Every Monday needs a little motivation. If you are someone in a difficult situation right now and you believe there is no hope to overcome – you need to read this story! Stripped of every basic need, Rachel Rakovan had a childhood of extreme poverty and sexual abuse. Raised by a single mother who was badly battered, much of her childhood was spent in fear and on the run. She has lived in 4 states and 8 cities. Risen from terrible circumstances, Rakovan has used her past as leverage to inspire and empower women worldwide.
She is now a State Delegate for the Green Party of Allegheny County, she has held 7 pageant titles, she holds a Masters Degree and was a Biology Professor and Advocate for Clean Water, she’s a TV Host and a mother of two competitive swimmers. Rachel spends her time fundraising for numerous causes and charities and is a partner in a gown store that donates proceeds to rehab water wells around the world and to a nonprofit that helps battered women gain entrepreneurial skills.
As if that’s not impressive enough, she brought clean water to 30,000 people in 2018 alone. She is a 7 time pageant title holder and with the current title of Mrs Pennsylvania Earth United States 2019. She is to compete for the national title of Mrs Earth United States in August.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
When I look in the mirror, I see someone beautiful and strong. I feel blessed to have the face and looks I have been given. I have used my looks in pageantry to raise thousands of dollars for different charities over the years. So, I feel like I have not lived a life in vain and I have used what God has given me for a purpose.
Tell us about your business ventures?
I sought out to become a biology and ecology professor and accomplished that by the time I was 30 years old. I then managed natural healing wellness centers and later started a nonprofit called Eco Action. I shut down my nonprofit a couple years later to start a gown rental business by partnering my Empress Gown Rentals with Allie’s International Designs and I now donate a portion of those proceeds to www.shedeserves.org for battered women or www.georgiebadielfoundation.org to rehab water wells around the world. I am also an energy consultant and I work with seven different energy companies that provide sustainable suppliers and installations of LED and solar. I have a television show that has ran since the summer of 2017 called, ‘Eco Action with Rachel Rakovan.’ It airs on Verizon and Comcast on Monday nights at 10pm in over 90k homes.
How do you believe your childhood and growing up in poverty has helped shape who you are today?
I grew up in a contaminated town with only hand-me-downs and used clothing, while living on welfare. My mother was a single mother and would send us to visit my sister’s father on occasion. She was unaware he was sexually abusing all of us. He did so until I was around 10 years old when our house burned down and there was nowhere he could take us after that. We always say, it was the fire that saved us.
As far as my past influencing my career is concerned, I have spent many years pursuing different pageant titles. I use them to raise money for charities because I had so little when I was a child. My biological father was present until I was around 10 years old as well and he beat my mother daily for many years. I lived my youth in fear and running with my mother. We spent some time in shelters so I donate to She Deserves Nonprofit as an adult. I’m not sure we would have made it without the help of the battered women shelters.
The contamination of my town and the pollutants that caused the variety of cancers amongst my family members and eventually their demise inspired me to have a love for the environment and my desire to understand how toxins affect the body. I was interested in the associative network of causation. Pollution caused cancer which caused addiction to cancer medications which then contributed to the underground drug trade and eventually teenage drug overdose. The radionuclides from the uranium enrichment plant 20 minutes from Portsmouth, Ohio leached into the waterways and contaminated my family. My two year old niece Ingrid Deardoff died of Rhabdoid tumor of the Kidney at 22 months old. So, water has always been my passion. Clean Water truly can save us all. I have brought clean water to over 30,000 people around the world, but it never makes me miss Ingrid any less.
Any big projects coming in the future?
My big project right now is flipping my new home and getting married. I don’t think I can handle anymore events at this moment. Last year, I produced the Pennsylvania Model of the Year Competition and donated proceeds to the Georgie Badiel Foundation. It made pageantry available and affordable for men, women, and single mothers.
I was often excluded from many pageant systems in the past, so I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to compete, regardless of their gender, child, or marital status. I have 7 pageant titles to date and sometimes train other title holders on developing their platforms in their communities. My platform is Sustainability and Natural Healing. I am currently Mrs. Pennsylvania Earth USA 2019 and I hope to win Mrs Earth USA in August in DC!
I am also organizing a Walk for Water in North Park on 7/21/2019 and can be reached at email@example.com for more information.
What do you most love about what you do?
What I love most about what I do is that I am doing exactly what I was called to do by God. I know my purpose and I fulfill it every day. I know it is the right thing to do when I educate people on the environment through my television show and I know it is the right thing to do to give clean water to people that walk for hours to obtain contaminated water. I know I can prevent toxins from entering our waterways by converting people to sustainable energy solutions. I am making fashion and pageantry accessible and sustainable for everyone via my Gown Rentals, regardless of their income. I am listening to God’s calling and I am doing his work every day. It’s my way of showing God that I am grateful for all that I have and who I am.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself continuing this environmental mission throughout my whole life. I won my first environmental award at the age of seven. I fundraised for nonprofits and completed environmental internships during my undergrad and later had my own nonprofit. I can see my road always changing, but it is within the same field. I plan to start writing books on clean water issues across America soon. I also want to write a book on cancer and toxins in America. I just had to get to this point before people would start to listen.
How do you hope to empower women or is there an imprint you’d like to leave?
I hope to empower women by telling them the truth about what happened to me and who I have become. I was abused and impoverished in every way. I had nothing and no one. I feared my mother would die every day and at times we had no heat and no food.
My message is: Do not let your past define you. You are not what happened to you. Your spirit and your drive are greater than events or people in your life. Discover your purpose and continue with it no matter how difficult it may seem. It may take decades. But if you are driven by a purpose to help others, your grit will always get you through the tough times. Do not dwell. Focus on your strengths and seek help when necessary. If I had not sought out help with my math skills, I would not be the Environmental Scientist and Certified Sustainability specialist I am today.
What do you think your ultimate purpose in life is?
My ultimate purpose in life is to help others by educating them about environmental contamination prevention methods (energy and technology) and solutions (natural healing via detoxification). My other purpose is to help other title holders to develop their platforms in their communities through charities and volunteerism. And my final purpose is to continue to bring clean water to people around the world. I believe we can have more than one purpose. I will keep listening to see if God calls me to pursue another.
How do you think we, together, can help women gain confidence and reach their fullest potential?
We can reach our fullest potential in America. We need to reach out to women who are underprivileged and bring them the resources they need to be powerful, so they can make their impact on the world and pursue their calling.
We often fail by speaking words with no action. Leading by example and providing materials on a consistent basis (that is not just on a holiday) is how we change the world and show our daughters how to duplicate these acts. We make it our daily lives and part of who we are. We follow through and seek out opportunities to give.
Confidence is the last thing to come when women are finally given all the basic needs of food, water, and shelter. After these needs are met, we provide safety, hygiene, and education. Empowerment comes from removing judgement, ego, selfishness, and providing love and support in every way. And this is how we all reach our full potential as a species, not just for women, but for all the plants and animals of the Earth which sustain us.
Mrs. Pennsylvania Earth United States 2019 Energy and Sustainability Consultant Biology and Ecology Professor Founder Empress Gown Rentals Producer Pennsylvania Model of the Year Competition Host ‘Eco Action with Rachel Rakovan’