10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Dr. Kezia Lilly, 39

Currently the Dean of Mercy College of Nursing & Health Sciences of SBU through 5/31/18, as of 6/1/18 the Dean of the Masters in Healthcare Administration Program at Chamberlain University
Charity: Harmony House

The woman who receives the most votes during online voting and has the biggest crowd at the event will be able to donate a portion of the Indulge event ticket proceeds to her charity. The winner will be announced during Indulge.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you?
My local 417-land charity of choice is Harmony House. Dr. Cindy Todd first introduced me to Harmony House as a result of her doctorate program. Cindy’s project made me aware that domestic abuse incidences are the highest in Greene County, Missouri. As a result of Cindy, our college, Mercy College of Nursing & Health Sciences of SBU became a strong advocate of Harmony House and we continue to support Harmony House each year. 

Not only do I support Harmony House on a professional level but I believe in this organization on a personal level. I have personally witnessed domestic abuse in one that was near and dear to my heart. She was beautiful inside and out. She stayed in a relationship for years in which she endured mental abuse that I believe not only impacted her self-confidence but impacted her ability to cope. This relationship caused her to go into a path of self-destruction. She finally left him but the mental abuse did not stop there, it continued. Though many people believe that physical abuse is the only form of abuse, I’ve seen first-hand the impact of what mental abuse did to a beautiful soul. I will continue to be a supporter of Harmony House and all those impacted by domestic abuse. I will advocate for women that are in abusive relationships and encourage them to seek help or a better life before they allow someone to control their life. 

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?
In nursing school I failed my third semester and was told by a nursing instructor I would never be a nurse and that I should drop out. I returned and repeated that semester, went on to receive my RN, then my BSN, two master’s degree, and my doctorate in nursing. This was one of my biggest motivational reasons for going into nursing education. In 2009 I started my first journey in nursing education and this was one of my proudest moments. I wanted to advocate for the underdogs by encouraging them to their maximum potential. I believe that in my career I have modeled servant leadership and I have encouraged others to believe in themselves, fight, and don’t let someone tell them that they can’t achieve something. 

What was one particularly defining moment in your life? A life-changing moment.
The most defining moment in my life was the loss of my beautiful sister, Sarina Davidson on April 2,, 2018. She was a passenger in an auto accident and her wreck happened on my daughter’s 15th birthday. I had to be the one to make her medical decisions meaning I was that one that decided to shut off her life support. As a nurse I knew she had no chance of recovery but as her sister I wanted to do everything I could to save her. I watched the monitor as her heart rate went from 90s, 40s, to 20s to flat lined. My heart raced as her heart stopped. I wanted to start doing CPR. As a nurse, I was trained to save lives yet it took every power of my being to let her go. She was my best friend and three years older than me. So many people thought we could pass for twins and as a child I adored her and I always wanted to be as beautiful as she was. There were so many occasions she would do my hair or help me to feel beautiful, not only as a child but as an adult. She was always there for me through good times and bad yet she always said I was the strong sister. The things she endured in life are things I am not sure I would have been strong enough to endure. I’m still trying to find my new norm without her but losing her has forever changed my life. Her death has brought family together and made me see life in a whole new perspective. I now see beauty from a new light. I am so honored to have had her in my life and a part of her will live on through me forever. I hope to honor her beauty through my own.   

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?
Focus on her inner beauty. Love yourself and don’t let others impact how you feel. More than ever we need to be positive role models with young girls about beauty and body image. Social media filters and unrealistic touchups of individuals creates a level of pressure for young girls. I tell both of my daughters every day how beautiful they are by their smile, their actions, or by their accomplishments. I want my daughters to feel beautiful but I don’t want them to base their self-worth on this.  I would encourage them to be kind, gracious, and humble, provide compliments and not criticism. Tell them that they look great because they are great. Help them to find that inner beauty on the outside and let it shine. Tell them they are beautiful because of who they are, not who they are because they are beautiful.

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on September 13 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.