For most of us, it takes at least a few decades to self-actualize and make an impact in the world.
For some, like Rowan College at Burlington County student Faith Pierrecharles, it happens much sooner.
Pierrecharles founded a charity to help disadvantaged youth in Haiti, spearheaded an initiative to raise money for breast cancer research —and was crowned National American Miss Teen all before the age of 20.
Pierrecharles, who is resident of Willingboro and a graduate of Willingboro High School, grew up surrounded by strong female role models with a penchant for fashion and beauty. Her mother, a seamstress, created unique pieces for her, while her sister, an event coordinator, hosted annual fashion shows in which Faith participated since she was six.
“I was already into modeling when I received a letter from National American Miss to head out to an open call and see what the organization is all about,” Pierrecharles said. “Going to the open call opened up my eyes to what pageantry was truly all about. This organization was all about women’s empowerment and teaching young girls lifelong skills that can set them up for their future. After that, I decided to enter the pageant, and I am so glad that I did.”
Her decision to enter paid off when she was crowned 2019-20 National American Miss Teen on Dec. 1, 2019, in Anaheim, California. She said this was a surreal moment for her, as she had been competing since 2007. The National American Miss Pageant system is the largest in the nation. Their focus is to create future leaders and equip them with real-world skills.
“A dream 12 years in the making finally came true. I was feeling extremely blessed to be able to represent teens across the country,” she said.
Regarding her philanthropic efforts, Pierrecharles, a first-generation Haitian American, has visited Haiti on several occasions and feels humbled by her experiences there. In fact, she started the Gotta Have Faith Foundation which delivers backpacks, clothing and school supplies to children in need in Haiti.
“I didn’t grow up in Haiti, but both of my parents did. Although it is true what you see on television about homelessness and hunger in Haiti, the people still work hard and the kids still take their education seriously,” the RCBC student said. “I was shocked by the number of students that came just to say thank you for the supplies. They were all full of energy and just so happy. You would have never thought they were living with so little. That experience changed my outlook on life forever.”
Pierrecharles also raised funds for a cause that hit close to home when a good friend lost her mother to breast cancer. At just 13-years-old, she organized the Pink and Glitter Fashion Show which invites participants nationwide to showcase the latest designs while educating them about breast cancer. All proceeds from the show are donated to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
“Seeing the toll breast cancer took on her family and mine as well, I wanted to take the pain and turn it into a purpose,” she recalled.
Pierrecharles is currently pursuing a degree in communications and plans to continue her studies in broadcast journalism, as she hopes to someday become a news anchor or media correspondent. In her spare time, she is a lifestyle and beauty YouTube video blogger, model and makeup artist.