Yates Center native Ashley Pringle never thought she’d compete in a pageant. It actually never once crossed her mind, that is until local pageant director Lance Davis encouraged Pringle to become involved.
With a “nothing to lose” attitude the 16, soon to be 17-year-old, decided to give it a go and she’s glad she did. On June 6 she competed in the Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen competition, the sister program to Miss Kansas, and won the title. With her title she earned around $1,300 in scholarships.
During the last week of July, Pringle jetted to Orlando, Fla., to represent Kansas in the teen competition.
“Nationals was overwhelming but it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Pringle said. “It is very humbling to represent Kansas.”
The days leading up to the competition are what Pringle considers the hardest part.
“A lot of people don’t realize the preparations behind the scenes,” she said. “It’s very difficult to get ready for.”
Competitors must go through a private interview, model evening wear, answer an on-stage question, model fitness instead of swimwear, and perform their talent.
Pringle’s talent? Singing Italian opera. She sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini.
“I never had vocal training before but my mother is an amazing singer and I picked up on it from her,” she said. Pringle is the daughter of John and Haley Pringle.
Fifty-two contestants represented the U.S. (including the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands). Pringle said meeting the young women was very inspiring.
“Meeting everyone was so much fun and surprisingly a lot of us were alike,” she said. “It was great hearing their stories and why they were doing this.”
Each contestant chooses a platform to promote at the competition. Pringle chose a topic that hit home for her, “Protect the Skin You’re In — Skin Cancer Prevention.”
“My grandmother passed away from melanoma,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to suffer from it — that’s why I’m an advocate.”
Pringle wanted to break the stereotype that people have to tan to keep up with beauty standards.
“It was hard going into the pageant with this platform because many women do tan, but I wanted people to know they don’t have to harm their skin to be beautiful,” she said.
Pringle said one in five Americans will develop skin cancer sometime in their lives. She advises people to wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and adequate clothing when out in the sun.
The soon to be Yates Center senior fills her time with various extra curricular activities. She plays volleyball, runs track, will serve as STUCO president, participates in her youth group, FLC, FCA, 4-H and keys. Her college plans are still up in the air but she has looked into attending Kansas State University.
She’s thought about competing in the Miss Kansas competition but said she’d rather focus on her education for now.
“My goal for my senior year is to keep my grades up and be the best I can be,” she said. “Just because I have a lot going on doesn’t mean I’ll slack off.”
She encourages other girls to consider participating in the Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen pageant.
“Growing up I was very shy and I couldn’t speak in public,” she said. “If anyone is interested they can contact me and I encourage everyone to try it and at least give it a chance.”
Although the competition season is winding down and she’s gearing up for school, Pringle said she still plans to advocate for her platform. Although she came home from nationals without a title, she said she’s grateful for her time there.
“It’s about empowering women and the skills learned will last a lifetime,” she said. “I’ve learned how to refine my talent, speaking skills, etiquette and so much more. It is not just a beauty pageant.”
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