Miss Michigan Shares Anti-Drug Message with Wyandotte Students
In the wake of a relative's death, Angela Venditti has focused her platform on reaching young people.
Having volunteered with anti-drug causes since she was 14 years old, Angela Venditti said a family tragedy struck her especially hard at age 20.
Her close friend and cousin, Natalie, died of a heroin overdose in 2008.
And now as the reigning Miss Michigan 2012, who previously was Miss St. Clair Shores, Venditti is sharing her personal story in hopes of reaching other young people.
While her focus is on prevention, the 24-year-old said she tailors her talk depending on the age of her audience.
"With the younger kids, it's about working on decision-making skills and things like that," she said. "With an older group, it's possible they may have already tried or are maybe using drugs or alcohol. With an older group, my message is it's never too late to start over and good things can come to your life from living a clean lifestyle."
"I know I'm not talking to a group of kindergartners here and maybe some of you have experimented with drugs and alcohol," she said. "But my point to you is it's never too late to start over. It's never too late to have a new day. ... You don't know where your life is going to take you, but your choices are going to lead the way to where you're going to end up."
Venditti talked about going to her first party as a teenager. While other girls huddled in a corner drinking, she felt like an outcast and ended up leaving.
"I know it's really hard to feel like you're the only one," she said. "And you might feel like you're the only one who doesn't experiment with drugs. ... When it seems like everyone is doing it, everyone's not. You don't have to be part of that statistic. It's kind of easy to fall into the trap."
Freshman Annie Stec was so impressed by the talk that she waited afterward to get Venditti's autograph.
"She seems like a really nice person and she runs on a really good platform that I think all students should listen to," Stec said. "I feel like being drug free is really important. ... Kids my age are always doing marijuana and I don't think that's very good. I think that is one of the stupidest life decisions anyone can make. It can ruin your life forever."
Venditti said she lives by the words told to her from a former addict who turned his life around.
"Smart people learn from their mistakes," she said, quoting him. "Smarter people learn from other people's mistakes."
In addition to visiting Roosevelt, Venditti also made a surprise visit to Washington Elementary School on Tuesday, where she spoke briefly with the third- through fifth-graders and popped in for a quick visit with the younger students.
"It's always fun talking with the little kids," she said. "They ask the funniest questions. Is my crown real? Do I live in a castle?"
(For the record, the crown is real, made of Swarovski crystals. But there is no Miss Michigan castle.)
The Rotary Club of Wyandotte sponsored Venditti's trip to Wyandotte.