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News Contact:
Cathy Summa-Wolfe
, Executive Director
Communications, Community Relations, and Advancement

College of Marin Alumna Wins Miss California, Heads to Miss America Pageant

Crystal Lee Nominated for Miss America STEM Scholarship

KENTFIELD, CA—September 5, 2013—Crystal Lee, a former College of Marin student and the daughter of a long-time staff member, has been crowned Miss California and is competing in the Miss America pageant on Sept. 15.

The 22-year-old former Miss Silicon Valley, a native of San Francisco, competed in July against 60 other young women to earn a $12,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the national crown. It was her third attempt at the state title.

“Third time’s a charm,” she says. “If you really want it bad enough you will try again.”

Pageant competitions have provided Lee, a Stanford University graduate, with more than $40,000 in scholarships.

“I have learned so much in three years, just competing,” she says. “It’s almost like training for a marathon. The crown gave me a reason to learn how to speak well, learn how to dress, how to present myself.”

Lee competed in five phases of competitioninterview, physical fitness in swimsuit, eveningwear, on-stage question and talent. She took top honors on preliminary competition nights for her evening gown presentation and her ballet en pointe performance of “The Dying Swan.”

Lee received special commendation in the California House of Representatives when Rep. Michael Honda passed a resolution honoring her achievement. “California is fortunate to have such a strong and successful young woman representing us,” he said.

As a child, Lee used to visit the College of Marin campus with her mother, Wendy Lee, a long-time information technology staff member. She later studied dance and took a statistics course at the college.

“In a lot of ways, College of Marin has had a great impact on my life,” Lee said.

STEM Platform
Each pageant contestant has a platform. Lee, who has a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and just finished a master’s degree in Communications and Media Studies from Stanford University, has chosen to encourage women in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM programs as her platform. Part of her inspiration is having watched her mother who was often the only woman in her field. The younger Lee says she also experienced a gender imbalance in Silicon Valley engineering and technology fields in classes and working at startups.

“We need to invigorate female leadership in all of these fields,” Lee says. “I want to inspire other girls to see that they can do it. They can be just as successful in math and engineering. My message is that options are available.” Lee hopes to earn a master’s degree in Business Administration and start her own company.

STEM Scholarship Nominee
In the preliminary events of Miss America pageant, held in Atlantic City, NJ this week, Lee was nominated along with four other contestants for the organization’s first ever STEM scholarship awards. The winners of two $5,000 scholarships will be announced prior to the final competition on Sept. 15 to be broadcast on ABC. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance to more than 12,000 contestants.

People's Choice Award
There is also a public voting component in the pageant in which interested supporters can go online and vote for their favorite contestant’s video before 8 p.m. on Sept. 12. Crystal Lee’s video can be found at

“If I become Miss America I will be the nationwide spokesperson for this program. If not, I will come back to California very happily.”

Lee noted that her mother was born in Taiwan and the Chinese characters of her mother’s name are those of beauty pageant recipients of both Miss Taiwan and Miss China in the year she was born. Her parents will be joining her in Atlantic City for the preliminary events next week.


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