Senator Tim Kaine once said,
“When you want to know something about the character of somebody in public life or who they truly are, look to see if they have a passion that began long before they were in office or that position they are champion for, and that they have consistently held it throughout their career. Do they have a passion? Did it start before they were in office or before they were pursuing that position?”
When I think of my "Why", I find that what motivates me most are my family, service, music and dedication to making a difference.
My story began a little over 23 years ago on a winter day in 1995 in Waukegan, Illinois. My parents are retired naval officers, so naturally, “GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY”! My mother retired after 20 years as a Lieutenant Commander and my father retired after 24 years as a Lieutenant. His retirement ceremony was the first time I sang the National Anthem and I had the confidence of Beyoncé with the choreography to match.
Singing at my father's retirement ceremony
at only 8 years old
While most military children constantly move, I only moved once from Illinois to Chesapeake, Virginia, at the age of three. My parents believe heavily in giving back, and so I began to join them in volunteering at the age of four. Four was a big year for me, for several reasons, but mainly because it was also the year that I was introduced to the arts. I learned how to read, play the piano, and sing. I was introduced to opera for the first time and it was the beginning of my classical training! And through volunteering, I was able to further my skills and love of music through serving others, which ultimately became the foundation for my platform, Peer Empowerment and Community Engagement (P.E.A.C.E).
I remain an avid volunteer to this day, and encourage others to find their passion and give back. During my externship with NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) I learned that there was a real need for education and awareness for human trafficking and to help and demand an end to missing children, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization. So in 2017, in addition to continuing to encourage and inspire youth to become active in their community, I changed my platform to Demand an End: Stop Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking.
As for my education, in 2013, I graduated with honors with an advanced diploma from “The Hickory High School” and a member of Governor School for the Arts, vocal department. I then, received a four-year scholarship to Hollins University upon winning Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen 2012 and completed my undergraduate studies in three years with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Music, graduating Cum Laude in 2016. While at school, I served as a mentor in the Early Transition Program, Black Student Alliance, Tour Guide, Admissions’ panelist, student leader on the Jamaican Cultural Immersion Program for two years where I traveled to Jamaica during my springbreak, and President of the Sandusky Service House. Senior year, I also followed in my mother’s footsteps by becoming a woman of the most illustrious sisterhood, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. After graduating from Hollins, I was accepted into George Washington University (GWU) to pursue my M.A in Forensic Psychology and graduated in December of 2017 with a 3.85 gpa. I am currently obtaining my Psy.D in Clinical Psychology at GWU, becoming the first “Dr.” in my family.
One of the most profound moments in my life that made me recognize the importance of music was when I was able to see the correlation between the music and the mind. My first voice teacher, Mr, Bob, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was 12, which caused us to stop voice lessons. Due to the severity of his Alzheimer’s, I was unable to visit with him until I was around 13 or 14 years old. However, we were able to reconnect through our love for music.
Witness the power of music when Bob joined me in singing Quando Men Vo.
Bob became alert and remembering the lyrics and the musicality of the piece, showing his true passion and love for music (This aria will always be my favorite!)
Even though everything else in the world seemed distorted to him, he was able to find his peace through music. Music and service will always be at the core of my foundation, because it is through them both that I have been able to find my passions.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
I feel blessed to be in the position I am in and I thank God for all of the many blessings he's given me. I am humbled by all of the many memorable moments I have experienced thus far and look to the future for many more. I think some of my most memorable memories were meeting the President Obama and having the honor of singing the National Anthem at his rally in Hampton, Virginia. I auditioned and was chosen as a National Anthem performer for the NBA Washington Wizards, where I performed before a sold out crowd of over 17,000 (playoff game), The Capital City Go-Go (NBA G league of the Wizards) and WNBA Washington Mystics. I was so honored to have been asked to sing the National Anthem at the Miss America 2013 pageant in Vegas as Miss VA's Outstanding Teen (VAOT) the 1st and only and my commencement exercise at Hollins University, the 1st and only. I have been interviewed and appeared on Good Morning America, The Wendy Williams Show, various televisions and radio stations, newspaper articles and magazines. See my resume for a few of my other accomplishments, such as being a recipient of the Miss America Community Service Award, MAOTeen in Action 2012 Award (1st and only VAOT to receive this honor), 1st MAOTeen Distinguished Alumni Award 2016, Quality of Life finalist for 2015 & 2016, Wells Fargo Community Service Award and the President's Volunteer Service Award (lifetime achievement), and my pageant career. And receiving a proclamation from Mayor of Roanoke, VA, Mayor David A. Bowers, proclaiming March 7, 2016 Andolyn Medina Day!