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The Road to Miss Arkansas- Raygan Sylvester, Miss Northwest Arkansas

Please share with our readers your platform along with a brief description of what it is.
My platform issue is *Arrive Alive*. Through this program, I educate others on Arkansas driving laws and encourage them to never drive distracted. I am honored to say that I have had the opportunity to talk to over 13,000 individuals about the importance of vehicular safety!

How long have you competed in pageants? How do you think you’ve personally grown with all your prior pageant experience?
I first became involved in the Miss America Organization when I was 13 years old and have competed for five of the past eight years. Throughout this experience, I have developed self confidence, learned value public speaking skills, and established a skill set that will continue to benefit me as I transition into the world of business. I am certain that these skills and many more will have a priceless impact on my success for years to come.

In regards to your platform, why did you choose to go with this particular one?
In 2010, my brother was in a car accident that he only survived because he was wearing his seat belt. I soon discovered that Arkansas is ranked 46th in the nation in seat belt use and has one of the highest fatality rates for teen driving accidents. These statistics along with my brother’s story
are what motivated me to develop the Arrive Alive program as well as my own 501-c(3) non-profit organization, Think S.A.F.E.: Seatbelts are for Everyone. I have had the opportunity to partner with individuals and organizations like Governor Asa Hutchinson, State Farm Insurance, and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in order to share my message and inspire others to be safe behind the wheel.

How has working alongside your platform made you into a stronger person?
Developing a program is not an easy feat, and through this process I learned a lot about resilience and perseverance. I am so proud to say that with hard work and dedication I have been able to secure partnerships with influential organizations and people like Arkansas Governors, State Farm Insurance, and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

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?
Miss Arkansas Savannah Skidmore and Miss America Savvy Shields are both incredible role models for young women all across the nation. While they are both very different, it is easy to see that they possess many of the same qualities. They are both unapologetically authentic and have stayed true to who they are even after winning their respective titles. They also both are approachable and relatable, and when traveling across the state and the nation their passion for people is evident. If chosen to be Miss Arkansas, I would undoubtedly look to these inspiring women as shining examples of these traits and many more that a titleholder should possess.

As a title-holder, what is one of the single-most important messages, which you think you convey to your followers?
My message to others is to never give up on a dream. The Miss America Organization helps us to develop our dreams and create a plan in order to put these ideas into actions. If you are passionate about something, never stop working until you achieve your goals!

If you were to win the title of Miss Arkansas, what is the one thing which you would strive the hardest to accomplish?
As Miss Arkansas, I would share the message of how life-changing this experience is and encourage others to get involved. Not only does this pageant provide scholarships to women striving to achieve their scholastic goals, but it also provides us with priceless mentors who support us in our endeavors. I could go on and on about the ways that being involved in this organization has changed my life, and would be excited to see the continuing change that this system has on young ladies in our state and in the nation.

Imagine you’re competing for Miss America, and your roommate has never visited Arkansas; how would you describe your state to your roommate?
Arkansas really is a diamond in the rough, and that’s not just because we have the only active public diamond mine in the United States. It is an oxymoron of a destination, being very advanced in the corporate world while also maintaining a balance of beautiful lakes, parks, mountains, and forests.

If you could place three items in a time capsule, which represent the women of today, what would they be and why?
A blazer, a cell phone, and a tube of lipstick. Women of today are powerful and hard working, continually breaking glass ceilings in the business world. I feel that a blazer personifies this confidence and authority. Cell phones are a major part of everyone’s life currently, but statistics continue to show that women are more active on social media sites, particularly those like Pinterest and Instagram. I think that this speaks to the creative and adventurous side of the modern woman. And finally, a tube of lipstick to convey that women are fiercely feminine.

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?
No person can deny that the Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship provider to young women. Beyond that, this system provides relationships, life skills, and opportunities unmatched by any other organization. Any individual who has ever encountered a young lady who is or has been in this organization must admit that their passion and dedication is a testament to the type of qualities that the Miss America Organization instills in women.

The name of this magazine is Bravura.  “Bravura” is an artistic word for exceptional; in your opinion, what makes you “bravura”?
Any exceptional qualities that I have are a direct representation of my involvement in the Miss America Organization. This system has developed me into a dedicated leader, a dreamer, and a passionate advocate for distracted driving awareness. I am thankful that my journey to Miss Arkansas has pushed me to be the best possible version of myself, and because of this I feel that I am “bravura.”

Where can fans follow you on social media?
Facebook: Raygan Sylvester or Arrive Alive Arkansas

What advice do you have for those who want to take part in pageants?
I would say do it! There is no reason not to at least give pageants a try. However, it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is not to win a crown, but instead we must focus on the valuable skills and growth that are a result of being involved in systems like the Miss America Organization.

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?
I truly cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has supported me in this journey. To my director, mentors, friends, family, and encouragers who have helped me get to where I am today, I can never do enough to prove my gratitude to you. There truly is no way that I could have gotten here alone, and I am eternally grateful that you all have impacted my life in such indescribable ways.

What final words, if any, do you have for the readers of Bravura Magazine?
The face of pageantry has changed, and Miss America has been cutting edge in marketing this system as a scholarship provider instead of a beauty competition. I hope that you can tell from our responses the life changing impact of this organization and our wide range of passions that we all are aspiring to achieve.