By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Pageant winner finds title gives her a platform to help children

Ventura County Star

Tiffany Allen grew up surrounded by domestic violence and with parents addicted to drugs.

She thinks that gave her the strength to serve children in need while raising awareness of youth organizations through her role as a regional and state pageant winner.

"At a very young age I was required to take on a tremendous amount of adultlike responsibility," said Allen, 26. "A majority of my early memories were of things like drug raids, homelessness, unthinkable living conditions, molestation ... and oftentimes wondering where my next meal was going to come from."

In March, Allen was crowned Miss Ventura County International 2013 by Crowning Glory Productions. The contest is an official preliminary for the international pageant system and covers Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Most recently, Allen was named Miss California International 2013 by Crowning Glory.

"My journey through pageantry represents healing from a trauma that I experienced, and speaking about my platform, the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, has become a source of healing for me," said Allen, of Santa Barbara, who has been a volunteer mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters for about three years.

"Looking back, I truly believe that pageantry was placed in my life for a much greater reason than I initially understood," Allen said. "It has allowed me the opportunity to share the story of my adverse childhood and inspire youth facing similar situations that your past doesn't have define your future."

Instead of using her childhood as a crutch, "I used it as a learning tool to make certain that I didn't make the same mistakes that my parents did," Allen said. "Pageantry has helped me though my struggle and has helped me to find purpose in my journey."

As Miss Ventura County and now as Miss California, "Tiffany will be able to use this platform to speak to others in the community about the value mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters produces in changing the lives of children, for the better, forever," said Pedro Chavez, director of education and public affairs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County.

As a Big Sister, Allen has spent many hours mentoring her little sister, Chavez said. "Tiffany is helping guide a child facing adversity by mentoring them to build greater self-confidence and self-esteem. These essential character-building elements are crucial to improving academic performance and overall outlook in life."

Allen shows that no matter what your past experiences growing up were like, "You always have a personal choice as to whether you let those experiences take you down or lift you up," Chavez said.

Allen is one course away from graduating from Santa Barbara City College with a liberal arts degree with a focus on behavioral science. She also works as an emergency dispatcher with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Allen entered her first pageant, Miss Bakersfield, during her senior year of high school with the hopes of winning a scholarship to help fund her college.

"While I didn't walk away with the crown that year, I did walk away with lifelong friends, a greater self-esteem and the desire to continue pushing myself to reach my potential," she said.

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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