Tag Archive | dyslexia

Getting To Know You

This afternoon, I was honored to be interviewed by one of Westside’s incredible high school students, Emily Kutler, who is writing an essay on the sexualization of women in the media.  We discussed my experiences working in broadcast news, my observations of national media.. and almost naturally, my time with the Miss Nebraska Organization surfaced.  I explained to Emily how my hope lies within our titleholders and the women they inspire… that the key to ‘girl power’ is to do what we love.  To be confident.  To do good and share good in our world.  And if you feel good wearing lipstick and high heels while you dominate life, then so be it 🙂

There’s always more to the story, the ‘behind the scenes’ element that isn’t always shared.   The 34 women competing for two state titles this year aren’t just girls slapping on makeup and waving in parades, they are role models and leaders driven by 34 compelling stories.  For a teenager out west, her journey and mission include a medical diagnosis she refers to as the forgotten disability.

Cherokee official

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen 2017 Cherokee Purviance

“I have Dyslexia and I know what it means to have it,” Cherokee told me recently.  “I know what accommodations need to be made and I know the benefits of it as well.”

Cherokee shared her personal story with me in 2015 and last year; as both Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen, she worked to spread awareness about Dyslexia and to support children and teens facing the same diagnosis.  That mission continued this year when she won the title of Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen.

Cherokee courtesy pageant

“I love my time as a local titleholder building up to state!”  said Cherokee.  “All of the girls are so kind and fun to be around.  These are the girls everyone loves.  So why wouldn’t I love them just as much?”

The character of the young women who compete is what initially drew Cherokee to Miss Nebraska in the first place.  She grew up idolizing the contestants who competed every summer and served all year long, and knew when she was eligible, she wanted to be just like them.  The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Organization provided Cherokee that opportunity.

Cherokee has visited schools, childrens’ groups and charity events, in addition to her studies at Alliance High School.  The 17-year old is an accomplished pianist and performer, winning the recent Alliance Stars of Tomorrow competition’s Overall Star of Stars Award and a $1000 cash scholarship.

The ‘Miss Fur Trade Days’ OT’ title has not only offered Cherokee more opportunities to perform, but experiences to hone in on communications and networking skills.

“I’ve become more well-spoken, made some great friends and developed a greater love for serving my community,” said Cherokee.

Get to know a ‘pageant girl’ like Cherokee.. and you’ll meet a young woman with goals, willing to work hard to make those dreams happen.  Throughout this journey, Dyslexia hasn’t been a curse Cherokee has tried to hide from.  Rather, she shares her story and advice for others, like how the Orton-Gillingham reading program benefited her.  This self described initiator, a devoted and methodical young woman, has a plan and vision that extends beyond a diagnosis.  She may be a ‘beauty queen’, but she, like all of her pageant sisters in the Class of 2017, are proving what that title really means.

These are people you want to know.. they are the women who are changing the world.

Cherokee final

“Whether or not I win the state pageant, I want to be remembered for changing the way people view Dyslexia,” said Cherokee.  “It isn’t just an excuse.  You can’t cure it.  You have to deal with it.”

***

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHEROKEE?

CLICK HERE to follow Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen 2017 Cherokee Purviance!

CLICK HERE * 2015 * Girls And Dolls

CLICK HERE * 2016 * When I Grow Up

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen Program or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook.  You can also email Director Amanda Vogel by emailing maoteenchadron@gmail.com or calling 308-665-5595.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.  For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Twin Rivers 2017 Emma Wilkinson

NEXT.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Brianna Little

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

I was that kid who walked home from school with her nose in a book.  Well, as far as my nose could get with my big glasses.  <blink, blink>  I still remember trying to read my Babysitters Club books in my bed long after the lights had been turned off, and eventually my Mom walking past my room and saying ‘Brandi, book down! Sleep!’  I even started ‘testing’ myself to see how many pages I could read out loud without making a mistake.

I had friends as a child.  I swear.

My Grandpa still loves to share the story of how, at 3 years old, I stood behind him while he read the paper, and I sounded out the words in the headline.  A love of reading has simply been in my soul from a very early age..

brandi-reading

..and still is.. at a much older age.  When Westside’s Oakdale Elementary asked me to come in for Read Across America week, I eagerly accepted.  This was the HIGHLIGHT of my Tuesday (my Fox in Socks game is ON POINT!)  Anytime a school asks me to read, I try to make it happen.  I just love seeing children excited to read or be read to, and I hope to foster that same passion for reading in other kids (especially my own!)  So does an Omaha teenager, who likely draws a few more ‘wows’ and smiles than I do every time she walks into a classroom.

