It took seven years and 11 tries in two different states for Dr. Debbye Turner Bell to win the title of Miss America in 1990. Throughout those years she was told she wasn't pretty enough, wasn't tall enough, she wasn't blonde and she didn't sing or twirl a fire baton.
But she wasn't going to give up. The self described "science geek" wanted to be a veterinarian and joined the pageant program for scholarship money to pay for her education. Her persistence and determination paid off.
She became a veterinarian and also worked as a television anchor and reporter. She got married and is the mother to an eight-year-old girl.
Debbye says "I'm very intentional about building her confidence. Telling her she is beautiful but it's equally important to me that she knows she's intelligent and that she's resourceful and innovative and creative because these are the things that make up success in life. Beauty fades and beauty is a matter of opinion, but it is important to me that she knows she is a strong, capable woman."
Her message to young girls: "It's fine to have the crown, but what's more important is to do the work. To stick to it and to know who you are, why you were placed on this earth and don't give up until you get it."
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.