Photo of Chelsey Ray

Chelsey Ray '13: Beauty Queen, Singer, McK Graduate

By Nick Watt '13

“Surprisingly, there wasn’t a butterfly in my stomach the day I sang, even though I was about to sing in front of 46,000 people.” Chelsey Ray ‘13 is not your everyday student. Chelsey’s time at McKendree University has been a balancing act from the beginning. It was only recently that Chelsey gave up her title as Miss Midwest Illinois, a position she was incredibly passionate about and a role that she sees as being important for the community. “Not only does this program benefit a young woman’s educational aspirations but also the numerous people across the nation who are touched and supported by the efforts of each title holder. This organization focuses on the significance of being well-rounded and valuing education and your community, two ideals that obtain importance to me.”

Chelsey admits however, that keeping up with her duties as Miss Midwest Illinois and her studies were never a problem. “I am very meticulous about keeping myself organized and I have a great sense of how to prioritize things I have going on. Being Miss Midwest Illinois was one of my biggest personal accomplishments, and I felt it was my duty to not only live up to the title I worked so hard for, but to be a great role model and represent my community well by staying focused on furthering my education.”

With this level of determination and organization it is no wonder Chelsey found the perfect fit as an organizational communications major. “I have finally found a field I am passionate about and can apply myself to, without any hesitation. I look forward to every class I go to and have been able to maintain that attitude, as I have been able to dig deeper into my communication studies.” This desire to dig deeper into her major has yielded with it great success. Chelsey was recently inducted into the Lambda Phi Eta Honor Society and was the recipient of the ‘Outstanding Organizational Communication Department Award’ at the 2013 McKendree Honor’s Day.

Chelsey’s list of talents grows longer. In June 2012, Chelsey competed for the Miss Illinois title in which she won both Preliminary Talent Winner and the Carolyn Paulus Award Recipient (highest overall talent score) for singing. She was also a Top 10 finalist. “This title meant a lot in regards to my main purpose behind competing - my Mom. In April of 2011, she was diagnosed with Melanoma. In the Miss America Organization every titleholder is required to have a platform they become a spokesperson and raise money for. I was so passionate about finding a way to get the word out about skin cancer so I adopted the platform of Seek the Shade - Skin Cancer Awareness and Prevention.”

It is reasons like these that show how truly important these competitions are in championing great causes. The young woman who assume these titles are symbols for the community that individuals can raise themselves up and stand for something greater.

Chelsey is using her talent to the fullest potential in trying to help people, which is exactly what they are for. Singing however, was not always a part of life for Chelsey and it was not until high school that it truly became a part of her. “Many kids that are successful in the music field grow up on stage or in front of the microphone, but that wasn’t the case for me. I began choir in middle school and to this day, I can remember the first time I ever sang in front of other people. From then on, I developed a passion for it.” It was not until 16 and she auditioned for American Idol that she finally fulfilled one of her greatest aspirations. Chelsey auditioned for the show four more times and also twice for The Voice. However, her biggest opportunity came when she sang the national anthem at Busch Stadium. “Having the opportunity to sing the national anthem at a Cardinals game was a dream come true.”

Chelsey graduates in May of 2013 and has accepted an account executive position at Clearwave Communications. She is heavily vocal in support of the Miss America Organization and her passion for singing is fiery as ever, “Every opportunity is a blessing for me. Give me an audience of 1 or 100,000 and I’ll have the time of my life!”

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