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The Road to Miss Arkansas- Kelli Collins, Miss University of Central Arkansas

Please share with our readers your platform along with a brief description of what it is.
My platform is the Make-A-Wish Foundation where I spend my time volunteering as a Wish Granter and an Office Angel. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children ages 2.5 to 18 years old with life-threatening illnesses. This foundation thrives on bringing our wish kids and their families renewed hope, strength, and joy.

How long have you competed in pageants? How do you think you’ve personally grown with all your prior pageant experience?
I have competed in pageants for fourteen years, 12 of those being in the Miss America Organization. Pageants have taught me work ethic, self-confidence, and has allowed me to grow as a role model for children. I have grown leaps and bounds due to my experience in the pageant world.

In regards to your platform, why did you choose to go with this particular one?
I began fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation with my Middle Level FBLA Chapter. I never realized the impact I was making until one of my best friend’s nephew, Bryce, received his wish. Bryce, a three-year-old who was battling cancer, was one of the strongest young boys I had met in my life. He and his family traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama to enjoy a week at the beach. Seeing the power of a wish in their experience encouraged me to become more involved in Make-A-Wish as a Wish Granter.

How has working alongside your platform made you into a stronger person?
My platform gives me the opportunity to make the magic happen. My wish kids have diseases like ALL, MS, cancer, etc. yet, they do not let that label define them. They remain optimistic and push through endless hospital visits. From my wish kids, I have learned to remain joyful through the storm. I remain strong in times they simply cannot.

What have you learned from your current Miss Arkansas Savannah Skidmore as well as our Miss America Savvy Shields, which you hope to carry with you if you were to win the title of Miss Arkansas?
I have learned many things from Savannah and Savvy; they are amazing

role models for any young woman to look up to. The thing I love most about them is how genuine and approachable they are. Anyone that encounters either of these women feel special. As an ambassador for the state of Arkansas, I feel that this is very important.

As a title-holder, what is one of the single-most important messages, which you think you convey to your followers?
Self-worth. The messages I will convey on my social media accounts, school assemblies, and speaking opportunities is this: love who YOU are. This is something I feel is so important to teach to our younger generation.

If you were to win the title of Miss Arkansas, what is the one thing which you would strive the hardest to accomplish?
My goal, if chosen as Miss Arkansas, is to speak to 80,000 students across the state of Arkansas about the importance of finding their passion within their communities, while promoting and advocating for other young women to compete in the Miss America Organization.

Imagine you’re competing for Miss America, and your roommate has never visited Arkansas; how would you describe your state to your roommate?
Arkansas is the most beautiful state in the country. From our breathtaking
mountain-top views to our wild rapids, there is something to be said about the beauty of the Natural State. Arkansans are generous and selfless beings. Our farmland is gorgeous and bountiful. It is a welcoming home to anyone!

If you could place three items in a time capsule, which represent the     women of today, what would they be and why?
I would place a planner, a one-hundred-dollar bill, and a mirror in a time
capsule. A planner because women are structured, organized and always prepared for whatever life throws at them. A one-hundred-dollar bill because strong women can support themselves and do not have to rely on anyone else to do so for them. Today, we live in a world where women are thriving. I would place a mirror because every woman knows her worth and how beautiful she truly is to the world.

Because of media, many people tend to look at pageant with a very scrutinizing option; For you. personally, what have been some of the biggest benefits of being a part of the Miss America Organization. And how would you share the positive nature of pageants with others who may not be familiar?
Aside from the interview skills every pageant girl rants and raves about, I have gained self-confidence, self-work, time management, and an opportunity to give my whole heart to something. The Miss America Organization has changed my life through scholarships where I have completed all my college thus far debt-free. It has given me sisters that will support me through far more than an awards ceremony on a Saturday night. It has allowed me to network with many successful people. I share my positive pageant experience with every person I come into contact with. Had it not been for MAO, I would not be the woman I am today.

The name of this magazine is Bravura. “Bravura” is an artistic word for exceptional; in your opinion, what makes you “bravura”?
I am bravura due to my very diverse lifestyle. Although I am a pageant girl, I still enjoy my country roots. I am an avid deer hunter and fisher. I love to spend time on the lake and as much time outside as possible. This sets me apart from most of the pack!

Where can fans follow you on social media?

What advice do you have for those who want to take part in pageants?
My advice is to jump feet first and do not look back. Deciding to compete in a pageant will help you grow leaps and bounds and will forever change your life if you let it.

What words of thanks do you have for those who have helped to bring you to where you are today – a member of the Miss Arkansas Class of 2017?
There are so many people who have made such a difference in my life. To my family, friends, coaches, board of directors, and anyone who has ever cheered me on, thank you for believing in me. You are the reason I continue to work day in and day out. You give me a push when I need it. You all are my rock and for that I am forever grateful.

What final words, if any, do you have for the readers of Bravura Magazine?
Bravura Readers, I genuinely wish that you decide to compete in an organization that has given me so much more than a sash and shiny crown.