Caty Davis, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, was crowned Miss America’s Miss Tennessee 2017 last June. In her reign as Miss Tennessee, she’s traveled more than 80,000 miles and spoken to nearly 50,000 students. She also serves in numerous roles across the state and country. Caty has spent the last year championing her platform, Attacking Addiction, and sharing her incredible story. She’s helped raise more than $40,000 for addiction recovery programs across the state. We are honored to introduce her as today’s StyleBlueprint FACE!
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up.
I was born and raised in Knoxville. We lived in a neighborhood in north Knoxville that had many kids around the same age. The Cherrybrook gang had weekly tea parties, Slip ’N Slides, we’d catch tadpoles in the creek … typical neighborhood fun. Our babysitter lived right next door, and she still is like a big sister to me. When my mother and father divorced, my little sister and I would visit our dad’s house on the weekends.
How did you get involved in pageants?
I met my first Miss Tennessee when I was in eighth grade at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Like many, the crown drew me in. From that moment on, I set a goal to be Miss Tennessee. Then, like most middle schoolers, I stalked the Miss America website to see how to become Miss Tennessee. I asked my mother, and with some persuading, she caught on to the idea. I began competing in the Miss America Outstanding Teen division, but I actually didn’t win a local title until I was in 11th grade. I continued to compete, because I loved the program and its emphasis on community service. More importantly, I really needed scholarship money to afford college. The Miss America Organization gave me the opportunity to sing on stage and gain scholarship dollars while continuing to be the best I could be.
What is your role as Miss Tennessee?
My role as Miss Tennessee, first and foremost, is to represent my state and be a positive role model. It is something I strive to do day in and day out. As Miss Tennessee, it is my honor to serve in a variety of positions across the state and nation. To name a few, I am the goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the state, Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesperson for Character Education, national spokesperson for Facing Addiction, and the goodwill ambassador for Count It! Lock It! Drop It! I get to wear a lot of hats (or crowns) in this position, but each day is rewarding!
Can you tell us a little about your background with addiction and how you chose “Attacking Addiction” as your platform? How did you get involved with the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! initiative?
Addiction is a horrible disease that has plagued my family for three generations and drove my father and brother to suicide. It’s something that’s had a huge impact on my life, so when I was named Miss Tennessee last June, there was no doubt in my mind that my platform would be to attack addiction. I feel like I was given an opportunity to spread awareness of the addiction epidemic, as well as help change the stigma surrounding substance abuse. No one, whether they’re struggling with or know someone struggling with addiction, should feel ashamed to reach out for help.
That’s why I was excited for the opportunity to serve as the goodwill ambassador for the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! (CLD) initiative. The program, which encourages people to count their medication, lock them up and dispose of them properly, aligned with my goals to educate Tennessee on the dangers of opioid abuse and break the stigma! It’s been a great experience working alongside CLD and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to spread awareness about medication safety. I consider it one of my most important positions as Miss Tennessee.
How can Tennesseans do their part to help fight the opioid epidemic in our state?
Fighting the epidemic can start with something as simple as cleaning out your medicine cabinet and keeping potentially dangerous medications out of the wrong hands. Count It! Lock It! Drop It! recommends these three easy steps:
1. Count your pills at least every two weeks to monitor theft and help ensure medications are taken properly.
2. Lock and store medications in a secure place where others wouldn’t think to look.
3. Drop off unused or expired medications at drop boxes or take-back events.
The DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 28. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tennesseans can drop off their unused or expired medications at more than 150 take-back locations across the state. This is a safe and convenient way to remove medicine from your home! You can find the location closest to you here.
What advice do you have for kids and families who are dealing with prescription drug abuse in their homes?
My go-to advice is the Four C’s: I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, but I can celebrate myself and make good choices.
It’s so important for families, especially kids, who might be dealing with this struggle to know it isn’t their fault. They aren’t defined by the choices of others, which I had to remind myself of growing up. I can make good choices — that’s something I’m in control of: me. I can work toward my goal of ensuring the destructive cycle of substance abuse in my family is ending with me.
What has been your most memorable moment as Miss Tennessee so far?
Connections with students are the most memorable moments for me as Miss Tennessee. Being able to travel to so many schools has been a huge blessing. I’ve met students from all walks of life. Going into each school, I make a goal to reach at least one student. I’ve seen students start off laughing at me or not paying attention to what I’m saying; but when I am vulnerable and real with my story, I see them start opening up. Afterward, it’s the same kids coming up to thank me and even sharing their own stories. Getting to use my platform to connect with students is an incredible opportunity that I will never take for granted.
What are your plans after your reign as Miss Tennessee is over? We’re all wondering … do you get to keep the crown?
There are a lot of opportunities out there; but at this time, I am planning to travel abroad for a month or so before returning to school. I am hoping to get my master’s degree in psychology. As far as the crown goes, I DO get to keep the crown; but once I take it off on June 24 (when the new Miss Tennessee is crowned), it’s off for good — I can’t put it back on!
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
Never doubt yourself!
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
I couldn’t live without Starbucks coffee, Apple music or a navigation system … my sense of direction is terrible.
Thank you, Caty, for sharing your story!
Want insider tips from financial experts? Read our new Q&A series, “Ask Reliant,” in which Reliant’s dynamic team of financial experts cuts through all the dizzying fiscal jargon and delivers practical answers. Approachable financial information has never been easier! Click here to read the first article in the series.