Miss Eastern Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Naomi Turner

“Most children and teens have simply forgotten what a great book does to your attitude and mind,” Naomi told me recently.  “I wanted my platform to involve reading because I feel as if many do not fully understand the importance of reading in the world of technology we’re living in.”

Naomi does, because reading hasn’t always come easily for her.  She grew up with dyslexia.

“Reading was always a challenge for me, no matter the book,” said Naomi.  “Although I did not want to read much, with help from family and friends I grew a love for reading because when I read more, my dyslexia (I refer to it as ‘fighting words’) was not as prominent as before when I would read less.  It might seem a bit odd for a dyslexic individual to say ‘read more!’ but reading really improves a person’s mindset, attitude and overall lifestyle.”

As she faced these challenges, Naomi also explored other ways to express herself through music and photography.  She plays the cello, one of the reasons she was drawn to compete in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program.

cello

“With various orchestra activities like All-City Orchestra, Pit Orchestra and my Honors Orchestra class at school, I work with a  large group of individuals to help showcase all of our talents and how we can sound incredible when working together,” said Naomi.  “In the talent competition, I am able to deviate from the usual and showcase my own talent without other helping me.  I love playing in an orchestra, but playing solo is also a great challenge!”

And Naomi is used to being in the spotlight; she also models in the Omaha area for businesses including the Winning Crown Dress Boutique and Lady Beverly Cosmetics.

All photos courtesy Marc Longbrake Photography

Naomi is also interested in what goes on behind the camera, taking part in broadcasting at Omaha Burke High School and learning all she can from local professionals.

broadcasting-class

“At Skills USA, I compete in short films challenges,” said Naomi, who is the President of her Chapter at Burke.  “I’m also an active volunteer for the Omaha Film Festival each year and I attend their academy for teens that brings in professional actors and filmmakers to hold workshops.  I have already taken college courses in film and plan to continue to pursue my passion for it.”

Naomi is ready for those job interviews and grant proposals, crediting public speaking skills to her time as a titleholder within the National American Miss Organization and as Miss Nebraska High School 2015.

13043631_10153735582129751_1735271258787786334_n

“Preparing for and competing in pageants teaches important life skills!” said Naomi.  “I feel interview prep especially has benefitted me.  My parents always taught me to look adults in the eye and speak up.  Pageants reinforce this with the interview portion of competition; it is a great chance to practice speaking to people you don’t know and being confident in yourself.  I have paid close attention to what is going on in my community, state, and world to be prepared to speak about important issues.  [These] are important for my future, wherever that may take me.”

Throughout the years, Naomi has also used her titles and exposure to take part in a variety of events advocating for numerous causes, often connecting her to other young women with the same goals and interests.

“I remember all of the friends I made while I competed, and I wanted to meet even more inspiring young women from around our state,” said Naomi.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss.

Miss Eastern Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Naomi Turner IS one of those inspiring young women.  This self described vivacious leader has displayed ambition and drive from her own classrooms, to those of younger students all over the Omaha area.  For her, reading is not simply a lesson in school; it’s a pathway that leads to countless experiences and opportunities throughout life.  She hopes to continue sharing that message on a larger scale as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

final

“Being a leader means looking out for others around you, not just yourself,” said Naomi.  “With Read Across America, I hope to restore children and teens’ love for reading by reintroducing the concept of reading for fun back into their minds and lives.  I also want to empower those who are struggling with dyslexia.  I want to inspire as many kids and teens as possible to read more and help them to understand the many benefits they can gain from it!”

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook. For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Kiera Rhodes

NEXT.. Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

When I Grow Up

I’ve written quite a bit lately about young women inspired by strong, beautiful, talented women who came before them.  Over and over again, I’ve heard of these teenagers and college students volunteering, working hard to better themselves, trying to make a difference for others, all because of someone who they saw doing the same thing when they were a little girl.  How often did these girls watch acts of kindness or moments of greatness and think ‘I want to be just like her when I grow up!’

Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is the power of the Miss America Organization.

It’s an endless cycle of GOOD that I’ll share proof of yet again through the story of Cherokee Purviance, an outstanding young woman representing a place she calls ‘the best hometown in America’: Alliance, Nebraska.

12688355_1663018410616055_1642716895470114722_n

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I chose to compete because when I was a little girl, I looked up to Megan Dimmitt, a Miss Nebraska contestant many times in the past, and also my first ever piano teacher,” Cherokee recently told me.  “Role models like Megan drove me to compete and start teaching piano students of my own.”

