By Jim Welte
Crystal Lee, a 22-year-old former College of Marin student, had been vying for the title of Miss California for three years. She finally garnered the honor in June, and now the daughter of a long-time COM staff member appeared in Sunday's Miss America pageant, which was set in Atlantic City and airing on ABC.
The former Miss Silicon Valley, a native of San Francisco who served an internship at emerging tech giant Dropbox this year, competed in July against 60 other young women to earn a $12,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the national crown. It was her third attempt at the state title.
“Third time’s a charm,” she says. “If you really want it bad enough you will try again.”
Pageant competitions have provided Lee, a Stanford University graduate, with more than $40,000 in scholarships.
“I have learned so much in three years, just competing,” she says. “It’s almost like training for a marathon. The crown gave me a reason to learn how to speak well, learn how to dress, how to present myself.”
Lee competed in five phases of competition – interview, physical fitness in swimsuit, evening wear, on-stage question and talent. She took top honors on preliminary competition nights for her evening gown presentation and her ballet en pointe performance of “The Dying Swan.”
As a child, Lee used to visit the College of Marin campus with her mother, Wendy Lee, a long-time information technology staff member. She later studied dance and took a statistics course at the college.
“In a lot of ways, College of Marin has had a great impact on my life,” Lee said.
There was a public voting component in the pageant in which people could go online and vote for their favorite contestant’s video before 8 p.m. on Sept. 12. Crystal Lee’s video can be found here.