May 14, 2014 - Could there be a crown in Emily Kalohn's future? The 18-year-old Oxford resident sure hopes so.
Emily Kalohn poses. Photo by Dan Lippitt. (click for larger version)
Kalohn is preparing to compete in the Miss Michigan Teen USA pageant to be held in Port Huron Sept. 26-27.
"I'm very excited to share my interests and spread my love for other people," said Kalohn, who takes on-line classes through Brandon High School and will graduate next month.
Right now, she's seeking sponsors to help cover pageant costs, which include hair and makeup artists along with wardrobe.
The pageant organization gave her $295, but she still needs more than $600 to compete. Any person, company or group that sponsors her will be mentioned in the pageant program.
"Anything is appreciated and welcome," Kalohn said.
Those interested in sponsorships can contact her at email@example.com.
She's hoping that competing in the pageant, and potentially winning it, will help advance her modeling career. Kalohn's been modeling for almost two years.
"I love modeling," Kalohn said. "It builds such good self-confidence."
She's posed for a number of professional photographers who use shots of her in their portfolios. She's appeared as an extra in a 5-hour Energy television commercial. And she's worked as a hair model for FIGO Salon in Birmingham.
"I'm just trying to get my name out there," Kalohn said.
She hopes to someday be a professional model doing print work. Her goal is to be a "smiling, happy" cover girl.
She would like to compete on the popular television show America's Next Top Model, "but I'm a little bit too short, I think."
Modeling has helped Kalohn improve her self-image and repair some of the emotional damage inflicted by her peers.
"I was bullied a lot in school," she said. "It was really tough for me. The acceptance level was really bad. I went through a lot."
Kalohn was the target of some extreme bullying while she attended Oxford High School.
It included the repeated vandalization of her home, the spreading of false rumors and a physical assault. "It's just very sad," she said. "I was very scared."
The bullying affected her to the point where she had to leave school for a while and seek professional help.
"I was really upset," Kalohn said. "Things were spiraling out of control and there wasn't a way to fix it."
Ultimately, she ended up switching schools to get a fresh start.
Kalohn is unsure exactly why she was the target of such extreme bullying, but she has some ideas.
"I've always been a little bit different," she said. "I just kind of did my own thing and people thought it was odd."
"People are different and some people are not okay with that," Kalohn noted. "If you're not like everybody else, they're going to give you crap for it."
For instance, she's very much opposed to the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and she lets people know it.
"I don't like to be around it," Kalohn said. "Sometimes I preach too much, which I think makes people angry. I try not to (do that), but if you ask me a question, I'll tell you. It's just totally against my morals."
"My personal values and morals are pretty much everything (to me)," she added. "If you don't stand for something, then (who) are you?"
Rather than let her bullies define her, Kalohn decided to be proactive about controlling her self-esteem.
"I decided I couldn't live like that anymore and I needed to do something to make me feel more self-confident," she said.
Her mother suggested modeling.
At first, Kalohn was skeptical because she's "always been a big tomboy," who was never interested in makeup and hair styles.
"I was never the pretty girl in school," she said.
As a gift for her 16th birthday, she had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with a professional photographer.
"It changed my life forever," Kalohn said. "It was probably the most wonderful thing ever. I felt so good about myself. I just felt like I was worth something. I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
In addition to modeling, Kalohn also draws inspiration from the special needs students that she's worked with at school and befriended over the years. She can relate to some of the things they've been through in their lives.
"I love to work with special needs kids," she said. "I envy their self-confidence and how they carry themselves. I think we should all look up to them. No matter what happens, they're just so positive about everything that comes their way. I really want to be like that."
After she graduates high school, Kalohn is considering attending either Ferris State University or the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. She wants to study a field that would allow her to mentor youth.
"I want to talk to other kids who've been through the same thing (I have) and tell them that there is hope," she said. "I just want to be a good mentor. That's the ultimate goal."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.