Baby Boomer Sharon Burch: Running for Ms. Senior DC taught me ‘not to give up’ on dreams
Getting older is inevitable, but the process does not always carry with it a loss of vitality. For many of the baby boomer generation, remaining young and enjoying life can involve trying a new career path, starting a business, or something as simple as taking up a hobby. That was the case for Sharon Burch, a contestant in this year’s Ms. Senior DC Pageant.
Life does not always turn out as planned, as Burch can attest. Born and raised in Washington D.C., she attended Knoxville College in Tennessee, Strayer University and Catholic University, making the Dean’s List at the latter two. She took a 9-5 job as an office manager, but found that particular career path did not suit her. She gained experience in college as a photographer and decided to pursue that field instead. “My mom said, ‘Don’t do it; don’t you give up that job!’” Burch says, recalling the memory with amusement. “But I did it, I went out on faith, and I haven’t looked back since.”
She started her own business, SABB Photography Studio, an experience which she says has been gratifying. “It’s very rewarding to feel that you’re going to leave something,” she says regarding viewing her work in strangers’ homes. “You know how it is, when you see a picture, and it createsconversation.” Her studio provides photography for two local school yearbooks at both Eastern Senior High and Anacostia Senior High. Her work has also allowed her to photograph notable figures such as former President Bill Clinton, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Robert Johnson.
In addition to her regularengagements, Burch enjoys contributing her free time to helping others in the D.C. metro community. She donates time to the Hyde-Addison Elementary School every fall for a spooky photo booth. She also helps would-be photographers who visit her studio. “I try to teach them not to give up on their dream,” she says. “…To persevere, and not think that they can’t succeed. I try to push that idea that if it’s humanly possible, if someone can do it, then why not you?”
Burch is currently involved in the Ms. Senior DC Pageant. “This is something that’s outside of my norm, but I’m pushing myself to do this and experience the ride. It’s exciting. Whether I win or lose, it’s just a great adventure,” she says. Like the Miss America Pageant and other local pageants, contestants from the District have the opportunity to go on to the national pageant, which is held in October.
In recent years, she has reduced her workload in order to devote more time to her family and grandchildren. “We did an excellent job, me and my husband…We raised two wonderful kids and now we have two wonderful grandchildren. Keeping my family together and loving them; they’re my greatest achievements.”
With all she has done in her life, Burch appears younger than her years. Her secret, she says, is finding something to be passionate about. “If you’re happy with what you do it shows on your face, in your body, the way you act, the way you carry yourself, all of it. And that’s another thing I try to instill in the kids that come through: find your passion. And if you do that, then you should feed it.” While the process of abandoning a career path to take up another may seem a daunting one, for Sharon Burch, it was worth it.