By Don Alexander/Garden Grove Journal
It’s been nothing but success for Miss Garden Grove, Leah Cecil. The 21-year old lifelong Garden Grove resident recently became the first-runner-up in the Miss California Pageant, falling just short of the title that featured 59 girls from around the state.
“I am so appreciative of Stacy Margolin and the people in my hometown of Garden Grove. It has been a magical journey. Stacy and her best friend, Jennifer Gallo, put so much time in this pageant. I grew so much as a woman and person. They taught me interviewing, speaking and other skills. I overcame stage fright with their help. It was like a big giant family of Garden Grove people. I was so happy to do well for them,” said Leah.
Leah started trying out for Miss Garden Grove in 2004 getting second runner-up twice. In 2008 she won the Anaheim Teen title and then won first-runner-up in the Miss Garden Grove contest in 2010. But in 2011 she finally made it to the top and won the Garden Grove award.
Leah just got back from the Miss California Pageant, which is part of the Miss America Pageant. She won the first-runner-up position, which qualified her to go to Hoopeston, Illinois in late August to compete for the National Sweetheart Pageant. Top Miss America runner-ups from around the country are set to compete for the title.
“I get to be Miss California for a week,” said Leah. “I will wear that designation on my sash for a week. It’ll be great. The winner gets $1,000 in scholarship money so I hope I win.”
Leah has won over $7,000 in scholarship awards since vying for scholarship pageant titles since she was 14. She has a year left at Cal-State Fullerton majoring in music. She is a harpist and plays harp in the talent portion of her auditions.
Leah has lived in West Garden Grove her entire life, going to Barker Elementary, Bell Intermediate and Pacifica High School.
Leah thanks all of her supporters including the Garden Grove Rotary Club which has sponsored her since the sixth grade.
She appreciates the support from her parents including her mother, Robin Cecil, a professional violinist, who included her in a job with a band that played for a wedding in Donald Trump’s glamorous Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
“We didn’t even know where the venue was until we got there. Mom’s played some great places with Elton John, Josh Groban, Rod Stewart and Shania Twain. But this is the neatest venue I’ve played in,” said Leah.
Leah hopes to be a professional harpist someday but right now she’s trying to figure out how to get her harp to Illinois.
“It costs $500 to ship it so I’m going to borrow a 47-string Grand Concert Harp from a person there. Then I will try and win an open title contest like Miss Hollywood or Orange County so I can compete in the Miss California Pageant next year. I want to win that!” said Leah.
Miss Garden Grove, 2011, has come a long way from West Garden Grove to the Miss California runner up title.
One day she may be Miss California. And who knows, maybe even Miss America.