Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Miss Kansas Teenager is hooked on pageants

May 4, 2006

Growing up and changing is a normal part of life, even for a local beauty pageant queen.

Sarah Jump, a 2001 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School, has called Basehor home since third grade. Even though she grew up physically in Basehor, she credits much of her mental growth to the pageant world.

Jump was convinced pageants were not her thing at first, but her older sister's love for the activity and her mother's encouragement persuaded her to try it just once.

"I saw the potential in her to do well," said Sarah's mother, Liz Jump. "She was a pretty shy girl and I thought it would stretch her out of her comfort zone. I said, 'you just try it once and if you don't like it you don't ever have to do it again.' She came off the stage at her first pageant ready to sign up again."

Her first attempt landed her in the top 10 and the next year, at the age of 17, she was crowned Miss Kansas Teen U.S.A. 2000. After that, Sarah said she was hooked.

"I met so many different people and just had a great experience," she said.

Since that first pageant, the now 23-year-old is in her sixth year of pageantry, has won five local titles and is the current Miss Northeast Kansas titleholder. Jump is no longer the shy girl she once was and her mother has seen the tremendous growth in her daughter since her involvement in pageants.

"I have seen a lot of obvious changes," Liz Jump said. "It has made her a lot more organized with her time. She has no trouble speaking to anyone now. She has gotten involved with things and has the confidence to seek out leadership positions."

Time management is a skill Jump uses often as she juggles pageants, school and her sorority. The senior at Washburn University will complete her bachelor's degree in history later this month and hopes to continue on with school to earn her master's degree and doctorate in history.

Titleholders, such as Jump, must choose a topic that they feel passionate about and educate others on the topic through various speaking engagements. Sarah's platform is, "Get Real: Eating Disorders and Body Image."

Jump brought her message to the women of her sorority by creating an eating disorders awareness week and Mirror-less Monday. She covered a community mirror within the sorority house with paper and asked her fellow sisters to write three things that made them beautiful on the covered up mirror.

Sarah also proved her ability to talk to anyone as she carried out her duties as Miss Northeast Kansas by speaking to a crowd of Basehor-Linwood sixth graders Friday morning.

After a brief description of the world of pageantry, Jump put the students to work thinking and writing down who they admired and why.

"I admire my dad because he fixes everything I have," one student said.

"I admire my teacher because she's smart," another student said.

Jump then commended the students on their choices because they did not choose anybody because of how they looked.

"It's not about how somebody looks, it's the qualities they have that make you admire them," Jump said.

Jump also talked to the students about eating right, staying active, making goals for yourself and feeling good about yourself.

"You have to set smaller goals before you can get to the big one," she said.

After her message was delivered, the students fired several questions at her such as, what is your favorite food? Who is your role model? And the ever popular, do you have a boyfriend?

Sarah fired back swiftly, confidently and with a smile on her face, hot dogs and Cheetos, her sister and no, respectively.

These types of speaking engagements are one of the ways Jump prepares for the main event.

As a local titleholder, Sarah is qualified to compete in the Miss Kansas pageant and will travel to Pratt in June to do just that. This is not only her fifth time to compete in Miss Kansas, but also her last year of eligibility. She hopes to make the most of her last year in the competition by bumping up her personal best of second runner up, which she achieved last summer in the competition, to the top spot.

Stephanie Harris, executive director of the Miss Northeast Kansas Scholarship Pageant, said Sarah has an excellent chance of winning the crown.

"She has worked extremely hard and she has shown she is going to be tough competition," Harris said. "I know she has high goals for herself as well."

Jump will compete in the gown, swimsuit, interview and talent categories. She does a vocal performance for the talent category. After winning the gown and swimsuit competitions last year, Jump is confident she will do well in those two categories this year. However, she admits she is a little nervous for the talent competition.

"Talent makes me the most nervous," she said. "I've always been really nervous to sing in front of people."

Even a seasoned pageant veteran like Jump needs and uses a technique to calm nerves and prepare themselves for the stage.

"I find a place where nobody is and visualize how things are going to go," she said. "It's just like a sport."

With the Miss Kansas pageant in sight, time to prepare for the event is dwindling fast, but Liz Jump said her daughter has been working hard and hopes all the growing and changing she has done in the past six years will help her do well in the upcoming pageant.

"I think she's as prepared as she can be," she said. "At this point, it's all up to the judges."

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