My name is Celi Marie Dean (see-lee), and I know without a doubt I was born to make a difference. In May of 1985 I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At birth I was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called sepsis. Without a blood transfusion I would have died. My desire to live and persevere was present even then at such a young age. I am the namesake of my grandmother from my father�s side who is originally from Liberia (West Africa). At the age of 7, I experienced my first emotional challenge when my mother and father divorced. With every obstacle there is always a rainbow at the end of the road. During that period of my life, we moved around a lot, changed schools several times, yet at age 8 I went on to win my first pageant (1993 Miss Minnesota Princess). It was then that I met the 1993 Miss Black Minnesota USA and knew I wanted to be the future Miss Black Minnesota USA. My life has not been the same since.
I continued doing pageants over the years and have been blessed to win other titles such as the 1996 Miss Pre-teen Minnesota, 2000 Miss Jr.Teen Minnesota, and 2004 Miss Teen Minnesota International. My dream was made a reality in 2005 when I was crowned Miss Black Minnesota USA. And the dream became a bigger one when I was crowned your 2005/2006 Miss Black USA this past August! I competed against 23 extraordinary young women on August 7th at the Warner Theatre in Washington DC. The entertainment for the evening was Rueben Studdard (American Idol) and the celebrity judges included Genuine and Tommy Davidson. Along with the title I won a $5,000.00 scholarship a trip to the Bahamas and a contract with Color Me Beautiful-Flori Roberts Cosmetics. I also won a trip anywhere in the world for raising the most money for the Children�s Miracle Network. The girls voted for me as Miss Congeniality which was very special because it came from them. Pageants have opened many doors for me to reach out to my community, and it has helped to build my confidence and poise. In addition, my current title has helped me to improve upon my interviewing skills, as I have had the pleasure of doing several radio, Television and magazine interviews. During this time I have had several opportunities to publicly promote the positive impact in which pageantry can make in a young persons life; refuting the negative stereo-types. Like all things there has to be balance. I have had the opportunity to be a Judge at a couple local pageants as well as talent contests and I was able to experience what it was like to be on the other side. Pageantry isn�t my life; it is merely an enhancement to my life, and an opportunity to fulfill my goals and aspirations. Not to mention the additional perks such as scholarship monies needed in order to complete my education, along with an array of gifts and prizes. Pageantry helps me to keep busy and remain focus on the things, which are important; family, goals, values, community and helping those less fortunate. These are the principles in which I was raised. I was brought up going to church and continue to be active today. I�ve had the opportunity of going into nursing homes, doing street ministry, being a Christian camp counselor and singing in the choir.
My mother, with whom I share the same birth date, has always encouraged me to be an activist in our community. Hence, I have volunteered over the years for places such as Ronald McDonald House, Children�s Hospital, The Maplewood Good Samaritan Nursing Home, Dorothy Day Shelter, The Children�s Crisis Center, Y�Tutor�s, Y�Partners Fund Raiser, SISTAH�s, Women of Heart Disease, Camp Good News Christian Camp, Special Olympics, Diabetes Foundation and many area�s of the YMCA such as Family Nights, Teen Night�s, Black Achievers, and Holloween at the YMCA. One of my greatest accomplishments to date is my partnership with Wal-Mart and Children�s Miracle Network, in which we raised over 1 million dollars for Minnesota�s Gillette Children�s Hospital along with helping raise over $2,000.00 and collecting a semi-truck load of items for the Hurricane Katrina Victims. I truly believe in the spirit of enhancing my community, and those in which I come in contact with daily. I have been involved with the YMCA for the past 5 years. I started out as a volunteer and eventually worked for them as a Lifeguard, Dance Instructor and Lead Childcare worker. I was active in many of their youth groups such as Youth in Government, Black Achievers Youth Group, and Leadership Club. I was the President of the Black Achievers, Honorary Youth Chairperson, Vice President of the Black Achievers Advisory Board and named the 2001 Youth of the Year. The YMCA has played a major part in my life and I continue to volunteer there and am a spokes model for them. I will take all that I have learned through the experiences of pageantry and community serves to be a counselor/academic advisor in schools and colleges. I will use my summers to work at my own camp for young African-American men and women to come together and learn more about their culture, create sister/brotherhood and the importance of pursuing their education.
I started modeling at the age of 8 and had training with Premiere Modeling School and Caryn�s International. I have done print & runway for companies such as Target, Dayton�s, XZ Fashion�s, Lavien�s Fashions, Fashion Bug, Women of Today, the Red Dress (Women of Heart Disease), American Girl Doll�s and was a model for the Mall of America Teen Fashion Board. I also tired my hand at a little acting/theatre in school and participated in several plays. One of my most enjoyable memories came when I was an extra in the movie Jingle All The Way with Arnold Swartzenegger & Sinbad. I had the honor of walking the red carpet at the 2006 NAACP Image Awards in February and will be taking part in a movie in August. These are just a couple of the many things that I am doing with my new title. In addition to modeling and acting, I enjoy dancing. I danced for Larkin Dance Studio. Combining dance and community service I became a dance instructor at the YMCA for youth ages 4-17. Although I enjoy all of this, my greatest passion is writing poetry. I have spent the last four years compiling my works and my goal is to one day publish my personal book of poetry. One of my writing pieces I love the most is a poem in which I have written about my life as a young black woman with which I shared as my talent in the Miss Black USA and continue to perform frequently.
I am a graduate from Hill Murray High School, a private-college prep school in Minnesota. While in High School, I was involved in dance, lettered in cheerleading and track while still maintaining my grades and remaining an honor student. My matriculation has led me to the University of Minnesota, in which I am currently a sophomore on the Dean�s list. My major is Family Social Science. My pursuit of excellence is because I want to set an example for my younger siblings, as well as other youth, on the importance of getting an education. Two quotes I strongly believe in are: W.E.B Dubois; �The way for blacks to rise socially an economically is through education� and Malcolm X; �Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today!�. In order to do this I have chosen Education, �A Degree of Importance� for my platform as the Miss Black USA. This requires me to travel to local/national schools and attend many events within the community and worldwide as well as television and radio appearance in order to promote this platform. My mother and I have also created an Essay Contest, �Queen for the Day�, for African American girls in grades 9-12. The winner of the essay contest will be crowned �Black Academic Princess�. For each contestant we hope to promote self esteem letting them know they are a queen no matter what, while at the same time, emphasizing the importance and the seriousness of having a good education. I am also currently mentoring a group of young African American girls ages 13-18. Over the past two years, I have seen them flourish and grow, as we have built a bond and a sisterhood that was not present in the beginning.
Believing in me, trusting in God and family support has been the foundation to my success. My mother and father have been there for me from the beginning and although I am a busy young woman, my family and friends remain my number one priority. I love surrounding myself with my family and making them smile. I am fortunate to have roots that stem back to Liberia (Africa) and I am blessed to say that I recently was invited by the President of Gambia to attend their 41st Independence Celebration and the experience was an incredible/life changing one. I am proud to say that I represented the USA well. I look forward to traveling to Africa a few more times in the near future! All of the struggles I have faced in my life have contributed to giving me the strength, drive and passion that I have for life. I don�t take anything for granted, and I aspire to live in the moment daily. Watching the birth of my little sister Shannaka at the age of 13 showed me how precious life is. I give God all the glory and use the blessings He has given me to help others. My mantra is: �To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world�. This is why I continue to reach out to our youth and I know that I am making a difference. I am extremely proud to be your 2005 Miss Black USA and to be part of a terrific pageant system that not only represents young, beautiful, black women, inside & out but also provides scholarship opportunities. Together we are letting the love of God shine!