MISS INDIANA: CCHS graduate vies for Miss Indiana crown

COLUMBIA CITY — Kara Mawhorter, a Columbia City High School graduate and a senior at Ball State, could soon be named Miss Indiana.Mawhorter has joined 31 young ladies to compete for the title in Zionsville, Ind. The competition begins Wednesday and will continue through Saturday when the crown is awarded.Mawhorter was crowned Miss Huntington earlier this year and now moves on to the state pageant which, if she is named Miss Indiana, will propel her on to the Miss America pageant. As a student at CCHS, Mawhorter won the Junior Miss competition, now known as Miss Distinguished Young Woman, and went on to the state Junior Miss competition where she took first runner-up.“I always knew that this was something I would like do. Every little girl watches pageants on TV and thinks about doing it. Junior Miss helped me with my interview skills which helped me have more confidence to go forward to Miss Indiana,” said Mawhorter.Between her experience with Junior Miss and now preparing for Miss Indiana, Mawhorter said there were some different aspects she had to be ready for.“Junior Miss is based on scholastics. So, having good grades helped me there. With Miss Indiana, I have to compete in the swimsuit category which is new for me. Before, I was more worried about making sure my SAT scores where high because I knew that would show through. But both programs want to know that you are a well rounded person,” said Mawhorter.The competition isn’t just ball gowns and sashes. Mawhorter has had a full schedule in the past weeks to ready herself for the competition. Between mock interviews and voice lessons, she’s been working out as well as shopping for the right outfits and accessories.Mawhorter said, “Shopping is not even fun right now. There have been hours shopping, driving to Chicago and Indianapolis to get the right dress and shoes and the right earrings.”Winning the title of Miss Indiana would mean that Mawhorter’s graduation from Ball State, where she is a speech pathology major, would be delayed. Right now she is on target to graduate a half a year early, but as Miss Indiana, college would have to take a back seat. The benefits out weigh the negative.“I am excited to get to know a lot of the girls. This year I think there is more than half of the girls that are new to Miss Indiana. So, we’ll all get to bond more, I think,” said Mawhorter.The interview portion of any pageant is crucial, but Mawhorter is hoping that her practice pays off. She would like to be asked a question that would relate to her area of study.“My favorite question to be asked is, ‘what do you think has been the greatest invention in the last 50 years.’ I would say cochlear implants. That implants can give someone the gift of hearing is just amazing. Organizations take old hearing aids and take them to other countries to give to people. They have videos of little kids getting these implants and hearing their mother’s voice for the first time. Their faces just light up,” Mawhorter said.Each contestant has an organization to promote. With the influence of her crown, Mawhorter, as Miss Huntington, has had the opportunity to work with Habitat For Humanity and other volunteer organizations. For the Miss Indiana pageant, her platform is a group called “Girls Rock.”Mawhorter said, “Girls Rock promotes high self esteem and positive body image in young girls. I want to really start speaking about it. It’s something I want to take across the state and the U.S.”The program is geared to girls in elementary school. Mawhorter said she felt that this age is targeted by teasing although many other groups wait to address self esteem issues for when girls are in middle school.“Little girls get affected and then they get older and they have low self esteem. I want to target them and let them know they are beautiful,” said Mawhorter.One of the ways Mawhorter teaches young girls to think positive about themselves is to give out little poems expressing how special each person is.“I tell them to put it someplace where they can see it every day because that’s when you start seeing your own beauty instead of people telling you of your beauty. I want them to see it themselves,” Mawhorter said.With her platform focusing on the beauty that is found inside, one would think that being a pageant winner is a bit of a contradiction. But not Mawhorter. She said that pageants are misconstrued and are about more than just outward appearance.“The number one thing I think the pageants do, is they look at the health and well being of the person. They want to see if we are well rounded. It isn’t about what we look like. It’s about doing the most with what you are given. Though it might be seen as a beauty pageant, it is a scholarship program and it helps girls get money they might not get otherwise. That means they are using who they are to better themselves and building a foundation on that,” Mawhorter said.No matter what the results of this week’s competition, Mawhorter went to Zionsville on Sunday with a host of supporters. One of her fans is her mother, Rita Mawhorter.“How neat would it be to say that my daughter is Miss Indiana , but if she’s not, we still love her and we’ll bring her home with us. I am proud of the person she is. So, regardless of if she wins or looses, she’s already won in my book,” said Mawhorter’s mother.Wanting to keep the focus on inner beauty and promote bettering oneself, Mawhorter said, “If you want a diamond to shine, you don’t throw glitter at it. You polish it.” With that sentiment, Mawhorter hopes that this experience continues to build her confidence, betters her vocal skills and allows her to do the best she can.“If I know I did my best, that is all I can ask for. It isn’t about winning the crown, but knowing I am a better, stronger person because I competed for Miss Indiana.”The Miss Indiana competition takes place at Zionsville High School Performing Arts Center. For ticket information contact Pat Farm at 574-527-7795 or visit www.missindianapageant.com.