Call Rebekah Williams 'Miss Chicago'

DeWayne Bartels
Rebekah Williams, left, with Kaitlyn Wehr, Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen, after Williams was crowned.

Rebekah Williams has a way to go, but she has her sights set on the Miss America Pageant.

The MTHS junior has taken the first step toward that goal — winning the “Miss Chicago Outstanding Teen 2011 Contest.” Williams, 17, grabbed that title on March 19.

But, Williams has little time to savor her win because on July 1 she will compete against  other regional winners for the title of “Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen.” Winning that title would propel Williams toward the

Miss Illinois and Miss America contests.

And, that is an opportunity she wants.

Confidence found

Williams is a bit of a study in contradictions.

“Every little girl watches the Miss America Contest and dreams of winning,” Williams said.

Girls want to be a princess when they are little. But, as you grow older girls can lack self-confidence. I did.”

Williams described that lack of confidence.  

“Every girl feels she doesn’t measure up in some way. I didn’t feel pretty enough,” she said.

So, Williams said, lacking self-confidence, she decided to try to enter the world of the beauty/talent pageant.

That was four years ago.

“I just did it. I don’t remember what caused me to do it,” she said.

“A switch just flipped.”

Williams’ first attempt was the Miss Fox Valley Outstanding Teen Contest.

She lost.

But, she left the competition determined to try again.

Williams then entered the “Miss Chicago Outstanding Teen Contest

(because there is no longer a “Miss Heart of Illinois Contest.”)

She entered the contest in February and was standing before the judges on March 19.

“I was excited. I wasn’t very nervous. I decided what happened was what was meant to happen,” Williams said. “I thought my chances of winning were pretty good.”

She was right and walked away the winner. Williams said she found what she had been lacking.

“When I won I was excited, but a little surprised. It was anyone’s game. This gave me confidence,” Williams said.

“I’ve learned through this process I’m an intelligent and talented young girl with goals. I’m dedicated. I’m a good friend. I’m a good daughter.”

One of the judges also helped contribute to her confidence.

“One of the judges said I had a presence that can’t be taught, that it was just there,” Williams said.


Williams said the pageant involves a lot of different things.

“There’s an interview. Then there’s talent. It’s far from being just about beauty. It’s more about yourself and who you are,” she said.

“Once you have the dress it’s a matter of practicing your talent and having family and friends ask you questions.”

Williams said there is a lot of time spent paying attention to current events and being quizzed on them because the contestants have no idea what topic of discussion might arise from the judges in the interview phase of the contest.

The whole process has started once again. Williams is entered in the “Miss Outstanding Illinois Teen Contest.”

She competes in that pageant July 1 in Marion.

The field includes 20 teens.

“I’m excited. I’m not that nervous,” Williams said.


Winning this title, Williams said, makes her feel a part of something bigger. It has also made her realize she is now a role model.

“It makes me feel special to be in that kind of role,” Williams said. “As a role model I have to make wise decisions and work to make sure those around me make wise decisions.”

With the title also comes the responsibility of making appearances to showcase the title and pageant.

“I’m not forced to make appearances. They will not let me choose this over school,” Williams said.

The Miss America Pageant is a goal,” Williams said. But, she is focused on her education.

“I want to wait a couple of years for that,” Williams said.