Samantha Joy Fay

NAMI DC Press Release


November 25, 2018

CONTACT:    Melinda Hasbrouck, 202.538.0006 or     

NAMI DC Member, Youth Ambassador to Compete for Miss District of Columbia USA


WASHINGTON — On Saturday, December 8, 2018, the 2019 Miss District of Columbia USA & Miss District of Columbia Teen USA pageants will be held at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Theatre of the Arts. Tickets for the preliminary and final shows can be purchased on Eventbrite. Samantha Joy Fay, a NAMI DC member and youth ambassador, will compete next month for the title of Miss District of Columbia USA. A native Washingtonian, she is a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives and a volunteer crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. 

For Samantha, pageantry and a passion for mental health go hand in hand. At 15, she dreamed of becoming Miss USA, but traumatic events during her senior year put that dream on hold. After struggling to manage new diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and PTSD as a college freshman, she took a leave of absence to focus on her mental health and healing. It was time well spent. Samantha returned to college and graduated with honors in four years. Since then, she has earned a Master's degree and founded a non-profit organization called Defiant Minds, which empowers young people to discover and develop resilience, practice empathy and early peer intervention, take an active role in their mental wellness, and create change in their schools and communities. 

Now, at 27, Samantha is chasing her Miss USA dream with a new sense of purpose.

"From the moment I decided to compete for Miss District of Columbia USA, I knew I had to champion mental health and resilience. The fear of being stigmatized was there at first, but what kind of role model would I be if I didn't share this defining part of my story or demonstrate the courage I try to inspire in others? As someone with lived experience, I want to say and do something that matters, and that starts with showing people in the District what recovery looks like. It means sharing those skills and practices that are the foundation for a healthy life, and have allowed me to keep moving in the direction of this dream."

If crowned the next Miss District of Columbia USA, Samantha will represent DC at the nationally-televised Miss USA pageant. While the thought is thrilling for her, she says the potential impact she'll have on people during her year of service―especially those silenced by the stigma around mental health―is her greatest motivator.

"As Miss DC USA, I wouldn't want to project perfection. I want young people to see their journeys in my journey and truly believe anything is possible for them―no matter what they face, the time it takes, or how often they get knocked down. I want them to look at me and see someone who has chosen to be vulnerable so they can feel strong, valuable, and less alone. For me, using the power of this opportunity to reach out and touch more people is what being Miss DC USA is all about. I hope I get that chance."

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