Local Woman Wins Pageant in Japan

This is a story I wrote the The Gazette. I’m posting it because the woman is from my hometown and went to my High School. Plus, she’s a pretty cool chick! Enjoy!

Heather Campbell-Fife, a 1988 graduate of Shenendehowa High School, is using her newly found celebrity to help promote friendly relations between the United States and Japan as well as to promote scholarship opportunities and community service.

Campbell-Fife lives at Yokota Air Base, just outside of Tokyo, Japan, with her husband, Maj. Kurt Fife, an Air Force C-130 pilot. There she won her first-ever pageant title that will allow her to work as a volunteer and role model in the Yokota community.

The pageant is called “Mrs. Yokota” and was held on May 2.

The contest serves to provide quality events to the Yokota community as well as to raise money for educational scholarships for married women stationed at the Air Base. The organization was founded by former Miss New Orleans Jenepher Esser and is a nonprofit that focuses on community service.

The contestants compete in a Miss America-style pageant, with dance and fashion numbers, and are judged on a formal interview, physical fitness, and evening gown. The winner should either be pursuing educational goals or be someone who values them. “Heather Fife fits that bill,” said Esser.

Campbell-Fife has been in Japan since November and decided to enter the pageant to give her something to focus on while her husband was deployed. Her friend offered to babysit her three children, and she began making preparations for the contest.

“I got my hair and nails done, a spray tan, eyelash extensions and spent a lot of time online trying to find the perfect outfits for each segment of the pageant,” Campbell-Fife said via e-mail. “I also had to hone my interview skills for the judges.”

Campbell-Fife, whose parents, retired Naval Cmdr. H.J. Campbell and his wife Carol, still live in Clifton Park, didn’t expect to win.

“I am awarding my $1,000 scholarship prize to my daughters,” Campbell-Fife said. “I have always taught my girls that although they are beautiful, that doesn’t mean a thing unless they are kind and smart as well. Since the girls got to see the physical transformation, it was important that I talk with them about the scholarship aspect of the pageant, too.”

Campbell-Fife has a long history of community service. At only 39 years old she’s been in, out and surrounded by the Air Force for her entire adult life.

After graduating from high school she stayed in the area, attending the University at Albany and receiving a BA in history and Spanish. She then enlisted in the Air Force where she served as a Bulgarian linguist, translating Bulgarian into English for the Air Force. After her stint in the Air Force she went back to UAlbany for a BS in psychology and became an ROTC officer. She then went back to the Air Force as an officer and a special agent in the Office of Special Investigations and got her master’s degree in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., where she met and married her husband, an Air Force Academy graduate. She left the Air Force for a second time when she was pregnant with her first child and has been a stay-at-home mom and professional volunteer ever since.

Campbell-Fife will reign as Mrs. Yokota for one year and will visit Japanese elementary schools, volunteer at events like the Special Olympics, and attend a Japan/American Friendship Festival, which the Mrs. Yokota program organizes. She will also organize fund raising events to help support the future of the Mrs. Yokota program.

“I want to raise money for, and awareness of, the organization,” she said. “I also want to participate in on-base and Japanese activities and serve as a volunteer and role model for both communities.”

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