Morgan Chavez had a rough start to life. After losing her mother — a corporal in the United States Army — at the age of 2 to suicide, she was placed into the foster care system where she was physically, mentally and sexually abused. Her grandparents were able to adopt her after a long three-year custody battle.
“After my grandparents adopted me, I ended up with a few issues surrounding mental health, and that’s what’s inspired me to focus on mental health in my adult life,” Chavez said. “I’ve worked for the Michigan Health Council and did some motivational speaking. I’ve pretty much just devoted my entire adult life to mental illness, specifically in veterans and service members.”
Chavez’s adversity didn’t prohibit her from a bright future. She was accepted to Michigan State University in 2010 as a first generation college student and majored in environmental studies and agriscience with an emphasis on science and policy. She is also Miss Bellevue and will be competing in the Miss Washington USA pageant in the fall.
“I do pageants because they give me the ability to amplify my voice in the community. One thing that I always tell people is that a crown is just an object, it’s what you do with the crown that truly matters,” she said.
She hopes by running for Miss Washington, she can change the conversation around mental health and also inspire young girls to achieve their goals despite difficulties.
“Pageantry is all about opportunity, and I really want the opportunity to change the conversation on mental health. [I] also want an opportunity to set a precedent after me, and above all an opportunity to show young women that they can do anything they set their minds to, like being Miss Bellevue and have bipolar disorder,” she said.
Chavez’s mental health blog, “Lift the Stigma,” can be found at https://liftthestigma.wordpress.com/author/boglem/.