By George Slaughter
Beauty pageant contestants sometimes daydream of winning the pageant and wearing the tiara.
But as a practical matter, the question of what happens after winning the pageant becomes a more complicated. Just what will do you do if you win?
Shannon Dresser can relate. She is the Katy Independent School District police officer who won the Miss Texas United States pageant in May, and competed in the recent Miss United States pageant earlier this month in Orlando, Florida. She was asked that question during the interview portion of the pageant.
“My chief asked me that same question,” Dresser said. “I said, ‘I’ll let you know Saturday (when the pageant takes place).’”
As it is, Dresser did herself proud. She finished as first runner-up at the pageant.
“I did extremely well,” she said. “I had a wonderful time. I went in with the idea to have fun and leave it all on the stage, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Miss Florida United States, Rachael Todd, won the pageant.
“Bittersweet as it is, I’m able to come back and go back to work and serve my community,” Dresser said. “It’s what I needed for my life and career. I would have loved to have won, but I also understand that things happen for reason. I’m just as proud as if I had won.”
The pageant structure in the Miss Texas United States and the Miss United States pageants have a similar structure in that contestants compete in four categories: evening gown, interview, onstage questions and swimsuit.
Dresser said the state judges look at candidates and consider who would be the best representative of that state.
Gaspar Cruz designed the evening gown and helped Dresser with her hair and makeup. He also did these things when Dresser competed in the state pageant.
“When he drew the gown, I could imagine myself in it,” Dresser said. “Not only did I look beautiful, I felt beautiful. You feel fabulous and you feel proud of how you’re performing.”
Dresser has competed in other pageants, and she hopes to participate in other pageants. She said that many contestants in the Miss United States pageant were in their early 20s. Dresser turns 30 next week, and some of her fellow contestants wondered how she looked so good given her age.
“I asked them, ‘What does 30 look like?’” she said.
As an officer, Dresser participates in the Teen and Police Service Academy (TAPS), an international mentoring program that closes the gap between at-risk students and police officers. Students get an elective credit for their participation in this 13-week program, though the mentoring has greater value. Topics covered include bullying, conflict management, and avoiding drug use and gangs, among others.
She is also a K-9 officer, where she works with a Golden Labrador Retriever.
While Dresser may have been the contestant, a lot of people stepped forward with their encouragement and support to make it all happen. She said she was grateful for the community’s support.
“That’s what made this journey so memorable,” she said. “It’s not about me, but the family and the community, and that’s been fabulous. It’s been a marvelous adventure. It’s just so overwhelming, it’s a joy.”