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Heading to Miss Arkansas

Edith Garcia, Staff Writer

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Beauty pageants attract more than 2.5 million girls every year in the U.S., but only a few can hold prestigious titles. As “Miss Spirit of Arkansas,” senior Jessica Miller plans to participate in the Miss Arkansas pageant and compete for the title of Miss Arkansas 2017.

“My instant reaction was shock and almost disbelief,” Miller said. “Miss Spirit of Arkansas was only my 2nd Miss Arkansas Preliminary [pageant]. After I won the Overall Lifestyle & Fitness Active Wear Award and the Overall Talent Award, I knew I had placed in the top five, but wasn’t expecting to leave with a title when I signed up for the pageant.”

For many students, pageants are nothing more than a superficial beauty competition, but to Miller, pageants are hard work, determination and a strict routine.

“Preparation for a pageant, especially in a system as prestigious as Miss America, is crucial,” Miller said. “I attend weekly and bi-weekly interview lessons, stay up-to-date on current events, talent rehearsals, dress fittings, volunteer hours, [and follow] a strict diet and workout plan.”

Throughout her years in pageant participation, Miller has participated in three state pageants and 12 preliminary pageants.
“I won several awards in my past three years of competing at Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen (MAOT),” Miller said. “I’m most proud of my first year, Non-Finalist Talent Award and then two years of making the top 10 at MAOT, along with the Spirit of the Pageant, Photogenic and Arrival Awards.”

Soon after the suicide of Miller’s stepbrother’s father, her interest in pageants sparked in order to somehow make a difference throughout her community by spreading suicide awareness.
“The tragedy that struck my family was then my inspiration to become involved in an organization that has been known to give opportunities in their community,” Miller said. “I entered my first MAOT preliminary, and then I was on my way to state in 2014.”

Beauty and talent are not the only factors for winning pageants, and Miller is well-aware of the important opportunities pageants can bring about.
“My ultimate pageant dream is not to achieve the highest title of Miss America, but to leave a legacy of spreading awareness about suicide and release the stigma of those who struggle with mental illness,” Miller said. “While the Miss America Organization is known for its generous scholarships, I hope to compete long enough to where I earn many scholarships that allow me to attend school debt-free.”

Miller believes her family is the support system behind her platform that has ultimately been the reason she started competing in pageants.

“My stepmom has supported me every step of the way, from doing my hair and makeup, perfecting my talent routine and keeping me responsible with all of my duties,” Miller said. “My dad and two younger brothers have attended every pageant I have been in and have yet to complain. My friends understand how important it is to me and continue to support me in pursuing my passion.”

Even though the Miss America Organization only allows women to participate until age 24, Miller plans to participate until she ages out.
“The title of Miss Arkansas means strength, perseverance and determination,” Miller said. “Miss Arkansas is a role model. She is kind, selfless, and inspiring. She is everything that I want to be.”

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