Allen, a communications studies major at Eastern, helps raise awareness for bullying.Courtesy of Whittney Allen

Allen, a communications studies major at Eastern, helps raise awareness for bullying.
Courtesy of Whittney Allen

BY: KASEY TYRING
progress@eku.edu

Five young adult women stood in their pageant gowns, crossing their fingers and praying their performances were good enough to get them the crown to be named Miss Kentucky United States. For one Eastern senior, her performance was better than the rest.

Senior Whittney Allen, 21, a communications studies major from Salyersville, was crowned Miss Kentucky United States on Jan. 17, in Lexington.

To really understand the magnitude of Allen’s accomplishment, it is necessary to know a little bit of background on Kentucky pageants.

Two main systems of pageants in Kentucky exist: Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky United States.

People are most familiar with Miss Kentucky when Heather French Henry went on to win Miss America in 1999. However, the only difference between Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky United States are the categories in which the contestants are judged.

Miss Kentucky has a talent category while Miss Kentucky United States does not, but each are judged by swimsuit, evening gown, interview and on-stage questions.

The Miss United States Pageant emphasizes the contestant’s platform, the philanthropy or service project the contestant is involved in.

Allen started out in the Miss Kentucky America system because of her love for singing, but she then switched to Miss Kentucky United States when she developed her platform and became more passionate about raising awareness for bullying.

Allens’s Platform is SpeakOUTLoveU, a social media program she created for kids who are bullied. They have the opportunity to share their experiences and how they feel about bullying.

“Social media is such a big target for our audiences now,” Allen said. “Students can develop connections with each other and know that they are not alone. I use it to give information to the students that I have spoken to; who they can contact for help or just different facts and statistics about bullying.”

Allen will spend her time touring various Kentucky school districts while speaking about her platform, as well as participating in a variety of community service projects with Miss United States’ national platform, which is The National Cancer Society and Relay for Life. She will also be involved with the Susan G. Komen foundation and the Humane Society.

“It’s a lot of promoting, volunteering and being out in the community as much as possible,” Allen said.

Becoming Miss Kentucky United States does have its perks, too.

Allen’s prize package includes, of course, the sash and crown (made from Austrian Swarovski crystals) as well as various dermatology and beauty packages.

Allen won a number of photo shoots, a fashion show appearance and will also get red carpet treatment during various Kentucky Derby events. Above all, the prize Allen says she is most excited for is the four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Allen said the title and the prizes were not easy to achieve. The first night of the three day competition was the most difficult to get through.

“I had never performed in a dress with a slit before,” Allen said. “You pose differently with a slit than without one, and during my evening gown on Saturday. I was like ‘Oh no, I just lost it there!’”

Fortunately for her, a slip-up in a near perfect pageant is not a failing moment.

Eastern produced two beauty queens for this competition. Krissie Hogan was also a contestant representing Franklin County. This was her first time competing for Miss Kentucky United States and she was the fourth runner-up.

“I have experience coming from county fair pageants,” Hogan said.

Hogan was also this year’s EKU Miss Sorority.

Neither of the contestants knew each other before the pageant.

“I had no idea there was anyone else from EKU that was competing,” Allen said. “We got to know each other, and she is such a sweet girl.”

“She was beautiful, her dress was stunning and she really did her best,” Hogan said. “She would always go on first. We would be hanging out backstage and praying together before we went on.”

Allen’s future plans include moving to New York City to work in public relations in the fashion industry. She already had job opportunities lined up when she won Miss Kentucky United States.

“Since I won, my life has kind of been put on hold,” Allen said. “Instead of moving to New York, I’ve decided to focus completely on my role as Miss Kentucky United States and training for Miss United States in July.”

Allen said this is not her last pageant. She plans on competing again in the Miss America system because she wants to compete in the talent category. Her talents range from singing to ballet.

“I danced ballet for 15 years,” Allen said. “After this, I’m going to start working again in ballet and hopefully go for the Miss America system. Talent is 35 percent of their scoring.”

Allen’s professor Dr. Karen Ruddick believes Allen will do great in whatever she decides to accomplish in the future.

“Whittney is a very enjoyable student to have in class; I’d like to have 100 of her,” Ruddick said. “Personally, I think Whittney can achieve anything she puts her mind to.”

Balancing schoolwork, her jobs and her pageant routine can become overwhelming at times, but Allen has this to share with students when they are struggling with time management.

“Focus on doing what makes you happy and what will help you to reach your dreams,” Allen said. “Balancing things in life is a part of growing up, but you can do it. The craziness makes life exciting!”

Whittney will be competing for Miss United States on July 2-7 in Washington D.C.

To learn more about Whittney and her platform, visit

https://www.facebook.com/speakoutloveu