In today’s modern day and age, there are many things that are brought to attention, everything from education and individual rights to environment and government. But something that is often overlooked is what we are closest to and what surrounds us in our everyday lives: lifting each other up. Rosie Haibon has made sure that this very topic does not get forgotten about or tossed to the side.
|Windham's Rosie Haibon will compete in|
the Miss International Teen Pageant later
this month in South Portland. She won the
title of Miss Maine Sweetheart Teen
in 2020. COURTESY PHOTO
Haibon is a 2021 Windham High School graduate and in 2018, when she was 15 years old, Haibon competed in her first Young American Women of Service (YAWOS) pageant.
The Young American Women of Service, along with the American Women Pageants, which include the American Women of Service and Young American Women of Service, are international pageants that empower young women to become the best version of themselves by inspiring others and volunteering.
Haibon says that she started doing pageants because of her sister. The first pageant she competed in was the Miss Sensational pageant, which was created for women with disabilities.
“My sister and I both have autism, so this pageant was an amazing experience for the both of us to bond,” said Haibon.
At her second Miss Sensational pageant she was asked by one of our local directors for the state pageant if she would come and compete for one of her titles.
“I was very flattered she thought I was that good at pageantry, and I happily accepted,” says Haibon. “Little did I know that she would bring into a family of sisters, and she opened the door to a passion I didn’t know I had in me.”
She was first runner up the first year she competed, and in 2020, she was crowned Miss Maine Sweetheart Teen.
Her service as Miss Maine Sweetheart Teen is to educate and bring awareness to our state platform, bullying prevention and education. This is done in numerous ways, and through various actions and she also acts as a representative and an advocate for those who are bullied but don’t have a voice.
“I work to bring awareness to such a heartbreaking topic, one that needs to be discussed more everywhere,” says Haibon.
The YAWOS works to provide to the community through various acts of volunteerism.
“I focused on the Girl Scout Troop 1187, who I love with my heart and soul. We focused on a few different topics, my favorite to discuss with them was how to prevent bullying and how we can help someone being bullied,” said Haibon.
She also got to talk about feelings with the girls, and how to express emotions.
“I work alongside my 11 other sister queens to be proactive against bullying prevention. I also work to bring education about my own personal platform, Autism education and awareness,” Haibon said.
In her latest pageant, Haibon will be competing for the title of Miss International on July 27 at the DoubleTree in South Portland. To be crowned as Miss International Teen, one must first compete and win a state competition, which Haibon has done.
Judging for International Teen includes four stages of competition: runway, evening gown, optional competition, and personal interview. Each is worth various percentages of the score, with the interview segment being scored the highest.
“My optional competition is presenting a speech, but there are a variety of choices. Judges will also pay attention to how I conduct myself throughout the week, and how I act towards others,” said Haibon. “Should someone not be conducting themselves properly or be caught misbehaving, it can take away from their scores.”
Unlike what social media portrays, where girls are snarky and mean to each other, the girls Haibon is competing with are becoming very close friends.
“I want to win Miss International because it would break a stigma. In social media, pageants are portrayed as shallow, fake and with mean girls bullying each other. This isn’t true at all. Every girl I have met has been nothing but kind and welcomed me with open arms,” says Haibon. “But on top of this, I am proving that as someone with a disability, I can do just as much and more than someone who is neurotypical. I am breaking the wall that people who have disabilities can’t do what others can, and I can’t wait to take a sledgehammer to that metaphorical wall of a stigma.”
She said that the girls that she has met in her years of pageantry are the kindest, sweetest group of women that she has met in her life.
“They are my sisters, my best friends. I look to them for guidance and support. We uplift each other and protect one another. We like the phrase ‘Fixing each other's crowns’. Our system is all about empowering women and raising each other up,” Haibon said. “Our system focuses on not only who we are as people, but our community service and involvement and our academic achievements. I’m so proud to work with these wonderful women, and I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing group.” <