Grace Drummond has been in the spotlight ever since she was a little girl — first in gymnastics, then in cheerleading and now in pageantry. Grace — who won the Preteen Florida USA title in 2021 — is this year’s Miss Winter Garden Teen USA and is vying for the competition’s Miss Florida title.
She said she is hoping to win the crown and become the competition’s youngest title holder ever at age 14.
It was her pageant coach, Peter Morales, who suggested she compete for Miss Florida Teen USA. She said she was hesitant because she’s among the youngest contestants and doesn’t have as much experience as the older girls, but she went for it and is gearing up for the pageant in mid-May in Coral Springs.
She is looking forward to the opportunity for the judges to learn more about her in the interview portion of the competition. It’s also a chance for her to bond with the other teens in the competition because it creates a tight-knit sisterhood that is an important part of the process to her.
“The people I’ve competed with, we communicate every day,” she said. “If (I didn’t) have the bond with the people (I was) competing with, I would have never made it. I was a nervous wreck; … they encouraged me.”
She returns that encouragement to all the competitors, she said.
“I love encouraging people: ‘You’re stunning,’ ‘You’re show-stopping,’ ‘You can go out and do anything you want to do.’ If I bring them up, it brings me up as a person. If I can make one person happy, that’s enough for me.”
Grace hopes to expose a younger face to the competition.
“One thing I want to achieve in the Miss Teen Florida USA Pageant is to change the age stereotype of (the pageant) because as the years have gone on, it’s been 16 years and older,” Grace said. “If I were to get the opportunity to win and be granted the crown … it would prove that age doesn’t matter. Just because I’m 14 doesn’t mean I can’t win the crown.”
Her real platform, however, is to promote an organization she created called I Am a Citizen. Grace and her family are from the United Kingdom. They moved to Winter Garden when Grace was 3; she became a U.S. citizen in December.
“We provide a safe space for young teens and underage students to come to this space and talk about their journey of nationalization and not fitting in,” Grace said.
“One of the organization’s main goals is to propose a bill in which underage students are allowed to obtain their U.S. citizenship by achieving their academic goals or having really good goals, all A’s, good attendance, in case their parents … don’t speak English and can’t pass the test,” she said. “It’s hard for the students to get their U.S. citizenship if their parents can’t speak or read English.”
FROM TOMBOY TO PRINCESS
Grace fell in love with the pageant life when she attended a friend’s competition at the age of 11. Although she was too young to enter, Grace’s experience watching Alyssa Racquel Hill participate ultimately set her on her journey to the preteen competition.
In 2021, she earned the title of Miss Preteen Florida USA and advanced to the Miss Preteen USA competition.
“I was extremely nervous because it was my very first pageant … but I pulled it together and I went in and held my head high,” Grace said. “I went in there thinking I would (go) just for the experience. The last day, we worked hard throughout the week, practiced long days. … I went into the interview room, six judges were throwing me questions.
“I get out of the interview room with the biggest smile on my face; I thought I did so well,” she said.
She earned a spot in the top five and ultimately won the crown. She spent the next year attending photo shoots and making appearances.
“I went on this whole journey from tomboy to princess,” she said.
When Grace isn’t working on her pageantry passion, she is cheering as a side base for the J-Dub team at Top Gun Orlando in Ocoee. Her cheer team has competed all over the country and is getting ready for several competitions in the next few weeks.
She also does volunteer work at her church, The Center Arena, and at charity events through Nathaniel’s Hope and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Grace is a freshman taking honors and Advanced Placement classes at Windermere High School. She hopes to attend Harvard Medical School and become an anesthesiologist.
“I have tried everything under the sun with helping people,” Grace said. “If I can give my love to people who need it and want it, I feel like that would be a very good opportunity for me to be a doctor.”