Venice teen crowned Teen Universe in international pageant
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A Venice teenager is making the Suncoast proud with a major achievement. Morgan Claycomb, 17, has been crowned Teen Universe 2022 after competing in the international pageant in Nicaragua.
Claycomb competed against girls from 29 other countries, earning the affection of the audience. As she was crowned, the roaring crowd chanted “USA” “USA.”
“It was really shocking,” she said, looking back on the big moment.
Claycomb explained how she’s been in the pageant world for almost as long as she’s been alive. Her first show was at only 6 months old in a Port Charlotte mall.
Looking back, the young pageant queen says it’s unbelievable seeing how far she’s come over the years.
“Who would have thought that me, growing up in Venice, Florida, doing my pageant in a Port Charlotte mall would snowball and turn into this?” she mused.
Since her early days, Claycomb has competed in more than 100 pageants, showcasing talents in public speaking along with singing and dancing.
Now that she’s made it to the international stage, she’s using those skills to affect positive change.
In the final Teen Universe show, she used part of her speaking time on stage to advocate for mental health awareness. Her speech referenced recent suicides within the pageant community and encouraged the world to let go of stigmas surrounding mental health so struggling people can get the help they need.
“I really have been trying to spread the message that it’s OK to not be OK,” Claycomb said. “That you are enough just the way you are.”
Her message was well received at the show, and it’s resonating even beyond the stage.
Claycomb scrolled through her Instagram direct messages showing just how far her words have carried. Hundreds of messages in her inbox are thanking her for taking time to speak about mental health issues.
She read one of them aloud, which says in part, “Your speech moved me a lot because suicide is very common now and I was almost a victim of it,” Claycomb read. “Your speech at the end filled me with so many tears in my eyes and I know that you will be a great queen as a woman.”
With the crown on her head, Claycomb wants to keep this momentum going by using her platform to inspire and to educate.
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