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.”
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