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  • By Dana Casadei

Aneesa Sheikh

Some women spend years training for competitions like Miss Michigan Teen USA. This year’s winner, Aneesa Sheikh, wasn’t your typical competitor. For starters, she signed up a mere three weeks before the competition in late September. “Honestly, I did it just for fun but took like a good week to sink in,” said Sheikh, a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School. Since she won, Sheikh has noticed a few changes in her life, the biggest that people now treat her with a different level of respect. With newfound respect comes, well, people asking her expertise on topics or what to do in certain situations. “It’s so random to me that people want my opinion and care about my opinion,” she said. “And I realize it’s because now I’m viewed as an expert at Miss Michigan stuff.” The title does come with some nice perks as well. Not only is there a college scholarship but winners gain sponsors who will help them prepare for Miss Teen USA 2020 this spring. “I never really got my nails done all the time, but now, they’re telling me to come in every two weeks. That’s a good perk,” she laughed. While technically she didn’t train too much for this competition, Sheikh thinks in some ways she’s actually been training for Miss Michigan Teen USA her whole life. Starting with her time in competitive skating, which she began at nine. At one point she was skating eight hours a day, but now she’s at a less intense capacity. She’s currently the captain of the varsity figure skating team at her high school, where she’s also on the forensics team. So how did this skating help her at Miss Michigan Teen USA? “Being able to zone out,” she said. “When you step on the ice you have to focus completely on yourself and what you’re doing and not what other people are thinking of you if you make a mistake.” This came in handy when she got on stage, tripped on her evening gown, and ripped it. She had to recover quickly, and not focus on what the audience may or may not have seen. Sheikh has connected some of her other extracurriculars to the competition as well, including her love for music. While the Miss Michigan Teen competition winners appear at events all throughout the state, a few of which are required, for the most part, winners get to play a large role in where they do things like volunteer. “They don’t want to give us things we don’t have passion for,” said the singer/songwriter. Sheikh plans to volunteer with children and elderly people with disabilities, and sing at retirement homes and rehabilitation centers. Her love of music also won her awards at this summer’s International Model and Talent convention, including a scholarship to record, produce, and master one original song. Said song, “Bad Thing,” will be released in January. Eventually, Sheikh would like to participate in a Miss USA pageant, for those who have gone through college. Right now though, she’s focused on the upcoming competition, continuing to pursue her music career, acting, modeling, being a figure skating coach, and getting ready to graduate high school, hoping to attend either University of Michigan or University of Southern California. She wants to pursue a double major in business and economics, with a minor in communications. “It (USC) would be perfect because I could pursue my outside extracurricular as well as school,” she said. Photo: Laurie Tennent

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