FAIRBANKS — Just home from a fun five days in Chicago as a contestant in the Miss Teen International pageant, Taiya Thompson, of North Pole, is planning to continue spreading the word about her pageant platform — social media awareness issues that teenagers face on Facebook and Twitter.
The 18-year-old recent North Pole High School graduate has first-hand experience about the dangers of putting out too much personal information on the Internet. A year ago, while on a family vacation Outside, she and her sister put up vacation photos and her family’s home was robbed in North Pole.
“It was pretty devastating,” Thompson recalled, but eventually the thief was caught and the stolen items were recovered.
“Not just teenagers, but everyone should be cautious about what they are posting,” she added.
Thompson said social media awareness is a serious issue for teens and she wants to educate middle school and high school teens to think about potential negative outcomes before posting thoughtless, rude or untrue statements on Facebook or Twitter which can cause a lot of problems at school, their workplace, and their futures.
“I’ve seen a physical fight just start over something on Facebook,” she said.
Thompson’s road to the Chicago pageant started with a letter solicitation that was fully checked out by her mother, and followed up with photos and a phone interview. She received the Miss Alaska International Teen sash and crown in March. She began raising money to help with expenses for travel and expenses to represent Alaska in the international pageant.
Her mother, Billie Jo Thompson, and four family members accompanied her to the Windy City.
Despite long exhausting days of preparation, local appearances and rehearsals with 37 other contestants, including an opening dance number, Thompson said she had a blast.
The teenage contestants were interviewed, learned a dance routine, modeled sports wear, fun fashion wear and evening gowns.
Although Thompson didn’t win, she love the experience.
“The best experiences were rehearsals with the girls,” she said.
Thompson is already back on the job as a barista, saving for college. She plans to enroll for the winter term at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for an eventual career in the medical field.
Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.