Shannon Patilla, the reigning Miss Colorado, captivated the students at Highline Community Elementary during a visit on May 17. She held their attention, not because she is beautiful or wore a banner proclaiming her a beauty queen, but rather because of who she is and what she’s overcome.
Patilla met first with members of the Highline Student Council, who asked some frank and forthright questions about whether she has ever experienced discrimination or felt disadvantaged because she is an African American woman.
Patilla, who is a Denver native, told the students she never let anything hold her back, not her race, or her gender or the fact that her father died in a tragic accident when she was a child, leaving her mother to raise her as a single parent.
During an assembly with the entire student body, Patilla talked about perseverance. She explained that she entered the Miss Colorado Scholarship Pageant four times before she finally won the title. The scholarships she won are helping her earn a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Health & Exercise Science from Colorado State University. Patilla emphasized the importance of education and encouraged the students to always follow their dreams and never give up.
"She was really authentic with our students,” said Felice Beaulieu, a special education teacher at Highline. “She shared her struggles and explained why she never gave up. She was genuine, articulate and really connected with our kids.”