Crowned Miss Arizona earlier this year, Candace Kanavel will be the first police officer to compete in the Miss USA Pageant when she participates in the event Friday.
Kanavel, 27, works as a SWAT hostage negotiator with the Tempe Police Department. On the surface, pageant participant and police officer seem like very different roles. But Kanavel says there is a lot of overlap that might not seem obvious.
"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," she told KNXV-TV. "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."
Breaking traditional perceptions and eliminating stereotypes is behind the #YesSheCan campaign she has started. The platform is aimed at making women "feel empowered, inspired, and armed with confidence," according to its Instagram feed.
"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,” said Kanavel. “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.”
Kanavel also hopes that she can use this exposure to show a different side of policing.
"I want to give people who aren't in law enforcement a little insight into what officers are like,” she said. “We have hobbies, we have families, we have all these different things outside of what we do for a living."
The Miss USA Pageant airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time on The CW.