She talks with a stutter. Hardly what you’d expect from the 2012 Miss BC winner. But Hannah Seaman has learned a thing or two about overcoming her speech impairment.
“I have been stuttering for about 15 years of my life,” she said. “I started in Grade 3.”
Seaman took on 45 other women from around the province in the Miss BC, Miss BC Teen, and Mrs. BC pageants – which reached their crowing peak Monday at the Chief Sepass Theatre in Fort Langley. It was Seaman who wore that crown.
“It feels amazing. Like words can’t describe how I feel right now,” said the 21-year-old. “Before going on stage, I told myself, no matter what happens, it’s great just to be a part of it.”
Pageant organizer, creator, and producer, Darren Storsley noted, “Historically, Langley has done very well [in the Miss BC pageant]. Langley has done better than any community in this competition.”
Among this year’s contestants were single moms and a young woman in a wheelchair. Married women were also invited to enter and there is no long list of rules, no maximum age, height or weight requirements as Storsley sees the pageants as a development program for young women.
“I see no reason why marriage should end someone’s pageant opportunities,” he said.
Seaman, a life-long Langley resident sees this as her chance to help others who may feel like they don’t fit in.
“I know how alone I used to feel and no one deserves to feel unworthy or like an outcast because of something they can’t control,” she noted.
Having done three other pageants before, and taking first runner-up in the Top Teen of Canada competition, Seaman is no stranger to the stage.
Perhaps a speech impairment would make some nervous when presenting in front of others, but not Seaman.
The judges agreed.
“There’s the interview. You have a private interview with judges, plus there’s an on stage interview. There used to be a speech competition, but there isn’t now,” she said. “I was disappointed to find that out,” commented the Langley Fine Arts graduate.
Seaman was a drama major and is open to challenging her speech skills. In fact, she did a monologue for her talent portion of the competition.
“We’re just thrilled [that Seaman won],” Brenda Hittrich, litigation consultant with Seaman’s sponsor, Hittrich Zukerman Family Law said, “I like the fact that she was prepared to stand up and speak even though she stutters. Most people won’t even public speak, let alone when they stutter.”
Jack Hittrich, noted, “In high school, Hannah was turned down for a speaking part in drama class. Ironically, she was on the very same stage three years later being crowned as Miss BC.”
Another Langley-based Miss BC, Tara Teng, winner in 2010, went on to make a difference in the world. She used her title to create awareness around the issue of human trafficking.
Teng met with the prime minister to discuss Canada’s role in this and has since travelled the world making presentations to different government agencies and has set up awareness events.
Seaman hopes to make a difference too, “I have found ways to build my confidence up so I can help other people do the same.”
While stuttering may not seem like a disability, Seaman noted that it is classified as such.
“I just proved to myself what I can do, even with a disability,” she added.
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Seaman will be writing an article about her experiences in the Miss BC competition for the BC Association of People who Stutter.
“I am proud of the road this pageant has travelled and the paths it has crossed. In the end, it is about giving back, reaching out, creating leaders, and providing a venue for women to take leadership roles across
B.C.,” Storsley said.
“It was great. It was wonderful,” he said of the evening of the crowning. “There was so much participation from so many wonderful people. We raised almost $40,000 for Cops for Cancer.”
“The only outcome of a project like this is positive. There can be no other outcome,” he summarized.