One person’s accessory is another person’s opportunity.

A crown placed upon UCSB freshman Carley Ryckman’s head, officially awarding her the title of Miss Santa Barbara County 2010, was another stepping stone in her years-long dream of aiding underprivileged children.

The pageant, which concluded with Ryckman’s crowning on January 23, was a process months in the making. Preparation for all portions of the event – talent, interview, evening gown, swimsuit, and an onstage question – required a lot of “talking, walking, and running around,” Ryckman said.

Miss Santa Barbara County Carley Ryckman

For Ryckman, however, such preparation is par for the pageant course – she has competed in five since she started as a high school sophomore. To ready herself for the Miss Santa Barbara County pageant, Ryckman “read a couple of pages in a current events magazine each night” and practiced answering questions presumed likely for the onstage portion. Most difficult, she said, was “coming up with and perfecting a talent routine that is only 90 seconds long.” Perfect it apparently she did, performing an Irish dance to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and consequently earning the pageant’s award for best talent.

Above all else, Ryckman maintains, is her pageant platform: her commitment to serving underprivileged kids. Having volunteered since she was eight years old for The Dream Fund Outreach – a Westlake Village (Ryckman’s hometown) based non-profit organization –Ryckman has among other things helped raise over $3,000 towards scholarships and field trips. Now, as Miss Santa Barbara County, Ryckman wants to “encourage all children to realize that their dreams are important and attainable with hard work and dedication, and that anything is possible for their lives.”

Ryckman’s life is going to be very busy for the next several months. What with being a full-time student, as well as member of UCSB’s Novice Women’s rowing team, and now Miss Santa Barbara County, Ryckman has had to learn to juggle. “I definitely never have a free moment yet I always find time to do more,” she said.

As for her upcoming debut at the Miss California pageant in July, Ryckman remains focused. “There will be so much to do. A lot of polishing. And I can’t forget about my platform while all of this is happening,” she said. If she wins that pageant, she will be in the running for the Miss America title.

Sandy Bryan, the executive director of the Miss Santa Barbara County pageant, is not worried. Calling her an “outstanding young woman,” Bryan has high hopes for Ryckman. “She already made us proud and will continue to do so,” Bryan said.


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