It’s not as though Emma Sheedy is a stranger to the spotlight’s glare. A Guam national track champion, an accomplished model, a presence as a reporter/editor at no fewer than three media platforms on island, the soon-to-be Guam High School is considered a known commodity.
But to be on stage for the finals of the Miss Earth Guam pageant June 21 at the Sheraton Laguna Resort Hotel in Tamuning? And to be announced as the winner out of 17 total contestants?
“I was in shock,” Sheedy said of the moments following the official announcement. “My jaw dropped. I started to shake, tears were coming down. I said to myself, ‘Calm down, calm down, it’s OK!’ I was in awe. Speechless. I’d never felt that way.”
Pageant officials then placed the crown on her head to the applause of the hundreds in attendance, including her father, Jason, Guam High School’s principal, and mother, longtime DODEA educator, Denise.
“She worked hard and showed a lot of dedication,” said Denise Sheedy, Guam district’s Teacher of the Year for 2016.
“Great story for military kids,” said Jason Sheedy, who served six years in the Army before becoming a teacher, then an administrator.
Along with the crown came a full scholarship to Argosy University in Hawaii, plus a cell phone, a wardrobe from Forever 21, and an automobile, the type to be determined soon, Sheedy said. (Fear not; she’s been licensed to drive on island for a couple of years).
Plus, Sheedy gets a trip to the Philippines for the 17th Miss Earth World pageant, to be held sometime in October or November at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City in metro Manila. She’ll be the first DODEA student from Guam to be entered in the pageant.
But almost immediately after she took the crown Wednesday, her schedule became much busier.
The next morning, she took part in a cleanup around the Sheraton’s grounds – mirroring her Miss Earth Guam platform, which was illegal dumping. Then came a commercial shoot for one of the pageant’s sponsors, followed by a meeting with the teen intern staff at Pacific Daily News, one of the media platforms where she works.
“I am very busy,” Sheedy said, but “I enjoy it a lot.”
And that’s even without the months spent doing the various appearances and meet-and-greets that went along with being selected for the Miss Earth Guam pageant in late February.
Sheedy was Guam High’s junior class vice-president, a National Honor Society member with her sister Lily, a freshman, took two Advanced Placement courses (U.S. history and language) and maintained a 3.5 GPA. She was also a member of Student to Student, a mentorship working with students new to Guam High.
On the athletics fields, Sheedy was captain of her cross-country team, the Panthers softball team’s starting third baseman and island champion in the 400 and 800 meters in track and field. Briefly this season, she held the island records in the 800 and 1,500.
Equally at home on either side of a camera, Sheedy served as the school’s CCTV anchor, editor of the school paper, Panther Planet, and interns with the island’s Pacific Daily News and the Guam Sports Network, an internet platform. She also models for Biba Modeling Agency.
Sheedy said she was already an avid writer when her father and one of her teachers noted an ad in the paper. “You’re a really good writer; you should do this,” the teacher told Emma.
“That is a passion of mine,” Sheedy said, adding that she brought a portfolio of her stories and a magazine that she’d made on her own. The editor who interviewed her, Duane George, brought her aboard the PDN’s VIBE teen-intern program as an editor.
“She’s pretty impressive,” said George, who’s been with the PDN since his days as an intern in 1987 to his current editor post. Sheedy has been with PDN for more than a year.
She’s spent a like amount of time with GSPN, which was founded by former PDN staffer Patrick Lujan five years ago. Sheedy has been part of GSPN’s camera crew for three live game productions, Lujan said. “She’s always willing to learn and eager to do things new,” he said.
“Slowly, I got to realize I could take pictures, do video, livestreaming; I’ve come a long way,” Sheedy said, adding that she hopes someday to work for a TV network or as a photojournalist.
Just after the new year, Sheedy said she was approached by a family friend, Linda Salas, and a Miss Earth Guam official, John Cortez, about entering the pageant.
“This was completely different territory; I was iffy about it,” Sheedy said of entering the pageant – especially the thought of being on stage with 16 equally beautiful girls her age, with all eyes in the audience on them.
“The first preliminaries, I was really nervous,” Sheedy said. “Every time I went on stage, my heart dropped.”
She learned to relax with every passing public appearance and preliminary, she said. “You get to do community service, you learn to speak better, you become more confident,” Sheedy said.
Most importantly, she said, she learned a lot about the environment, something she says she’s always been conscious of, having learned to recycle in the home.
Though Guam lies far away from places like China where smog and pollution are a constant, Sheedy realizes the world problem.
“We haven’t been affected as much as other places … I learned that things are speeding up fast,” she said.
Sheedy has read and discussed with scientists and other environment-conscious people about islands in the Pacific that have been disappearing due to polar ice-cap melting, “and it’s going to affect us eventually,” she said.
She created her illegal dumping platform, she said, by doing her own research, looking at the dumping laws on Guam.
“Trash (can) flow down to coral reefs, cover them, and the reefs protecting us from tsunami will be destroyed,” Sheedy said. “And the tourists who come here, they expect to see a beautiful island, they want to see a place that’s clean, healthy and fresh.”
Sheedy hasn’t engaged in debates with those on the other side of the argument. If she does one day, she would say “it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.
It is happening, and it will catch up to us on Guam if we don’t do our part.”
Now that the first part is over, Sheedy says she’s pointing toward her senior year in high school – and appearing in a worldwide pageant on the same level as Miss Universe.
So, what is she doing to prepare for that? “So many people have asked me the same question,” Sheedy said. “I’m still in awe, in shock that I even won this crown. I eventually will start thinking about that.”
Emma Sheedy was also a contributing sports photographer for the Stars and Stripes during her junior school year.