Caressa Cameron is the ultimate hometown girl. She married her high school sweetheart. She has two beautiful children. She plans weddings through her own small business Caressed By Design, and with all of this, she still finds time to volunteer.
She’s a typical hometown girl with one major exception: Cameron was Miss America 2010. She is the eighth Black Miss America titleholder, the first Black Miss Virginia to be crowned Miss America. And her story, which is still unfolding, began in Fredericksburg.
Cameron grew up in Fredericksburg and followed the path of many locals. She graduated from Massaponax High School in 2005 and went on to study at Virginia Commonwealth University. But while she was in school, she saw a power in pageants.
She told the Free Lance-Star in an interview, “As pageant queens, we have the influence to help shape young people’s characters and major decisions.”
Her first major win, the one that started her on the path to Miss America, was her crowning as Miss Fredericksburg Fair in 2005.
After that, her path to the next crown was a winding one. But she never gave up.
Caressa Cameron placed second runner-up at the Miss Virginia Teen USA 2005 pageant. She was second runner-up at the Miss Virginia USA 2006 pageant. She placed second runner-up again in the 2006 and 2007 Miss Virginia pageants. And at the 2008 competition, she was named first runner-up.
Cameron was crowned Miss Virginia in 2009, her fourth attempt at the title. She went on to compete for Miss America and on Jan. 30, 2010, Cameron won the Miss America 2010 pageant. Her vocal skills, clear compassion for others and demonstrated advocacy made her an obvious choice for the crown.
As Miss America, she traveled more than 250,000 miles during her year of service to advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention. Through her platform “Real Talk: AIDS in America,” she spoke to more 80,000 students around the U.S.
Her work didn’t stop there. She’s worked for AIDS United, an organization dedicated to ending the spread of HIV/AIDS and developing sound public health policies in response to the epidemic, and before that she was youth coordinator of the FACES project—Fighting the AIDS Crisis with Education and Support—a nonprofit group started by her mother. In lieu of gifts for her 2012 wedding, she asked for donations to AIDS United.
Her inspiration in all this work is close to home. Cameron lost her uncle to the disease when she was 8 years old. And on one of her speaking tours, she spoke to students about AIDS prevention locally at Riverbend and Courtland high schools and at her alma mater, Massaponax High School.
Caressa Cameron is proof that a woman can define herself any way she wants to, and that she can wear many hats. She is a beauty queen. A mother. A wife. An advocate. A trailblazer. A student. A business owner.
Caressa Cameron is whatever she wants to be.