Elyse Umemoto is an outstanding young woman and has been a brilliant representative for the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization. We continue to be very proud of her. She is known for her raucous sense of humor and clowning around. It is unfortunate that her behavior in unguarded moments has attracted attention.
The Miss Washington Scholarship Organization is embarrassed by the pictures you have seen. We do not condone the behaviors depicted in these photos. However, there will be no discipline for Elyse based on the behavior evidenced in the photos. None of them depict illegal behavior or cross a line that cannot be uncrossed. Elyse feels very bad about how this attention affects her reputation and that of our organization. We will treat this as a growth opportunity, both for Elyse and for our other contestants, one of whom will soon be Elyse's successor. The lesson will be that if you choose to appear to challenge the boundaries of good taste you better be sure that the environment is safe. Photographs, like words, can be taken out of context, and once a photograph is recorded it is available forever and there is no way to control its distribution. Nobody goes through life without occasionally letting their guard down and acting foolishly. Title holders will be reminded that they are public figures and role models whose lives will be scrutinized, especially by those who take pleasure in exposing imperfections, however slight. Elyse will not be the last young person whose clowning behaviors will give the wrong impression to people who do not know her. We can only work toward ensuring that the attention these pictures have generated will be a cautionary tale for all of the title holders in our organization.
We consider mentoring the young women in our program to be one of our primary responsibilities. It is a difficult lesson for some young people to learn that their fun-loving behavior before friends can be used against them. When trust is violated the pain is deep. We do not yet know which of her friends, or former friends, may have betrayed her by posting these photographs. All we know for certain is that they were posted by someone who is bent on damaging the image of an amazing young woman.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, this seems to be much ado about nothing. Many young people clown around and act silly in private in ways that they would never consider in public arenas. We would hope that they could always trust their friends, but the realities of human nature teach us that trust is hard to come by.
I can understand the interest of the media in pursuing these photographs to see if there is a story of substance associated with them. It would be our hope that the media would understand that there is no deeper story, unless it is one of betrayal and the anguish that it brings. The MWSO and Elyse will hold our heads high and weather whatever comes, even though this incident should not register a blip on the Richter scale. We will trust the legitimate media to be skilled enough at their jobs to realize that there is no story here and move on to real news that matters to the public welfare.
"Leadership Through Scholarship"
Michael R. "Mike" Miller
MWSO Executive Field Director