I’d like you to meet my friend, Chinh.
Chinh is one of our lead reporters here at KETV. She is tenacious, driven, she runs at 100% non-stop to use every waking moment to her advantage. She is also bubbly, kind, and one of the most caring people I have ever met. A few days before Mother’s Day, Chinh gave me M&M’s (have I mentioned how much I love treats!?!?) and a card with the sweetest message EVER. No matter what terrible story she’s covered that day or what she’s facing, she is always upbeat and POSITIVE. That’s terrific; factor in Chinh’s childhood and it’s hands down INSPIRING.
Chinh Doan’s father fought for the South Vietnamese Army during the war. So did her mother’s first husband. Both faced persecution by North Vietnames soldiers once the war ended, ripping their marriages and families apart. They survived poverty, POW camps, oppression, and hoped to start over when they found each other. They married, and Chinh was born on Christmas Day 1989. Chinh treasures early memories like riding on the front of her father’s bicycle in urban Vietnam as a toddler, but life was hard, very hard. When the United States offered an opportunity for POW’s like Chinh’s father to move, the family was thrilled, until they learned only Chinh and her father would be allowed to move. Once again, a family was torn apart, this time, so their little girl would have a chance at the American Dream.
Chinh’s father found a job as a janitor at an Oklahoma City newspaper; Chinh poured over every article her father brought home, and learned English by watching local news every night. 17 years later, just 6 days before she received her journalism degree as “Outstanding Senior” from the University of Oklahoma, Chinh’s mom moved to the United States.
Chinh and Tu are two of the happiest, most grateful people I have ever met. They emit sheer joy.. and after every event in their presence, you leave feeling more optimistic about.. well, EVERYTHING! PROOF of the power of positivity. Or as teenager Emma Young likes to call it, ‘Positivity In The Face Of Negativity.”
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
“I was born with a condition called Strabismus, which is where the eyes cross,” Emma told me recently. “I have had issues off and on with being bullied for years. I had also had close firends who have gone through depression and at times, have contemplated suicide. My platform encourages being kind to everyone, because you never know what people are really going through.”
Emma, a North Platte, Nebraska native, had two constants in her life as a young child.. eye surgeries to fix her condition, and the Miss Nebraska Pageant, which Emma’s family has been involved for years.
“I had the opportunity to be in the Little Sisters program,” said Emma, shown above in the 2009 pageant with her Big Sister, titleholder Jessica Brock. “I think I was hooked then! I love being on stage, and the whole week was glamorous and exciting!”
But at a very early age, Emma also recognized the responsibilities of a crown and sash off stage, through volunteering and service to others.
When she became Miss Platte River’s Outstanding Teen 2016, Emma completely devoted herself to community.
“I was able to help girls select prom dresses and formals through a Lincoln County Child Abuse Prevention Council event, Dresses for a Cause. In turn, I was invited to serve on their Youth Council Board,” said Emma. “Also, through this organization, I met a great 5th grade boy who is alsot trying to spread kindness by purchasing Buddy Benches for schools in our community. I have been able to speak to civic groups for him, to help him raise money to purchase them. This is an ongoing project!”
Emma also delivered meals on Christmas Day, and volunteered for a recent fundraiser for her school district. She’s a certified Kiwanis Key Leader, and now serves on the Junior Ambassador Leadership Committee, helping to choose future youth volunteers and projects for the group. She’s a frequent visitor to schools to talk about positivity in both words and action.
“Something fun I have been able to do is crete ‘Kindness Jars’ and have students make these when I speak to them,” said Emma. “Each jar is decorated by the student and inside they put actions they can do to show kindness to others. Then later, they can pull an act of kindness from their jar and do it!”
One of Emma’s favorite places to volunteer is her local hospital, where she’s been giving back ever since those surgeries as a small child.
“I am a Junior Volunteer at Great Plains Health (our local hospital), 5 hours each week in the Emergency Room,” I love being able to help people feel more comfortable about being in a stressful situation. I have always watned to be a doctor. When I was 3 years old, I asked my parents for a toy crash cart for Christmas! Being a volunteer at the hospital has allowed me to experience many aspects of the medical field. The only way I will miss going to the hospital to volunteer is if I am sick!”
All of that time volunteering comes in addition to school and North Platte High activities, including National Honor Society (Emma’s the Publicity Chairman), Key Club (she’s Editor), Speech and Debate, Orchestra, Concert Choir and Drama. Emma also spends several hours a week dancing, taking lessons since the age of 7.
A true testament that Emma is living what she preaches come in her own answer, when asked WHY she does all this??
“Competing in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant has given me the opportunity to make connections that I may not have had, if I had not been competing,” said Emma. “In setting up appearances and speaking about my platform, I had had to contact promiment leaders in my community. Every one of them has been gracious and kind. I have also made some great friends in the other contestants. We encourage each other to be the best we can be. I think competing has also taught me to be resilient and to never give up. I am so grateful that I have this opportunity and have chosen to follow this path. It is not easy, but the rewards, both big and small, are worth every ounce of effort I have put into it.”
How often do we hear from people who feel entitled to what they believe BELONGS to them? Things they think they should just HAVE, that it’s their RIGHT? And how often do we witness, in others and in ourselves, instant and toxic negativity when we don’t get what we feel should just happen?
Not from Chinh. No entitlement. No complaining. Never even a frown or a negative word. In addition to her full-time career at KETV, Chinh is also a CONSTANT presence in the Omaha area, a member of Junior League and the Omaha Press Club, even recognized as one of 10 Outstanding Young Omahans in 2015.
They are separated by age, distance and backgrounds, but much of the same holds true for Emma. No talk of what she deserves, no complaining about the hand life dealt her. Just hard work, a focus on others, and a CONSTANT smile. To people like Emma and Chinh it’s a no brainer–the glass is ALWAYS half full. And Emma Young is ready to take that optimistic attitude and message across the state as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.
“The Nebraska Tourism Board has a new slogan, Nebraska Nice,” said Emma. “I feel that should describe every Miss Nebraska contestant, Miss or Teen. I know there were, and still are, many times I wished that someone would say something nice to me, just to make me feel better. I try to be that person now, because I know how much it means.”
CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Platte River’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Emma Young
For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Director Kali Tripp at email@example.com.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!