IMG_1501

Click here to learn more about Megan Dimmitt, Miss High Plains 2014!

With her role model’s complete support, Cherokee pursued Miss America’s partner program, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, in 2015.  Using the skills Megan taught her, she took the same stage her mentor had for so many years, and competed for one of our state’s top honors.

12002180_1618637388387491_782757904601319701_n

Photo courtesy Kamie Stephen for the North Platte Telegraph

Cherokee didn’t take the title, but she went home to Alliance with even more zest for the program she’d heard about for so many years, and everything each titleholder is entrusted to carry out.

“I wrote an essay last year about breaking pageant stereotypes,” said Cherokee.  “One thing that I wrote in that paper was that people who say that pageants are all about the beauty, clearly have never experienced the MAO Teen organization.  This organization has taught me to grow in my passion for my platform.”

12301604_1638317776419452_2935938404902884449_n

Yes, despite an extensive piano background and a self-described knack for music, art and history, this program fueled Cherokee’s desire to serve and help others.  When she was crowned Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen 2016, Cherokee was determined to increase her efforts to spread awareness of dyslexia

“I chose this as my platform because it is something I struggle with everyday that doesn’t get enough attention from parents and teachers,” said Cherokee.  “I have strengths other students don’t because I am dyslexic.  I am more artistic and musically inclined than students without dyslexia.  Dyslexia is my greatest struggle and my greatest strength.  I am passionate about teaching this to other teens, possibly preventing drastic measures such as suicide due to thinking they are not smart or are ‘stupid’.”

Cherokee has also volunteered to help children in need shop for Christmas paresents, she’s taken part in local Girl Scout events, and helped with community activities across Alliance.  She is wrapping up her sophomore year at Alliance High School, where she’s in show choir and the school musical and she accompanies her choir on piano.  In addition, Cherokee plays tennis, dances and paints (her work was recently recognized by Nebraska 4H!)

At all of these events.. someone small is watching Cherokee.  In Alliance and perhaps elsewhere, there are undoubtedly little girls looking up to her, just as she looked up to Megan years ago.  And just as her mentor stood under the bright lights at Miss Nebraska stage and inspired someone else.. Cherokee hopes to now hear those same words, ‘when I grow up’.. as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

just shoot me photographics

Photo courtesy Just Shoot Me Photographics

“I would be a great role model for children and teens of all ages,” said Cherokee.  I would be able to spread word of my platform to parents, teachers and [those] close to my heart, teens and children whose self esteem has been brought down because they no longer think they’re smart.  I would be give me the chance to promote my platform on a wider spectrum and to be an advocate for those suffering children and teens.”

***

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHEROKEE?

2015 * Girls And Dolls

For more information about the Miss Alliance’s OT/Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s OT/Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Melinda Cullan by phone at 308-710-5593, or by email at maot.alliance@gmail.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

***

The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Kearney 2016 Stacy Pospisil!

NEXT.. Miss Fur Trade Days 2016 Alex O’Connor!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Girls And Dolls

Raise your hand if YOU LOVED BARBIES as a little girl.

hermione-raises-her-hand

Now raise your hand if you’re a 34-year old who cried when Dumbledore died.

Go ahead and judge.

I LOVED Barbies.  I would sit for hours in my room, living out an imaginary day for my dolls in their fantastic Barbie dream house.  To this day, when a little girl I know has a birthday, I pick out a Barbie for her gift.  It’s an American classic, but not without controversy.  Some say these dolls are a poor representation of what women should be, an unfair lesson taught to little girls about who they should strive to become.

Ironically, many say the same things about pageants.  While I certainly cannot speak for all of them, I would argue the merits of the Miss America Organization outweigh the negatives.  I challenge those who hold stereotypes about the women and teens who compete to get to know them, learn what they are doing in their communities, find out what they are doing right now as the Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant draws ever so close.

Or, keep reading.. and meet the girl from Alliance who could teach Barbie a thing or two.

10397990_674637945992917_2784736818602357896_n

MISS NORTHWEST’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 CHEROKEE PURVIANCE

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“The [stereotype] that I see a lot is that the girls who are in pageants are unintelligent Barbie dolls who only care about their appearance,” Cherokee told me recently.  “I am a young, beautiful and intelligent girl who values her appearance but values her education more.”

I just want to reiterate what Cherokee said.. I am a young, beautiful and intelligent girl.  Now THAT is what I like to hear!! Confidence, articulation and clear priorities radiate from this young woman.  She’s been guided by strong female leaders her whole life, including several Miss Nebraskas and Miss Nebraska contestants.

