Miss Texas hopeful has already won against illiteracy and poverty

I began competing in the Miss America Organization in January 2017, when I was crowned Miss Twin Rivers. The Miss America Organization was the first pageant system to promote giving back to your community through a personal platform. When you start looking for platform options, every pageant girl is advised to pick something that is close to your heart. Not only will this allow a contestant to speak intelligently about their platform, but they’ll also be able to speak with passion about that subject.
It made perfect sense to partner with magazineliteracy.org to promote my love for magazines and reading on my journey to Miss America. I have always been an avid reader. My mother is a library director, and we never had a shortage of books laying around the house. I used to line up my stuffed animals and “read” to them, making up stories to go with pictures. I was a journalism major in college, and my dream job would be writing for a nationally syndicated magazine.

I was also advised to go into my first local pageant interview with a quantifiable number of magazines in mind to collect during my year of service, and a number to tell them I had already achieved. I went into my Miss Twin Rivers interview with 300 magazines collected, and declared to the judges that I would collect 5,000 magazines during my year. I have been amazed what a title and a little determination can do. In the first six months of my reign, we are already at 2,758 magazines collected!
Of course numbers are great, but the impact that these words can have on an individual can’t be quantified. Texas has one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation and I wanted to partner with magazineliteracy.org not just to ship off these magazines to a distributing center, but to distribute them myself in my East Texas community as well.
Being a border state, Texans face illiteracy not only because of poverty, but also because of a language barrier in some cases. I really try to encourage donations of magazines in Spanish, because people who are strong readers in their native language have an easier time picking up a secondary language.
When asked the official name of my platform, I say “Everyone Has A Story,” partnering with magazineliteracy.org. I truly believe that everyone has a unique and important story to tell, and that literacy is the first step in ending the poverty cycle, and allowing these voices to be heard in a powerful, life-altering way.

In about three weeks, I’ll compete for the Miss Texas crown. I can’t even begin to fathom how this effort could expand across the state with that kind of platform to speak from. Regardless of if I am crowned Miss Texas or not, I’m planning to continue this project well past my time as a pageant girl.
Thank you for letting me tell my story!
Miss Twin Rivers,
Kimberly Ferguson