In July, Doctor of Occupational Therapy alumna Dr. Candice Freeman represented the state of Utah and competed with roughly 65 other delegates from all over the United States in the national Miss Plus America competition in Atlanta, GA. She was one of 24 other women in the “Ms.” category, and placed second runner up in her division. Dr. Freeman currently resides in Texas, but since she attended RMUoHP in 2013, she was eligible to represent Utah. She received the Ms. Utah title just a few weeks prior to the national competition.
For the competition, the top five competitors from each division are selected from panel interview (50%), elegant pant wear (25%) and evening gown (25%). For the finals, the process begins again to determine the winner for each category.
Although Dr. Freeman is now a seasoned veteran of the Miss Plus America pageant and its affiliated state competitions, it wasn’t until the past 7 years or so that she learned about the organization.
“I got into plus-sized pageantry by accident,” Dr. Freeman said. After undergoing weight loss surgery in 2008, Dr. Freeman started plus-sized modeling and stumbled across the Miss Plus America pageant searching for modeling opportunities. She read the qualifications for competing, and realized that it was something she could get involved in and use as a platform for her passion as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist.
“We have to have a platform that we’re passionate

“We have to have a platform that we’re passionate about,” Dr. Freeman said about the competition requirements, “so I created my own platform: it’s called “Independent U– Promoting the independence of children with disabilities.” Dr. Freeman works with children with all types of disabilities and has noticed that when these children are out in the community, people often stare or whisper about the child with the disability. Her platform focuses on combating the incorrect stigmas associated with these children, and advocating for their rights to feel connected with the community.
“Just because a child is in a wheelchair, or [is plagued with some other disability. It is easy to] think they are limited by their condition, but they are not. They have the same dreams, hopes and aspirations as any other child would,” Dr. Freeman said.
Dr. Freeman also works with several local nonprofits, hospitals and service organizations to fund-raise and raise awareness about children with special needs.
“My whole platform is dedicated to Occupational Therapy, to help enhance the lives of families and children.” Dr. Freeman said. “If I had not become an OT or had not gone on to get my doctorate, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with my platform.”
Dr. Freeman noted that RMUoHP’s OTD program was challenging and thorough. She was able to really hone her clinical reasoning skills and provide better clinical interventions for the children she serves.
Along with being a great platform for Dr. Freeman to promote her passions, she really enjoys the other elements of the pageant as well. “I really fell in love with it because as an OT, we’re always dressed down, and so pageantry provides the opportunity to dress up!” Dr. Freeman said. This was Dr. Freeman’s third year competing on the national level. She placed third runner up in the 2010 pageant again as Ms. Texas, and competed again in 2013 before placing second runner up this year as Ms. Utah. Dr. Freeman makes appearances as Ms. Utah and assists with fundraising as a part of her platform outside of the competition. She may be reached at [email protected].