Local woman preparing for pageant
Amber DeGraeve has her plans in order.
The 18-year-old 2006 Tonganoxie High School graduate is attending Johnson County Community College, seeking a major in dental hygiene.
And between now and mid-December, she's working on another goal -- preparing for the Miss Kansas USA pageant.
Amber, the daughter of Brenda DeGraeve and the late Ronald DeGraeve, is representing the city of Tonganoxie in the pageant.
Earlier this year, as she contemplated whether to enter the pageant, she determined that what attracted her most was the potential for college scholarships.
And now that she's in the middle of the pageant process, she's working to achieve another goal -- finding businesses to sponsor her.
Each contestant is required to obtain a total of $1,000 from sponsors, all of whom will be listed beside her picture in the pageant's program book. So between now and pageant-time, she'll be contacting area businesses about sponsorships.
The Kansas pageant will be Dec. 16-17 at Lied Center in Lawrence. That's when Amber will compete in the swimsuit, interview and evening gown categories.
"If you make it further, you have to do an onstage question," Amber said. "I'm not too nervous about it, I've had to do public speaking a lot."
Amber said while serving as president of Future Farmers of America in high school she often had to give speeches.
And she's familiar with the Lied Center stage because that's where she's performed with Judy Whitcraft's Basehor dance studio.
When asked how she would describe herself, Amber had a ready answer.
"I'm always happy and really friendly and I always have a smile on my face," Amber said. "And I like to help other people."
In her spare time, when she's not studying for classes or working at E. Edwards Western Wear in Lansing, Amber likes to dance and go shopping. And of course, being a former FFA president, she's still interested in livestock.
"I like to show cattle," she added.
Amber, who has lived in the same rural Tonganoxie home all her life, said she particularly enjoys a Saturday at home -- sleeping late, hanging out with her mother and other relatives and then visiting with her boyfriend.
The Miss USA pageant system is more than a beauty pageant, Amber said.
It encourages contestants to become more self-disciplined and to become healthier by paying attention to physical fitness, diet and exercise. It also stresses the importance of community involvement and communication skills.
After Nov. 14, tickets to the pageant may be purchased online, at http://www.misskansasusa.com. Amber said the tickets are $25 to attend Saturday's competition and $35 on Sunday.