Megan Bennett recently finished recording her first EP album and is hoping to, within three years, pursue a full-time career in music. For some, this may seem like a far-fetched dream, but Bennett is confident in herself. That confidence, she says, was instilled in her through an unlikely activity: competing in pageants.
Bennett is Miss Kansas 2004 and competed in the Miss America Pageant in 2005. She claims her service as Miss Kansas gave her the experience she needed to follow her dreams and reach for her aspirations.
“You grow up more that year (as Miss Kansas) than you do the 20 years before it,” Bennett said.
The self-growth Bennett achieved is what local Miss Jayhawk Organization titleholders Sommer Camp, Miss Douglas County-Jayhawk 2012, and Megan Bancroft, Miss Lawrence-Jayhawk 2012, are hoping to experience as they prepare to compete in the Miss Kansas 2012 Pageant June 7-9 in Pratt.
“The Miss America Organization and pageants encompass so many areas of each woman’s life. ... There are so many aspects that each girl is competing with, it makes you polish yourself as an overall person,” Camp said.
The women competing in the Miss Kansas Pageant are judged in five categories: talent, fitness and lifestyle, interview, evening wear and on-stage question. Bancroft and Camp have been preparing for the competition since winning their respective titles, and both plan to ramp up their workouts, and talent and interview practices the week of the competition to be sure they’re ready.
“Every day I did something to help me prepare,” Bennett said. “It is something you make a part of your life every day if you want to make an impact.”
An important part of competing in Miss Kansas and Miss America Pageants is for the titleholders to present a philanthropic platform they support. Bancroft’s platform is The Kind Campaign, which combats girl-on-girl crime or bullying, and Camp’s platform is respect. Both women promote their platforms to local schools as well as community organizations.
Bancroft recently partnered with Strong Girls, an after-school program in Lawrence that has girls pledge to always try their hardest and to treat everyone with kindness and respect, and was inspired by the girls and women involved in the program.
Bancroft said that the platform each contestant takes is the most important part of her journey to the crown, and that the competition isn’t about the contestants but about how they can make a difference in the lives of others.
While Bancroft, Camp and other titleholders work to make a difference for others, their local pageant organizations and the Miss Kansas and Miss America organizations are working to make a difference for the pageant contestants. The world’s largest scholarship assistance provider for young women is the Miss America Organization. Those scholarships give the women another incentive to compete in the pageants.
“Sometimes women have big dreams and there’s limitation, but this helps expand opportunities,” the Miss Jayhawk Organization President Barbara Bushell said.
Camp and Bancroft are thankful for the doors that have opened for them through the pageant world, but both women are more concerned not with what the Miss Kansas Organization can do for them, but what they can do for others through the organization.
“I believe in what it represents, and I’ve seen firsthand what it can do for a life,” Bancroft said.