By Sydney Yalshevec

Miss Nebraska talks to Kimball High students


Sydney Yalshevec

Miss Nebraska stopped in Kimball to spend time conversing with local students about giving everyone a fair shot, despite any perceived differences.

Miss Nebraska, JaCee Pilkington, was crowned on June 13, 2013. In September she competed for Miss America in Atlantic City. Although she was not crowned Miss America she is still attending to her duties as Miss Nebraska. These duties include visiting various schools around Nebraska, as well as rotary clubs. She also appears at other functions for charities and special events. When she won Miss Nebraska she took a year off school so that she could attend to her duties as Miss Nebraska properly.

One thing Pilkington does is speak at various schools on the topic of bullying, at least that's what the schools will generally tell the students. However, the message Pilkington is trying to convey to students is much more along the lines of preventative behavior.

"Just because someone is different, just because someone has different interests than you doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a shot," Pilkington said.  

She speaks to the children about being accepting and supportive towards students with all kinds of interests. She really tries to get the kids to care about each other's interests and to be encouraging. She stresses that it's important that everyone is a part of a bigger picture and if too many people are forced to conform to being like everyone else that there will be gaps in the bigger picture. 

Before she speaks to the students she gives them all one puzzle piece. Those puzzle pieces are all a part of a full size puzzle, in Kimball High School's instance they were all a part of a puzzle of 'Starry Night', by Van Gough. Pilkington stresses that each of those puzzle pieces, although different, are important to the completed picture. Without one piece there is a gap.

"Each of us have a passion, talent, or purpose that specifies our place in the bigger puzzle and that's where we belong. Just because maybe someone tells you you need to change or that your passions or goals don't make sense, just know that if you aren't yourself and you aren't in the place where you should be the rest of the puzzle won't make sense," Pilkington said.  

Miss Nebraska herself is of course not an exception to what she speaks about. She mentions how she was not popular in school. She liked things that were deemed "uncool" by the other students. She enjoyed golf, speech, choir, and theater, all things that didn't exactly gain her a seat at the "popular table". 

She loved to sing and always had aspirations to be a pop singer much like her childhood idol, Shania Twain. However, as much as she wanted to be Shania Twain, people still did their best to snap her to reality and urge her to pick another more realistic career path. 

"I totally accepted that I knew it probably wasn't going to turn into anything but singing was still something I loved to do and something I didn't want to just throw away," 

Some other highlights of Pilkington's speech at the schools involved getting some of the male students to attempt to walk in a pair of high heeled shoes. While a comical sight to behold, it is also a rather poignant illustration. The thought that a person doesn't truly know another person until they've walked a mile in their shoes is one Pilkington tries to convey to the students. She drives home her point that it's difficult to be oneself, but even more difficult to be someone else. Also sometimes it's important to try and empathize with others before judging them.

All these lessons are very valuable for teenagers who tend to live in a world that is known for ostracizing people due to their differences. Pilkington is very passionate about encouraging the students to celebrate differences and to be each other's cheerleaders. She tells the students that they should work at attending school functions other than sporting events and show their fellow students support in being themselves.

Despite Pilkington's notable work with the local schools and the nonprofit organization she started, Operation Remember Me, some people still have a negative view of pageants due to reality T.V.

Pageants are often displayed as misogynistic. The women in the pageants are often portrayed as ignorant and shallow. However, after speaking with Pilkington and hearing her thoughts and opinions on matters widespread, one can reach the conclusion that she is neither ignorant or shallow. She also defends the pageants she has participated in, calling them wonderful opportunities.

"A lot of people talk about pageants badly and they shouldn't. I mean, yes in some pageants there are bad aspects. However in the pageants I've been in they really want the ladies involved to be up to date on current events and to be able to voice an opinion," Pilkington said.

A lot of the parts of the pageants are not televised, Pilkington said. The televised portions tend to be the talent, the evening gown, and the swimsuit portions of the pageant. However there are other portions, interviews on world events and political issues that make the girls handle very controversial matters in a calm and poised fashion.

Pilkington is very ambitious and she explains how the pageant scholarship has helped immensely in paying off her college loans. She is a senior at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. She is studying business and political science. Although many would not expect someone with the title of Miss Nebraska to be interested in business, Pilkington is. She is also interested in law and would like to perhaps become a lawyer someday. A girl with such ambition is the type of girl that the Miss Nebraska pageant wants to help.

"It's one of the biggest scholarship programs out there and I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's great and it's really been a privilege getting to speak to kids and rotary clubs. I am really passionate about helping veterans and being Miss Nebraska has really helped me with that," Pilkington said.

Pilkington has been an exemplary Miss Nebraska. She stands by what she believes in and she believes in helping others. She has brought definite honor to the name of her hometown of Minatare, Nebraska.  


Reader Comments

frhays54 writes:

So important for students to learn how hurtful bullying is. Glad Miss Nebraska made this a topic of discussion in her recent visit to Kimball.


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