Westmont Magazine Miss Chaty is Miss California
After appearing in her first parade as Miss California, Melissa Chaty ’06 discovered she’d become a role model overnight. “I was walking around at the end of the event, and a little girl ran up out of nowhere and hugged me,” Melissa says. “She had no idea who I was, but she saw the crown on my head and trusted me. It touched me and motivated me to be someone who makes a difference in people’s lives, someone known for character and integrity.”
In addition to making personal appearances throughout the state, Melissa will promote greater awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, which she chose as her platform. A marketing and administrative assistant for the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego/Imperial Chapter, she watched her grandfather deteriorate from the condition before he died in February. The man who used to hold her hand and take her to feed the ducks at Lake Mendocino “progressed backward from an adult to an infant,” she says. “He was such a great, strong, independent person. It was difficult to see him unable to take care of himself.”
Melissa entered the Miss Mendocino contest in 2002 for one reason: she was guaranteed a $1,000 scholarship just for participating. When she won, she received $5,000 for college; she enrolled at Westmont later that year and made her first appearance in the Miss California pageant. In 2005, she became Miss Southwest California, in 2006, Miss Greater Ventura County, and in 2007, Miss North Coast. Each victory sent her back to the Miss California competition. On her fourth try in June, she took the title and will represent the state in the Miss America pageant early in 2008. In all, she received more than $25,000 for college. If she becomes Miss America, she will use the $50,000 scholarship to earn a master’s degree in non-profit management. One day she hopes to direct a charitable organization that meets critical community needs.
“The pageants helped me afford Westmont,” Melissa says. She also earned a Dean’s Scholarship from the college as well as a music scholarship. Despite a love for music, she majored in psychology to prepare for a job helping people. She minored in music, sang in the College Choir, belonged to the opera club and studied voice. For the Miss California talent competition, she performed “The Jewel Song” from the opera “Faust.”
The pageants have given Melissa more than scholarships. “I have grown a lot, developed self-confidence, gained experience as a performer and become skilled at interviewing,” she says. “I have also learned how to eat healthier, stay in shape and take care of myself.”
Melissa appreciated the sense of supportive community she experienced at Westmont, and she misses it. “Being surrounded by people of like minds who share the same faith and vocation was a blessing, and I don’t think it can ever be replicated,” she says. Instead, she is focused on what she can give. “I feel a need to work for a cause, to help people in need,” she says.