Paniagua recognized with Governor’s Volunteer Service Award

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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Mia Paniagua, of Belhaven, was recognized with the North Carolina Governor’s Volunteer Service Award at the Beaufort County Commissioners meeting on June 3. This prestigious award honors individuals who make significant contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

 “It was very emotional for me to know that someone else is recognizing all the hard work and volunteerism that I have put into my state,” said Paniagua. “It really showed this is what I am meant to do, and I can continue to do it.”

Her volunteer efforts have included initiatives like the blessing box at her family’s country store, regular contributions to local food drives and support for nonprofits such as Daughters of Worth in Greenville.

 Paniagua, who was crowned Miss North Carolina High School America 2024 earlier this year, has been diligently preparing to represent North Carolina on the national stage at the Miss High School America Pageant in Little Rock, Arkansas, from June 29 to July 5. Her preparations have been multifaceted, focusing on her platform, Certified Bestie, which aims to mentor youth across the state and beyond.

“Certified Bestie is a mentorship program that I launched to provide support and friendship to young people,” explained Paniagua. “We currently have mentors in 14 states, and my goal is to see it spread nationwide. Everyone deserves a best friend, and this program helps make that a reality.”

 In addition to her volunteer work and mentoring, Paniagua has been intensely preparing for the pageant, which includes rigorous training and personal development.

“I’ve put endless hours into mock interview preparation, walking lessons and building a strong mental mindset,” shared Paniagua. “This has been my dream, and I’m going into nationals very intentional and present, just having the best time.”

 Despite the rigorous preparation, Paniagua acknowledges the challenges she has faced.

 “Balancing everything has been tough, especially with school and social commitments,” said Paniagua. “But I’ve grown stronger mentally and learned to stay focused and resilient.”

 Looking ahead to the national competition, Paniagua looks forward to various aspects, particularly the parade and interview segments. The parade, reminiscent of the Belhaven parade, allows her to connect with the community and celebrate with peers. The interview segment offers an opportunity to showcase her personality and articulate her goals as a potential national titleholder.

 “I want to make new friends and connections, and even if I don’t win, I hope to grow and help others,” emphasized Paniagua. “I need to be strong and stay positive, knowing that everything happens for a reason.”

 Beyond the pageant, Paniagua and her mother will direct the Miss Independence Pageant in Belhaven on June 15. Additionally, a send-off party for Paniagua will be scheduled for the end of the month, with details available on her social media platforms. The Miss High School America Pageant on July 5 can be viewed live online, allowing supporters from North Carolina and beyond to follow Paniagua’s journey.

 For those interested in keeping up with Paniagua’s journey, follow her on Instagram @missnchighschoolamerica or connect with her on Facebook as Mia Nicole.