots, Rely for Life, Valentines for Veterans, and ForADay Foundation. Whenever you see a donation box for the girls, all of that money goes to one of these and more organizations that they support.

Recently the girls helped with a huge campaign honoring the World War II veterans. They helped with fundraising and marketing events to interview the remaining WWII veterans on camera. They traveled throughout the state with Colonel McNair. These videos will be archived in the Library of Congress.

From the service project with Colonel McNair, Siska said that one of the girls now wants to be a stateswomen. In fact, the experiences that these girls are having devoting their time to community service is changing and molding their lives for the future. Another young lady wanted to go into broadcast journalism, but after spending a year reading to a kindergarten class, she now wants to be a teacher.  She said she thinks she can make a greater influence on the world by influencing children.

“You never know how much one event can touch someones heart,” Siska said. “There are so many different things that we are involved in, that these girls have the opportunity to see things from different perspectives.”

The girls participating in the Miss Dacula Program not only gain a perspective on life and where it will take them, but they also develop a bond of sisterhood. These girls share so many experiences together during their reign as a Miss Dacula representative, that they form friendships that will last forever.

“They will be in each other’s weddings and at their baby showers,” Siska said. “They each will tell you that even after their reign, they are just as tight years later.”

Siska has made an amazing impact on the lives of each of the girls that has gone through the Miss Dacula Program, but she believes that they in turn have made an amazing impact on her life as well.

“Their thumbprints are forever on my heart,” she said tenderly. “I am better as a person by serving as the director of the Miss Dacula Program, and I am very thankful that the Lord gave me this opportunity.”

A few months ago, Siska stepped down as the director, but she will continue her dedication by serving on the Board of Directors for the Miss Dacula Program. The board is there to support the director, serve as a checks and balances system, and preserve the integrity of the program.

“I will be focusing on the things that are going on in my own children’s lives and the doors that God is opening for them,” Siska said.

Sylvia Sasso has taken over as the new Miss Dacula Program director, and Siska has great confidence in her ability to take over this huge responsibility.

“My prayer is that it will continue to grow,” Siska said, “and I know that Sylvia will do an extraordinary job of continuing the vision and the mission of mentoring these young women in public relations and community service thorough leadership.”

Do you know someone who is making a difference in our community? Click here to let us know.

Jackie Watson January 12, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I have been honored to be Dawn's friend, sister in Christ, and colleague in this industry of building up young women (commenly referred to as "pageantry.") Since Dawn began on this journey, we have had many conversations about the vision and purpose of pageantry as a whole, and have traveled the narrow path together in making that vision become a reality in our pageant programs. Dawn has always been an exemplary role model for not only the girls in her program, but all pageant directors. I routinely call upon her wisdom and guidance in running my pageant organization and am blessed to have her as a model and mentor. THANK YOU for writing this wonderful article about Dawn and the impact she is making in the lives of everyone she touches. She is beyond a doubt, the most amazing woman I have ever met. - Jackie Watson, Founder & National Executive Director of USA National Miss.
Lisa Stokes January 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Mrs Dawn is a incredible women with a heart of Gold. The opportunities she has provided for both my Daughters will have a rippling effect in there lives and the lives of their children. She has touched everyone in our Family! She is truly a special person.
Janice January 12, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Thanks for all you do, Dawn! You are making a difference and impacting lives.
Nikki Romanik Martin January 12, 2012 at 09:30 PM
As the Director of For a Day Foundation, I can say whole heartedly that my organization would not be the same without her. She has made such a huge impact on For a Day Foundation Atlanta that she is now on my board of directors!!! I am honored to call Dawn not only a valuable and precious member of my board but also a very good friend that I can count on for advice! Congrats to a wonderful woman and leader in Georgia!
Dawn Siska January 16, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Thank you all for such kind remarks. Thank you to Dacula High School PTSA for allowing me to serve as the director of their SOLE fundraiser and to the Miss Dacula Board of Directors for their support over the years. Thank you to the community of Dacula for welcoming a program that focusing on "mentoring young ladies in public relations and community service through leadership" and supporting it and being a part of our "family". I cannot even begin to thank everyone ... but please visit our website to see our sponsors to know who they are. www.MissDacula.com I am so blessed to have been giving the opportunity to serve where my heart is ... and in that so thankful to be married to such an incredible man that facilitates my heart and gives me wings to fly. Thank you to my three incredible children who have shared me with the young ladies of Dacula and being willing to have "sisters" in the house. My family has grown, my life enriched and my heart ... satisfied. Thank you Dacula Patch and Jenn for such a beautiful heart felt article on my time of service as the director of the Miss Dacula Pageants. It is my deepest desire that the Miss Dacula Pageants and Program continues to grow in community participation and support under the directorship of Mrs. Sylvia Sasso. Our young ladies are truly some of the most EXTRAORDINARY in the WORLD and don't need a crown to make a difference ... just an opportunity ... may Miss Dacula always provide that opportunity <3

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