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Miss Florida encourages Williston girls to reach high for scholarships

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By The Staff

She hadn’t participated in any type pageant until she was 20 years old, but when she heard the prizes included scholarships for college, Rachael Todd jumped feet first onto the runway.

Two and a half years later, not only does she have scholarship money, she is the reigning Miss Florida.

Saturday, Todd, 22, visited the Williston School of Dance to speak to the students about her reign and demonstrate the talent she exhibited in the Miss America pageant in February of this year.

Todd told the dance students that the first year she entered a pageant, she came in first place.

So, she entered again, thinking that the only thing left was the crown.

She was wrong. That year she placed second.

Undaunted, she entered one more time and this time became Miss Suncoast and later captured the state crown.

With rich red hair and creamy skin, Todd told the girls that life in elementary school was horrific–she was the girl everyone laughed at and called ugly. She beseeched them to not make fun of redheads because it’s emotionally painful, especially when girls are younger.

An Ovideo native, Todd is a 2009 graduate of the University of Central Florida where she earned a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communication–a field she describes as discovering and cultivating the potential that people have within them.

After her term as Miss Florida ends, Todd will return to school and work on a master’s degree in business administration. She said she had no performing aspirations, and can’t imagine doing anything except working in a non-profit environment.

Her platform as Miss Florida calls for an end to homelessness, and it is her passion.

“About 52 percent of those who are homeless,” she told the girls, “are families with children.”

She urged the girls to consider pageants and explained you don’t have to win the big prize to earn scholarship money.

She also told them that wearing the Miss Florida crown is like a microphone: when she talks about her platform now, people listen.

Todd’s talent is Irish step dancing and Saturday, she spent several hours with students of Sarah Ingley.

Warming up and stretching are essential she said, leading the dancers through the paces both at the barre and in front of the mirror.

It was seeing “Riverdance” when she was nine years old that prompted her to take up the dance and she’s been hooked ever since.

And that red hair and creamy skin are not coincidental. Her mother, also a stunning woman, confessed they have Irish blood running through their veins. Take that, beauty, brains and talent and what do you have? Miss Florida. Rachael Todd.