When 24-year-old medical student Stephanie Williams competed in the Miss D.C. beauty pageant last June, she eagerly swapped scrubs for a ball gown. But now, to follow through with her platform, she is donning a medical uniform once again.
Though her platform is officially called “A Dose of Prevention: Smart Medicine for What Ails America,” health care became important to Williams after she traveled to India in the summer of 2009. On her trip, she witnessed disease-stricken people whose government had no funds to treat them. The sight propelled Williams to push preventative health measures in the U.S.
“India and other countries in this world don’t have the resources for preventative medicine, but in the U.S. we have all this money that can be allocated in a more useful way,” she said. “It’s not tangible, you can’t see preventative medicine, but according to the American Medical Association, for every dollar you spend [towards preventative health care] you get two to five dollars returned in a three- to five-year period.”
Williams is partnering with the GW Hospital this fall to turn her platform into a reality. Appearing at free prostate cancer screenings and signing autographs, she hopes to encourage public proactiveness.
“I think that choosing a platform that you are really interested in is important,” Williams explained.
Hospital representatives also hope that her presence at the events will draw more participants.
“It may be curiosity, or frankly Stephanie’s outward beauty, that initially grabs someone’s attention at these events, but upon talking to her they’ll quickly learn that she is a true health advocate,” said Heather Oldham, communications manager for GW Hospital.
As for balancing her time between advancing her platform and preparing for the upcoming Miss America competition, Williams said it is simply part of what being a state titleholder entails.
“I just hope to go [to the competition] and do the best that I can. I think that I have exactly what they are looking for in a Miss America,” she said. “The very first Miss America was a Miss D.C. and this is the ninetieth Miss America pageant – I think for the ninetieth I would be a good choice.”