Meet Dawnel DeRubeis The ORDINARY Pageant Girl Determined To Create EXTRAORDINARY Change
Though Mrs. California USA Universal is strikingly beautiful and graciously kind, not everything about Dawnel DeRubeis’ story is pretty. Despite her polished exterior, life has tested Dawnel much in the same way it does millions of other Americans. Some days are tougher than others, but her goals remain the same: to choose happiness and share it with her community through volunteer work and advocacy. And finally, as she prepares for a year of public service, all Dawnel’s dreams just might come true.
“My platform for this year is really my life’s passion,” she said. “Working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I’m advocating for teens who battle depression and suicide. I know the fight with depression well. I’ve battled it myself, and I’ve lost a family member to suicide. But if I can use the crown and sash to create some change, maybe they’ll see that I’m just a normal person.”
Dawnel’s start in the pageant world was born of normal ambitions, as well. After moving to the Santa Clarita Valley as a kid, she was looking for a way to make some new friends.
“Having no idea I would be crowned, I definitely accomplished that pretty quickly,” she recalled.
She first claimed a title in 1994 as Miss Teen Santa Clarita, and soon the crowns started stacking up. Miss North LA County Teen followed in 1997, and she won Miss SCV in 1998. After a break to focus on school, career and family, she secured the title of Mrs. SCV in 2010 and went on to be first runner up at Mrs. California Globe in 2014, Mrs. Hollywood in 2016 and, today, Mrs. California USA Universal for 2017.
Next up, Dawnel will take the national stage in Reno, Nevada for Mrs. USA Universal.
“I’m in a whole new caliber of women,” she said. “It’s a great sisterhood, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone.”
As titleholders, the women are encouraged to choose a platform and complete a certain amount of community service.
“I’ve always competed because giving back to the community is something I’ve always want to be a part of my life,” she said.
Her work with AFSP, the largest non-profit dedicated to suicide prevention, is her current focus, and much of it is centered on sharing her own story.
“I’ve now realized just how much the loss of a family member to suicide has impacted me,” she said. “And fighting to overcome my battle with depression, too.”
But she continues to grow all the time.
“I’ve found my tools and my triggers, and I focus on mentally bringing myself to a place where I’m happy and my life feels balanced,” she said.