Before she was Miss Alaska’s Outstanding Teen 2016, Danielle Stam was a little girl growing up in Mountain View — then a Spanish immersion student, a dancer, a volunteer at the neighborhood Boys & Girls Club, a high school athlete, an honor student and a JROTC cadet.
Viana Stam wanted her daughter’s childhood to be very different from her own.
She never had the chance to be a pageant princess, but when her daughter decided to compete, she tried her best to support her every step of the way.
With her mother’s help, Danielle practiced her interview skills and polished her flamenco dancing technique. She wrote essays and resumes and completed community service work. And she won: first, the local crown, then the statewide title of Miss Alaska’s Outstanding Teen earlier this summer. In August, she plans to travel to Orlando, Florida, to represent Alaska in the national competition.
Her family will travel with her.
“I think the reason I am so invested is because I didn’t have a mom growing up,” said Viana Stam, sitting in a sunny room at the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club one summer evening. She described a childhood spent in hard New York neighborhoods and in and out of foster care; a grandmother in Puerto Rico and a father who wasn’t always around.
“I decided that whenever I had kids, I would try to give them any opportunity,” she said. “I feel like I kind of didn’t have a teenage life, I didn’t have a childhood, so in a way I kind of have a childhood with them.”
Her daughter sits beside her, wearing high heels and a sash and a sparkling crown.
“I try to be there the best that I can,” Viana Stam said. “And I want her to have a good future.”
Danielle says she already has plans for the future. She’ll take part in West High School’s International Baccalaureate program. She’ll continue to volunteer at the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club. And after high school, she hopes to go to college — the scholarships available through the Miss Alaska program could help send her there.
She thinks about studying clinical psychology; maybe pursuing a career with the FBI. She’s always been good at listening, she says. Just like her mom.
“I guess I got her gift,” Danielle said.