Last fall, Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Ohio's Lt. j.g. Kellie Hall competed in MISS OHIO USA pageant where she landed top 15 out of 53 contestants. Hall shared what inspired her and how she ties her participation in meeting the command's recruiting mission.

The MISS OHIO USA 2017 pageant was held at Kuss Auditorium in Springfield, Ohio where the Stafford, Va. native would compete against more than 100 women representing every corner and every major city in Ohio.

Competing for the first time began with Hall just wanting to meet new people as she was reporting to Ohio for duty as the assistant operations officer. Before her arrival to Ohio, the desire to compete grew into something more, being able to represent women in the United States Navy and other branches of the United States military.

"Moving to Ohio was a challenge I was ready to face," said Hall. "I wanted to meet amazing, likeminded and talented women and then I wanted to show the Navy and the world that women are still just that, women."

Competing in MISS OHIO USA was a first for the Naval Academy graduate but credits part of her inspiration for competing came from an Army reserve officer Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016.

"When I saw her listed in a magazine as one of the "50 most influential women" this year and she was photographed in uniform. I thought wow, what an amazing message that sends to women all over," she said. "There's never been anyone in the Navy who has won before or even competed, I really thought I could do this, not for me, but for the Navy."

Once she made the decision to compete, Hall received approval from Navy officials and MISS OHIO USA pageant officials to compete.

The two day event didn't end with Hall walking away with the MISS OHIO USA title, but she did walk away with two things.

"Because I was seen as the one who encouraged and empowered the other women that were competing, I won the title of Miss Congeniality," said Hall. "I also walked away a sense of security."

From preparation to the competition stage, this young woman knew the competition wasn't just about her or her security. She believed that competing could help eliminate some of the stereotypes that surround women who serve. She also understood how important this was as she filled her role in building relationships, connecting with prospective future sailors and prospective collegiates and educating them on opportunities on what the Navy has to offer.

"What many people don't realize, though, is that many of our prospects also want to know that there's a place for them in the Navy, that there are others like them who they can connect to," said Hall. "I think females often feel like the Navy isn't right for them because they're "too girly" and they like their civilian clothes, heels, and femininity too much to "give up" and join the military. Hopefully my involvement in the pageant proves that you don't have to give anything up."

Hall's ultimate goal is to remind women who are on the fence about serving, that there's a place for all types of backgrounds, ethnicity, looks, and even the most feminine of women in the Navy. The diversity of people and backgrounds is what makes us so great.

When asked would she do it again with a smile she responded, "Life takes you in crazy directions, but hopefully life will allow me to compete. I never want to stop pushing myself and I never want to stop inspiring others to do the same."


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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)