By Jen Russon
A Coral Springs resident and graduate of J.P. Taravella High School has been chosen to represent her hometown in a competition that may eventually lead to being crowned Miss USA.
Matea Smith will compete with young women from across the state for the 2021 title of Miss Florida Teen USA in April.
Smith graduated in 2020 at the top of her class, with an impressive resume.
The captain of both the track and swim team at her school also served as president of HOSA, a health occupation club at J.P. Taravella.
Smith said she planned to study pre-med in college, but following a sports injury and the pandemic, she decided to take a gap year.
The Coral Springs teen, who grew up in the Pine Ridge community with her parents, Marilou and Seitu Smith, did not rest on her laurels for long.
Smith volunteers online for the United Nations, where she helps outline buildings and roads on maps of rural Tanzania, to prevent young girls from female genital mutilation.
Her volunteerism also includes Translators Without Borders, where Smith said she could indulge a love of learning about different cultures and countries.
Having made multiple trips to Jamaica and the Philippines, and eight other countries, she hopes to see Greece next.
Though a world traveler, it’s sports medicine that particularly interests Smith, who believes the Miss Florida Teen competition is a good platform for raising awareness.
“I want to promote support and bring awareness to the mental toll that injuries have on young athletes,” said Smith.
This may be among Smith’s responses when she competes for the Miss Florida Teen USA sash and crown.
“Honestly, this whole journey started as a conversation between my mom and I about how I’ve never been in a pageant,” said Smith.
If crowned, she wins $100,000 in gifts, cash, and scholarships, as well as sponsorship to the Miss USA competition.
“I’m so excited to be representing Coral Springs, my hometown, and the place I lived my whole life. Then the butterflies set in because I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Smith.
The next Miss Florida Teen competition will be held in the spring of 2021 in the new host city of Coral Springs. Details on the venue and exact date are still pending.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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