HPW’s Inspiring Women series profiles remarkable Greek-American professional women whose stories of success inspire and encourage us to achieve our own career goals and aspirations.
Miss U.S. International 2020
MARITSA PLATIS of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina captured the covenant national title of Miss U.S International in June of 2020. Honing the crown of one of the largest competitions in the world, Maritsa proudly represents the United States as the first woman from South Carolina to win the title. As Miss U.S International, Maritsa uses the title to enact effective change through the organization’s core values of love, peace, and unity on a global spectrum. A Sophomore at the University of South Carolina studying Public Health with a concentration in Pre-Med, Platis aspires to pursue a career as a Neonatologist, working with infants in the NICU. She consigns her passion for newborns with a personal advocacy as her year with the Miss U.S International crown is centered around infant asphyxia awareness in the United States.
As a first-generation American, Maritsa Platis has a strong Greek heritage that has shaped her into the woman she is today. The Miss U.S International has a message of “Cheer All Women”, and Maritsa is excited to compete amongst 80+ countries for the grand title of Miss International. As she represents the United States, Maritsa developed an advocacy entitled Cradle of Love where she aims to educate others on the dangers of co-sleeping while also providing substantial support to families in need.
Contributor: Frederica Bolgouras
What is your passion?
I have always been involved with charities and organizations ever since I was younger, whether it would be through my church, school, or community growing up. I have always had a passion for helping and serving those in need. I am not only a full-time student, but I have created an initiative near and dear to my heart called “Cradle of Love” hoping to educate parents on the dangers of co-sleeping with infants as well as fundraisers to provide supplies for families that need support. I have donated over one hundred baby items and cradles to families through my initiative. I am happiest when I am helping others. I feel that no matter how big or small, we can make a huge impact in the lives around us. As Miss U.S. International, I plan to continue working on my initiative and to further my involvement with other organizations. I am so humbled to be able not only to serve the United States but the people around the world.
What motivated you to enter Miss International US 2020?
The Miss International Organization is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants in the world. This is one of the most coveted beauty titles among the international pageant competitions. I believe that the core values of the Miss International Organization truly represent who I am as a person. Whether you wear a crown or not, I believe everyone can make a difference and be the change they want to see in this world. Being Miss U.S. International is an honor. Once crowned, I knew the importance of the title and the impact it could have on others. My motivation to compete in this organization stems from knowing I can use my voice and sphere of influence to advocate for those who cannot be heard. I knew that this was more than a title but an outlet where I can create a wave of change. The work that goes into community service and bringing others together brings tears to my eyes. I plan to work just as hard if I have the honor of becoming the next Miss International 2021.
What are your goals and mission statement as the crowned Miss International US 2020?
As the current Miss U.S. International 2020, I have developed an advocacy entitled “Cradle of Love” where I aim to educate others on the dangers of co-sleeping while also providing substantial support to families in need. Through my initiative I provide bassinets and baby items to lower-income families. Gaining inspiration from a family member who passed away from co- sleeping/positional asphyxia, the fatalities resulting from co-sleeping impacts many parents in the U.S. In relation to my personal initiative, Cradle of Love, throughout my reign my goal is to partner with hospitals and organizations to fundraise for families across the nation. I plan to elevate my voice by standing with numerous nonprofits, and organizations that align with the International Organization’s mission. My mission statement for my year as Miss U.S. International 2020 is “let’s combat infant asphyxia with one cradle at a time, by speaking up for the voices that cannot be heard”.
What are you aspiring to accomplish in your professional career?
As a Public Health student at the University of South Carolina, I aspire to accomplish becoming a doctor, working with infants in the NICU and children within the medical field.
Who has inspired you the most in your life?
The person who has inspired me the most in my life would be my mother. She has been through so much in her life and she inspires me every day. She is a breast cancer survivor and has been through many tough life changing moments. Despite it all, she continues to have such a positive outlook on life. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her, because of her I am a strong, powerful, and driven woman.
Tell me about a few of your most proud accomplishments?
I am most proud of my scholastic achievements; I am a full-time scholar student at my University. I was honored to receive the awards of the Presidential Honors list and Dean’s list awards.
What advice would you give to professional Hellenic-American Women today in their careers?
The advice I would give to the professional Hellenic- American Women of today would be, we must pursue our dreams with the same perseverance and hard work in the spirit of the legacy of our immigrant grandparents. Our opportunities are endless and with hard work anything is possible.
What impact has your Greek heritage had on your aspiring career?
Growing up I always heard my grand-mother talk about the Oath of Hippocrates and how the first medical doctor was Greek. She also said the first lawyer, politician, philosopher and the list goes on. She always made me feel we stand on the shoulders of giants and we have a responsibility to do great things. I am so very proud of so many Greeks making great medical discoveries including currently with the Covid vaccine.
Are you involved with the Greek community?
I have been involved in the Greek Community since I was a child. I attended Greek School, GOYA, and Traditional Troupe Greek dancing. I have always enjoyed being involved with my church and the Greek community. Because of Covid of course we have not congregated in our community hall in a long time, but I hope soon enough we will be all together again hopefully.
Given the COVID pandemic, how are you handling the stress this has caused and which wellness and coping exercises and mechanisms would you recommend?
As a nation many people have experienced, loss, hurt, struggles, and pain due to the global pandemic. It is hard to see others go through this difficult time, but as a community and through international exchange we must come together to support each other. As for myself, each day I am trying my best to stay happy and healthy, by exercising and keeping up with my daily activities. Although it was extremely hard for me at first to complete tasks due to the stressors of the pandemic, I recommend that everyone tries every single day to push through the obstacles. No matter how little or small, we must celebrate the tasks we complete.
Given the Black Lives Matter movement today, what are your thoughts on social justice and how would you approach this as a leader to make a difference?
As a leader I believe it is our duty to speak up and take a stance against the social injustices happening in our society. We must understand that everyone’s voices’ matter and we must listen to those who need our help. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
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