Growing up, 2014 Miss Fresno County winner Denise Barnes was always asked to define herself in three words.
For her talent in the 64th Annual Miss Fresno County and Miss Fresno’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant at the Tower Theatre in Fresno, she performed an original monologue called “This Is My Talent” to say that she cannot describe herself with just three words.
“I have come to the conclusion that that is nearly impossible, because when God created me from the dust of the earth and blew life into my lungs he also blew words,” Denise said on stage to the five pageant judges.
“Words that turned into stanzas, he blew phrases, phrases that turned into poetic prose. He created the iambic pentameter of my every thought, and 21 years later, from the crown of my head to the soul of my feet, writing is what makes my heart beat.”
Barnes, a sophomore majoring in political science, will represent Fresno County in the Miss California pageant June 22-28 at the Saroyan Theatre.
“It’s a blessing and an absolute honor to represent our city,” Barnes said. “I take it as a privilege and an honor to be able to hold this title.”
She is involved with more than preparations for the Miss California pageant.
Barnes is in the Air Force reserves and is a member of the first Fresno State Mock Trial team to qualify for the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament.
She aspires to be a commissioned officer and plans to have a career in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
“I’m definitely passionate about the military and serving my country because that is part of who I am,” Barnes said. “I consider myself privileged to be a part of the one percent of Americans who serve our country.”
Her pageant platform is “S.O.S.” which stands for Support Our Soldiers.
She partnered with some of her fellow Air Force members and with her fraternity, Omega Delta Sigma, National Veterans Fraternity Inc.
The fraternity plans to get the community involved with supporting veterans by having monthly meetings to make care packages or write letters to show the community is supporting them.
“I just want to be really involved in the community,” Barnes said. “I want everybody to know what my platform is, what I’m working toward and make myself useful to the community.”
She began competing in pageants during high school as a way to help save scholarship money for college.
Marie Theurich, executive director of the Miss Fresno and Miss Fresno Outstanding Teen Pageant, said Barnes’ “verbal skills” made her stand out.
Barnes thought her military affiliation helped separate her from other contestants.
Sgt. Michael Willett, Barnes’ supervisor, said she is a “great” representative of the United States Air Force.
“She is a great troop, very reliable and takes great pride in serving her country,” Willett said.
Barnes hopes to inspire others to pursue their passion.
“What I’m trying to prove is that you can follow your dreams, do what you want to do, and there are no limitations to what you can do,” Barnes said.
“I have that driven mindset where I can serve my country, be a student, be in pageants and be in mock trial — that I can be in all these things and be a dynamic person.”