Photo by Boyd Photography
Just a few short days ago, Kristen Perry claimed the crown of the 2017 Miss MTSU Pageant. A lifelong resident of Murfreesboro and a graduate of Middle Tennessee Christian School, Perry will soon receive scholarships, as well as the opportunity to compete in the state pageant which will be held June 21-24 at the Jackson Civic Center in Jackson , TN. The winner of the state pageant will then advance to the nationally televised Miss America Pageant held in September.
Perry, an Organizational Communications major and a member of Alpha Delta Pi, spoke with Sidelines to talk about her new title and how she can use it to help others.
Sidelines: “Your 2017 Miss MTSU…Kristen Perry”. What goes through your mind when you’re up on stage and they announce you’ve won?
Perry: “That was such an overwhelming feeling for me because I’ve been doing pageants for a long time but I don’t think a title has ever meant as much as Miss MTSU does just because it’s my school and it’s where I’m from. It was just like an overwhelming, kind of like a relief that this is here and this is happening and I get to go to Miss Tennessee now with all of my friends and represent my school. It was just definitely something I’m never experienced before.”
Sidelines: For those who aren’t educated in the pageant world, just how much work goes into competing in one?
Perry: “Well for me and the girls who take this pageant thing seriously, it’s less about preparation and it’s more of your entire life, it’s your whole lifestyle because you have to worry about the physical fitness aspect. So you are worrying about your health and working out and factoring that into your day everyday. And then at the same time, you have to make sure that you’re preparing for your talent and doing your practices just for that.
One of the biggest parts that I think pageant girls…everyone kind of makes fun of pageant girls for being too superficial and not being very smart, but we really have to study up on current events and really stay on top of our stuff. There’s a lot of expectations for us to know what’s really going on in the world. Staying on top of our grades and constantly being out in the community and doing community service. So it’s just all around, making it a lifestyle.”
Sidelines: A big part of what you do is in the community. You are actually the founder of Raiderthon. Give a brief description of what that program is?
Perry: “Well its is affiliated with the National Dance Marathon Program. Pretty much what we do is we work on campus all year round, trying to get people set up and raising money on a website we call donordrive for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Then on March 3oth, we’re having a big dance marathon celebration for all of the donors. It’s a really cool program because all of the money we raise stays in our community, for our kids. Like if you were to put money in a jar at Walmart, you don’t really know where that money is going towards, like which children’s hospital. But when you participate with Raiderthon, you know that it’s staying with these local families. And I think it’s really cool just because everybody kind of has a connection in some way to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Everyone knows someone who’s had some type of treatment there.”
Sidelines: What would you say was your inspiration in starting Raiderthon?
Perry: “Really my biggest inspiration behind Raiderthon is because of the fact that I had to use the resource of a children’s hospital when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I had a major birth deformity and had a pretty serious surgery when I was six where I had a metal bar placed in my chest. It was taken out when I was nine. Being a receiver of the benefits of what children’s hospitals have to offer, it makes me excited and passionate that I get to work with the same kids that were in the same situation that I was. That’s really my inspiration behind the whole pageant thing too.”
Sidelines: Is Raiderthon your biggest passion in life?
Perry: “It is and not just Raiderthon but really Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in general. I can do the Raiderthon thing without the title of Miss MTSU, it definitely helps. But with the title of Miss MTSU, I get to actually go into the hospitals and visit with kids and they get to see a crown on my head. It’s been a really cool experience because at first they think I’m just a pageant girl coming to visit with them. But then I start sharing my story with them and it doesn’t just inspire the kids because I don’t really think it’s the kids who lose hope in there. A lot of times it’s the parents. And it’s really reassuring for parents to see that there’s life after the hospital for their kids.”
Sidelines: So what’s next for Miss MTSU? What do you hope to accomplish in 2017?
Perry: “Well now I’m preparing for the Miss Tennessee pageant, so all the craziness that goes along with that. I’m excited for just embracing the role of Miss MTSU so just trying to get as many things on the calendar in the community as I can. This next year, I really want to be in schools, hospitals, different programs and places in the community where I have a chance to reach out to people.”