The Road to Mrs. Hawaii 2012 by L. Stacey Snee
Stacey Snee is a Navy spouse, former Naval Officer, U.S. Naval Academy graduate, and the reigning Mrs. Hawaii 2012. She has a Masters in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Hawaii and is a Registered Dietitian. Stacey and her husband Dave have two young children.
The most common question I’ve been asked in the month since I was crowned Mrs. Hawaii 2012 on April 15th is “Why did you decide to run for Mrs. Hawaii?” Having never competed in a pageant before and being the oldest contestant in the pageant, I often say “I must have been a little impulsive.” However, the truth is that I saw it as an amazing opportunity to represent married women and mothers in the state of Hawaii and to bring awareness to some issues that I am especially passionate about. It has also been a great opportunity to represent military spouses, veterans, and the military community as a whole.
I am a proud U.S. Naval Academy graduate (Class of ’98) and served on active duty for just over five years, first as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and later as a Meteorology and Oceanography officer (METOC). During my time as a SWO I was stationed in Norfolk, Va. on the USS Saipan (LHA-2) where I completed a 6-month deployment as Combat Systems Electronics Division Officer and was awarded one of the Junior Officer Shiphandler of the Year distinctions for the Atlantic Fleet. My husband Dave, a career Surface Warrior who is currently Executive Officer of USS Hopper (DDG 70) in Pearl Harbor, loves to tell his Junior Officers about this award and how well “his wife can drive a ship.” If they only knew how many years ago that was! I completed a lateral transfer to the METOC community in 2001 and took orders to a small command in Monterey, Calif. called Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC). At FNMOC, I led a division of Sailors and civilians in the day-to-day operations of our supercomputing center and had a blast. From there, however; I made the difficult decision to leave the Naval Service in 2003 to pursue my passion for nutrition, health and wellness.
In 2004, Dave and I moved to Hawaii where he did his Department Head tours and I was able to earn my master’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in addition to a certificate of completion for the Didactic Program in Dietetics. The Navy then took us to Yokosuka, Japan where I worked as a nutritionist for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children Overseas (WIC). Here my passion for child nutrition programs was born which continued on our next tour in the Washington D.C. area while Dave was stationed at the Pentagon.
Three years in D.C. and a dietetic internship through Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center opened my eyes to the world of public policy and advocacy and allowed me the opportunity to work as a nutrition consultant for various corporate wellness programs and a childcare center-based federal Head Start program. The latter was an eye-opening experience into the multi-faceted problem of childhood obesity as I worked directly with the families of children who were overweight or obese.
As we moved back to Hawaii last year and I tried to use my professional experience to fight the childhood obesity epidemic, I felt like I didn’t really have a voice or at least that it wasn’t being heard. I learned of the Mrs. Hawaii pageant through a neighbor (and fellow Navy spouse) and after a little research on the pageant itself and a lot of conversations with Dave and my close friends here in Hawaii, I stepped out of my comfort zone and entered the pageant! The rest is history.
I was shocked when I won and was overwhelmed with the amazing support from the military spouses in Hawaii who came out in force to cheer me on the night of the pageant. I definitely had the best cheering section! I really needed that support because Dave was at sea and not present to escort me during the contest. His ship was deployed in support of operational tasking in the Pacific just two weeks before the event and returned two weeks after I had won! I am fortunate to have had amazing military friends/neighbors who stepped in to help out with moral support, childcare, and even an escort the evening of the pageant.
Today I keep busy as a mother of two incredible children (ages 4 and 22 months), a military spouse, Registered Dietitian, and Mrs. Hawaii 2012. Like every tour before this one and like many other military spouses out there, it is a balancing act in which I try to find time to meet the needs of my family, my profession, and the greater community. I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive and loving husband. I also lean on my military “family” often, and try to support them in return in any way I can. I say “no” to events from time to time that interfere with my family obligations and have to prioritize just like everyone else. And lastly, I take time for myself and try to enjoy Hawaii—all the while keeping in mind that this is an extraordinary opportunity and one that is fleeting.
I will be representing Hawaii in the national Mrs. America pageant later this year! The date and location of the pageant has not been announced yet. Go to mrsamerica.com to see the other state winners and to check for the official announcement. To participate in my upcoming benefit 5K run/walk in McGrew Point, follow my journey, see photos, and receive information on my work in the community, visit facebook.com/mrshawaii2012. Look forward to meeting many of you out in the community!