Interview with Christal O’Neill

Christal O’Neill, who graduated from Dora High School, left her mark on our school and Walker County. She is a former Miss Dora High that went on to win Miss Walker County. Christal has not slowed down since graduating from Dora. Bobbye Wade, the Dora High School Alumni Association president caught up with Christal this past week and interviewed her for the website.

Q: When did you start to school at DHS?
A: I went to T.S. Boyd Elementary and started freshman year at DHS in 1992 graduating in 1996.

Q: What was some of your most outstanding memories at Dora? Good? Bad? Embarrassing? Funny?
A: Good: Hanging out in Vonda Beaty’s office, LUNCH, having the honor to be class favorite 3 years in a row, being crowned Miss DHS
Bad: deaths, riot, mandatory Saturday school, no gym-with pep rallies held outside
Funny: having to sit in the corner in physical science with Coach Griffin b/c I talked too much and when he put me in the corner I still got in trouble for turning around to talk to my friends, singing “Hey Mickey” to Mickey Beaty for extra points in Chemistry.

Q: What or who at DHS most influenced your life?
A: Mrs. Beaty – she was always there to offer advice and encouragement or just to listen, no matter what I was going through.

Q: Who if anyone gave you a leg up?
A: I have several people in my life that have always been there for me, the first of which being my family. I have 5 brothers and sisters and wonderful parents who have always supported and encouraged me in all of my endeavors. Money was tight in our family but my parents always made sure that I had everything I needed and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I also owe a lot to Minee McCrary and Shondra Chance. I started working for Shondra at ShowStoppers Dance Co when I was 15 years old. Dancing was something that I loved and having the opportunity to teach was amazing. I also worked for Minee at what started out as the Dawghouse Deli and became Minee’s Place. They not only gave me jobs and the chance to earn extra money but I believe having something to do with my time, especially something that I enjoyed, kept me motivated and “out of trouble.” They were like my second family and I owe them more than I could ever repay.

Q: Give history of how you became Miss Dora and Miss Walker County. What influence did this have on your life?
A: I was never interested in pageants because I didn’t see myself as the “beauty queen” type. What intrigued me about Miss Dora High was that it wasn’t just a beauty pageant but it offered an opportunity for me to perform. Dancing was something I had done since I was 2 years old and was such a big part of my life but because it wasn’t a school activity, a lot of my school friends had never seen me perform. Miss DHS (11th grade) was the first pageant I had ever been in and I placed 1st alternate. I had such a good time that doing it again in the 12th grade was even more exciting. I wanted to do well but there were so many talented girls I never really expected to win – it was a total shock. I truly believe that my interview is what won it for me. I answered all the questions with total honesty and was “just myself” and the judges told me that they appreciated that. I think often times girls go into it thinking that they have to be something they aren’t or say the things they think they are supposed to say and it comes across as being fake. Being crowned Miss Dora High was a great honor and something that I will cherish throughout my entire life. It gave me confidence in myself and what I could achieve. I also went on to be crowned Miss Walker County and had the opportunity to be a part of the Miss Alabama Pageant. Being crowned Miss Walker County was much like being crowned Miss DHS but I must say that taking part in the Miss Alabama Pageant was quite a different story. I met several amazing girls who were utilizing their talents to do wonderful things and make a difference. However, I have several regrets about my involvement in this pageant. Having not had much experience in pageants and realizing the caliber of this one in particular, I let myself get caught up in being what everyone else wanted me to be. I listened to what others said that I should wear, the kind of dance I should do, and even the way that I should wear my hair. By the end of the pageant, I didn’t feel like myself at all and I realized that I am much better at being myself than trying to be what everybody else thinks that I should be. I was not upset in the least about not winning but what did upset me was that I could not look back and say that I did the best that I could do or that I was proud of my performance. My advice to anyone going through it is not to be concerned about anything except being true to yourself! This is a lesson that I have carried with me from that point on and now, regardless of the situation, I will only take part in things that I can be proud of.

Q: What is your avocation? How have you prepared for your future?
A: I am currently enrolled in Auburn University School of Pharmacy and will graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May of 2003. I am residing in Tuscaloosa where I am completing my last year of pharmacy rotations most of which have been at DCH Regional Medical Center. I have been accepted into the primary care residency program at the VA in Tuscaloosa. After completing this one-year residency, I plan to pursue a career in the Birmingham area.

I am completely in awe of all the blessings God has given me and I strive to use these blessings and talents to glorify Him. The joy of receiving a pageant crown or a prestigious degree does not even come close to the joy that God can bring into your life and without Him, none of it means anything.

Leave a Reply