Miss California says key to success is to 'keep trying'

Updated: 2014-05-01 09:15

By Luo Wangshu and Tan Yingzi in Chongqing (China Daily)

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Miss California says key to success is to 'keep trying'

Crystal Lee and her mother Wendy Lee appear on a US TV program after Crystal Lee became Miss California in 2013. Photo provided to China Daily

In 2001, Elaine Chao became the first Chinese-American woman to join the cabinet of a US president. Eight years later, Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States. In 2011, Gary Locke became the first Chinese-American ambassador to China.

They are examples of members of American ethnic groups who have achieved great success. And like them, Chinese-American Crystal Lee's rise to prominence was not easy. "I did not win the first year," said Lee, who was named Miss California in 2013. "I came back and competed again. As immigrants to the United States, my grandparents and parents have taught me that the only way to make it is to keep tying."

The 22-year-old was the first runner-up in the Miss America 2014 pageant, and the second Chinese-American Miss California in the 89-year history of the pageant. Her pageant career started in 2007 at the age of 15, when she participated in the Miss Teen Chinatown competition.

"I was under a lot of pressure in high school. I was either dancing, sleeping or doing schoolwork," she recalled. "I was like a zombie at high school."

After classes, Lee practiced dancing for four hours every day. "I was sore and tired when I got home. I always took a nap and then did my schoolwork," she said.

Lee's hard work paid off. She performed the ballet The Dying Swan during the Miss America pageant.

Lee is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a bachelor's degree in human biology and a master's in communication.

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