Scholarships open doors to educational opportunities for women in 2021 Miss Kansas Competition

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
The top five Social Impact Initiative finalists for the 2021 Miss Kansas Competition were announced Wednesday morning at a welcome ceremony in Pratt. In order of announcement (from right) were Taylor Clark, Miss Augusta (from St. John), Candace Sweetwood, Miss Chisholm Trail (from Arkansas City), Courtney Wages, Miss Emerald City (from Wichita), Paige Harding, Miss Heart of Kansas (from Dodge City) and Sierra Marie Bonn (Miss Southwest (from El Dorado).

Miss Kansas 2021 activities got underway Wednesday morning, July 7 with a welcome ceremony at Carpenter Auditorium for 23 candidates, parents, family members, supportive cast crew and volunteers at Pratt Community College in Pratt.

The top five finalists for Social Impact Initiatives were announced as well as pep talks given, special instructions and scheduling guidelines passed along, but it was the amount of in-kind donations and scholarship offerings listed that brought into focus the real meaning of what the Miss Kansas Competition can do for young women.

"We have $6M in-kind donations and scholarship awards to give out this year to our Miss Kansas girls," said Sue Givens, Scholarship and Awards Chairperson and Miss Kansas Organization Chair of the Board. "Make no mistake there is beauty and there is pageantry involved here, but the real reason we are here is to empower women to be their best. We are so thankful for all our sponsors who are making this possible."

Givens outlined the more than $57,000 in scholarships that will be given throughout the three days of Miss Kansas 2021 competition July 8, 9 and 10, with $10,000 going to the new Miss Kansas, $4,000 to the first runner-up, $2,500 to the second runner-up, $2,250 to the third runner-up, $2,000 to fourth place, $1,750 to semi-finalists and $1,500 to 12 non-finalists. There were additional amounts including $500 to the top Children's Miracle Network fundraiser as well as more awards to preliminary talent and on-stage winners.

"New this year is a Mama Pam Rookie of the Year award scholarship for $500," Givens said.

The rookie award is intended to embody the heart of what made Mama Pam, Pam Matlock, tick as she assisted hundreds of Miss Kansas candidates over a period of 30 years as a prep guru, traveling companion, state and local volunteer, stylist and all-around cheerleader.

"We want to reward first-time candidates and help them with school costs while they commit their efforts to personal growth and development as they compete in the Miss Kansas Scholarship Organization," Givens said.

Miss Kansas 2021 contestants applaud Sue Givens, local volunteer, at a welcoming ceremony on Wednesday in Pratt.

The five Social Impact Initiative finalists named Wednesday - Taylor Clark, Miss Augusta (from St. John), Candace Sweetwood, Miss Chisholm Trail (from Arkansas City), Courtney Wages, Miss Emerald City (from Wichita), Paige Harding, Miss Heart of Kansas (from Dodge City) and Sierra Marie Bonn (Miss Southwest (from El Dorado) - will receive their awards according to placement on Friday, during the second night of preliminaries for the Miss Kansas 2021 Competition. First place in that catagory will receive $2,500, second $1,500, $500 for the other three finalists.

Hannah Wagner, former 2015 Miss Kansas title holder and current Miss Kansas Competition Show Producer, told the 23 candidates gathered for the 2021 welcome ceremony Wednesday that this year they would have to work hard and buckle down to put on a great performance as a show of gratitude for the many sponsors and donors who make the scholarship program possible.

"Make no mistake," Wagner said. "Understand how fortunate you are to be here with an incredible state organization like we have here in Kansas. The support here in Pratt is phenomenal."