Great Bend Middle School student Laura Daniel was crowned America’s U.S. Miss Kansas this past weekend in Dallas. She will advance to the America’s U.S. Miss Scholarship program finals July 5-9 in Orlando, Fla.
Laura, 14, got interested in scholarship pageants last year when the family hairdresser suggested she would be good at it. Her mother, Michelle Daniel, said they learned about Central Kansas Glamour Kids, a traveling pageant group based in Barton County.
Her first pageant was last summer at the Barton County Fair.
“My mom said, ‘let’s try a small one,’” Laura said. She won, which gave her the confidence to attend a bigger pageant at Wichita in December.
At the Wichita pageant she won Grand Supreme in her age group. “Grand Supreme” is second to the top award, “Ultimate Grand Supreme.”
Then, Laura’s hair and make-up person entered her photo from Wichita in the America’s U.S. Miss pageant and that got her a free entry at Dallas. Not all states have a state pageant, but the Texas “Open-State” contest welcomed entrants from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.
Laura’s parents, Mike and Michelle Daniel of Great Bend, and her grandparents, Don and Cathy Schoonover of Larned, accompanied her to Dallas.
She was scored on grades, resume, interview and fun wear. She is contemplating her next step, where 35 percent of her score will be based on her talent.
“I’m planning to either sing or do an original comedy act,” she said. Her comedy act went over well at the county fair and it’s something more unusual than singing, she reasoned.
She also needs to develop a platform and schedule some community service and public appearances.
Laura loves animals and considered a platform against animal cruelty, but decided instead on raising awareness about human trafficking.
“My mom and I watched a movie called ‘8 Days,’” she said. Last November, Golden Belt Cinema 6 sponsored a free showing of that film, which was inspired by actual events of domestic minor sex trafficking in America. “We started talking about it, and how bad it is,” she said.
Laura is excited about the opportunity to attend a national pageant, Michelle Daniel said. “Now she has to do some community service.”
Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes is helping her line up some events, and the city has sponsored the national ad required for the Orlando program.
The America’s U.S. Miss Scholarship Program is designed to recognize and promote the accomplishments and uniqueness of all-American, outstanding young ladies from across the country, sponsors said. Finalists must excel in the areas of academics, volunteer service and self-confidence as they compete for college scholarships.
But Laura said she also enjoys the “Glamour” part of “Central Kansas Glamour Kids.”
“I actually love this part,” she said. “My mom and I don’t get to dress up ... she’ll get to dress me up, do my hair and makeup. I like going out of state and meeting other girls. I’m making a ton of new friends. I enjoy being able to meet girls from out of state, be friends and have fun.”