11279936_1584529058464991_263511467_n 11263794_1584529061798324_2109511137_n

Cherokee meeting Miss Nebraska 2011 Kayla Batt-Jacox the night she won the state title, and meeting Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan when she attended Miss Nebraska. Cherokee was 11 years old.

11287170_10205679700005967_1937979465_n

“My piano teacher is Sue Dimmitt.  Her daughter Megan Dimmitt did pageants and I grew up watching her on stage,” said Cherokee, pictured above with Megan at the Miss Nebraska pageant in 2011; click here to read my profile on Megan when she served as Miss High Plains 2014.  “When Sue asked me if I wanted to do that someday, I said yes.”

11291907_1584723771778853_1820560890_n

Becoming a local titleholder offers Cherokee an opportunity to pay forward the life skills she took from other important women in her life.

“My biggest supporters include my mom, my godmother, Jerry Mathistad, and finally, Krista and Chloe,” said Cherokee.  “Krista Blumenthal was and in a way still is my dyslexia tutor and is always there to help if I need anything.”

DYSLEXIA; Cherokee sees words differently than many of us, a disorder making reading especially difficult.  She is now working to make sure other children get the help she received, creating images and flyers to spread awareness of dyslexia.

11281780_1584525445132019_1841956085_n 11263700_1584525791798651_1693250275_n

“I have been talking to as many parents as I can about the warning signs of dyslexia and where to get their child tested,” said Cherokee.  “Right now, I am working on a fundraiser to get children tested for free who may not have the money to do so otherwise.  i want to raise as much money as possible by October, which is Dyslexia Awareness month, then we’ll reward a few children with the opportunity.”

11301341_1584723811778849_1329171754_n   11262269_1584724031778827_517262739_n

Cherokee has also taken part in several community activities as Miss Northwest’s OT, including the Chadron State College Homecoming parade and the Miss America Free Cone Day to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.  She’s only 15 years old, and she’s done all of this in addition to activities at Alliance High School including show choir, drama, tennis, golf, art club and upward bound club.

947110_10201292968264169_1873291635_n 10835022_10203990223144057_5445795210657707997_o

“Outside of school I attend four dance classes a week, take piano lessons and teach piano lessons of my own,” said Cherokee.  “If there is ever a time when I’m bored I just sit down and paint.”

A young lady with a sense of style, adding she’s proud of the fashion sense that makes her unique. (“Audrey Hepburn is my fashion icon!” said Cherokee.)  However, evening gown isn’t what Cherokee likes most in this whole pageant experience.

11329622_1584525795131984_1609012294_n 11292017_1584529075131656_580392955_n 11293003_1584529068464990_882273730_n

“My favorite part of competing in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant would have to be the months leading up to the pageant when all of the contestants get to know one another and form friendships,” said Cherokee.  “The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant brings out the best in all of the girls who compete and that is what I love about it.”

Let’s think back on why we all played with Barbies in the first place.  Barbie herself, while beautiful, was the plastic perfection we all wish we could be sometimes, right? Always smiling, hair and makeup always in place, and no lie–a body that is always in great shape? YES, PLEASE!  But here’s the thing (at least for me), I didn’t ever think about that stuff as a little girl.  I wanted to change their outfits, to play ‘house’, to act out the dreams and adventures I wanted to have myself.  Maybe Barbie was driving somewhere in her convertible.  Maybe she was heading to work.  Maybe she was taking care of her baby.  And I’d argue what my Barbie did was different than every other little girl’s.

11263700_1584527715131792_367794917_n

Each of the young women competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen has different goals, dreams and messages, yet they are all great representations of the ‘inner Barbie’ in all of us. Cherokee’s sweet smile blossoms from her happiness within.  She’s a young woman standing tall from her confidence and drive. A 15-year old with the whole world at her fingertips and gorgeous, powerful women leading her way.

“Even though I’m only 15, I try not to let my age get in the way of what I want to do with my life,” said Cherokee.  “All I want to do is make a difference in the world.  I don’t know what it will be yet, but it will be awesome.”

You know what sounds awesome?  More awesome than Barbie?  MISS NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN.  Cherokee and 10 of Nebraska’s best arrive in North Platte to compete one week from today.

11297889_1584525788465318_14792412_n

Follow Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Cherokee Purviance and contact her for appearances and events on the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

Click here for a special feature on Cherokee on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Riki Hunter at 308-430-4355 or by email at maoteenchadron@gmail.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Shelby Blundell

NEXT.. Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Merrilee Prill

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.