TEMPE, Arizona -- The first police officer to compete for Miss USA will represent Arizona on national TV on September 29.
Officer Candace Kanavel represents Arizona's community daily as she serves as a Tempe Police Officer.
On a mission to crush stereotypes, Officer Kanavel is no stranger to pressure — she works as a hostage negotiator on the SWAT team.
"A lot of the qualities that I have to have as an officer translate directly to my role as Miss Arizona USA and vice versa. I have to be a really good communicator. I have to be a leader. I have to be able to be flexible with whatever's going on and work through different situations," said Officer Kanavel.
Trained in crisis intervention management, she said her career choice helped to prepare her for the high-stakes national pageant competition.
"When I'm in my police uniform, I'm empowered to help people," Officer Kanavel said. "And when I'm in my sash and crown, I'm empowered to help people. And so I'm doing the same job, just in a different uniform."
Defying stereotypes, while helping other women feel strong, safe, and confident is all part of her platform, titled #YesSheCan.
"I started Yes She Can because of my own story, but also feeling like people constantly look at me as a very feminine woman and discount what I may be capable of," Officer Kanavel said. "I know that happens to so many women, especially being in my line of work as a police officer. I think people see femininity as weakness, and it's not."
At 27 years old, the proud Japanese-American graduated from Arizona State University. A self-proclaimed advocate for change, Officer Kanaval is also focused on bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community.
"I want to give people who aren't in law enforcement a little insight into what officers are like," Officer Kanavel said. "We have hobbies, we have families, we have all these different things outside of what we do for a living."
The woman crowned Miss USA will represent the United States at Miss Universe.
Right now, you can help Officer Candace Kanavel before the nationally televised pageant by placing your $2 vote in the pageant's online People Choice competition. The winner will be guaranteed a spot as a semi-finalist at Miss USA.
You can follow Officer Kanavel's journey through her Instagram page.
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