Miss East King County Brings Opportunity for Local Women

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Tawny Fajardo, Hayley McJunkin, Ka Man Lee, Shannon Malnes, Robyn Olson, Ashley Cranston. Photo by Brad Cole Photography

Bringing new scholarship opportunities to the Eastside, Miss East King County is debuting this year as a part of the Miss Washington and Miss America Pageant circuit. The scholarship pageant offers an opportunity for young women to hone their leadership skills, participate in service and show off their personality in the fun community event. Participants are encouraged to develop social awareness and effect change in their community and beyond.

“We hope we can represent the Eastside community as more than just Seattle,” explained Larissa Long, the executive director and president of the new program.

The Miss East King County program consists of a series of required events and optional workshops, all designed to help develop real-world charitable skills and get contestants pageant ready. Required events include the pageant and all related interviews and rehearsals. The workshops cover a wide range of skills and materials, including nutrition and fitness, managing finances, networking, technology and more.

“The pageant is literally about education from every angle.” Long asserted, addressing the courses and scholarships offered throughout the program. “Every girl who participates gets a scholarship. Right now we have eight scholarships to offer on top of those given to the winners.”

As a nonprofit program, Miss East King County does not require an entry fee, and is completely volunteer run. All participants are asked to raise a minimum of $100 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, which partners with the Miss America Organization. Along with this charitable contribution, women are asked to develop a platform surrounding a social issue that they wish to address.

The official pageant will have five phases — private interview, talent, swimsuit, evening wear and on stage questions. Each phase is intended to strengthen and test women’s abilities in leadership, health, service, talent, and other applicable skills.

“The pageant allows girls to create an identity for themselves.” Said Mandy Schendel, former Miss Washington 2012 winner and Miss America competitor. “There’s so much beauty these girls can bring to the world, regardless of the outcome of the pageant.”

For it’s debut this spring, Miss East King County currently has eight contestants, and is looking to expand. Along with new participants, the pageant is also seeking community sponsors to help develop their scholarship fund and pay for the cost of the program. Currently the pageant is partnered with Microsoft, Seattle Fashion Week and Issaquah Fitness. These partnerships are essential to the program, helping the pageant to integrate into the area and collaborate in their efforts toward community betterment.

Schendel expressed her excitement about the new program, and its ability to strengthen both the participants and the community as a whole. For her, Miss East King County serves to highlight the uniqueness of the Eastside by giving attention to local business and education efforts in the area.

Although the pageant is off to a strong start, Long explains that the program is always seeking more participants, from all walks of life. “We had a workshop with a Microsoft store, and afterward one of the employees joined as a contestant. All we are looking for is more contestants and scholarships.”

Interested in competing? The pageant is seeking high school graduates between 17 and 24 years old. Women must be able to meet the requirements set our by the Miss America Organization. In addition, all participants must be able to attend all required events. The deadline to register is March 7.

The Miss East King County Pageant will be held at the Bellevue Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 29 at 3 p.m. The initial interview will be held a day prior to the pageant, on Saturday, March 28 at 1 p.m.

The cost for attendees is $25 for general admission, $50 for upgraded tickets and $100 for VIP. For more information regarding sponsorship, participation, or event details please visit online.

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