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The journey of NKU’s ‘Miss Congeniality’

Katie+Himes+being+crowned+Miss+Kentucky.+The+contest+was+held+in+Pigeon+Forge%2C+Tennessee.+
Katie Himes being crowned Miss Kentucky. The contest was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Katie Himes being crowned Miss Kentucky. The contest was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Photo Provided by Katie Himes

Photo Provided by Katie Himes

Katie Himes being crowned Miss Kentucky. The contest was held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Taylor Upchurch, Reporter

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She didn’t feel quite as confident as some may have thought, but she knew she fully enjoyed the experience in every way. Her family were all gathered in the front row, awaiting the final decision of who would win the title of Miss Kentucky 2015. She looked to them for comfort, and then soon heard what she least was expecting.

Katie Himes, a senior NKU criminal justice major, traveled to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to compete for the title of Miss Kentucky on Valentine’s Day weekend, but never thought she would be the one to bring the crown home.

“I fully believed she [the other female competitor] was going to walk away with the crown. It truly was great to experience that moment with her, but when I heard her being called for 1st runner up, my mouth dropped,” Himes said. “I was a hot mess! We were so happy for each other, but I was just not expecting it at all.”

Due to her choice in major and her eight years of experience with pageants and winning the crown, some could refer to Himes as NKU’S “Miss Congeniality.”

“It’s honestly so weird how the two tie together because I did think about going into the FBI at one point. So it is really close to each other. I mean, it would be right up my alley,” Himes laughed.

Prior to deciding to attend Northern for college, Himes had her heart dead set on another college until a friend talked her into coming for a visit.

Being from a small town, Cynthiana, Kentucky, she knew what she needed from the college experience, and she found it here.

“The minute I came for my visit, it just clicked for me. I loved the campus, and I fell in love with the class size. Most of my classmates went to UK, and the thing that I liked about NKU as opposed to that was I knew that my professors would know who I was and I valued that,” Himes said.

With her education and pageantry in mind, she started her very own organization, Bully Bashers, in 2012 as her community service project.

Himes and her friend from high school, Mike Jones, both began speaking to students across the tri-state area to inform them of how bullying occurs, how to prevent it from happening and how to cope with it in a mature manner. This idea was inspired by the impact that bullying had on both Himes and Jones when they were in school.

“Before I joined Bully Bashers it was already a successful program, and after I became partners with Katie I got to see first-hand how the program changed the lives of kids in different communities,” Jones said.

According to Himes, they divided the ages into groups depending on how they wanted to approach the topic. For kindergarten through fifth grade, they focus more on the informative side of bullying, and for students in junior high and high school, they focus more on the application side and personal stories that add more of an impact.

“Going from elementary schools of 500 kids to high schools of 2,000 I feel that we have accomplished so much in so little time and there’s only greater things to come,” Jones said.

Bully Bashers became a trademark for Himes at the early age of 22, which changed her life for the better.

“This program has been the love of my life. It’s been the most amazing thing that I have ever done on my own,” said Himes.

Himes’ sorority sister, Christina Johnson, sees the impact that Bully Basher’s has not only had on the kids, but on Katie herself.

“Katie makes huge impacts with her visits with the kids. She has created a program that is adaptable to each school that the Bully Bashers visit. She genuinely cares about the happiness and well-being of the kids she meets,” Johnson said.

To this day, Himes still keeps in contact with a girl whom she met as a sophomore in high school. She is now in her senior year, and she still updates Himes on where she is in life, allowing for her advice to continue to guide her along the way.

“I give many kids my number, but we just got to talking and it just stuck. If what we say doesn’t work, we are always still here to help comfort them,” Himes said.

Himes has found herself surrounded by supportive friends and colleagues during her time at the university.

“She is also one of the most self-motivated people I know. Once she has a goal inside or outside of pageantry, she will work crazy hard to achieve it. As far as pageantry goes, she is very dedicated to bettering herself. She lives an extremely healthy lifestyle and is always up to date with current issues,” Johnson said.

And even though community service is a requirement for most competitions, Himes believes many of the girls in pageantry choose to make it a part of their life.

“I, like many of these other women I come in contact with, genuinely value being healthy and were already involved in charity work prior to pageantry,” Himes said. “Both of those things were already a part of our lives, but competing does push us to do more.”

Both Jones and Johnson believe Himes is more than worthy of the title and they see how hard she has had to work to get there.

“When I found out Katie won Miss Kentucky, I thought to myself, ‘There is no one who is more deserving than Katie.’ She is dedicated to what she believes in and who she is. She’s worked so hard to get where she is at right now, and I know she will only go further,” Jones said. “The word proud is an understatement.

“Katie walks into a room and snatches the attention; it’s almost unreal. I feel like Katie is the definition of a superwoman,” Jones said.

According to Himes, she knows that pageantry has helped prepare her for her career in more ways than one.

“My parents taught me to be both a gracious winner and loser. And believe me, I lost a lot,” Himes laughed. “I learned to be more professional and I had gained a lot of character building.”

She claims that as a kid she was shy, but now she has improved communication skills and can now find more common ground with other people.

“By doing her pageants, Katie has gained a lot of self-confidence. She has most definitely become a much stronger person by achieving things that some people may have told her growing up that she wasn’t going to be able to achieve,” Johnson said. “She is a beautiful person inside and out and with every crown she receives, she wears it with confidence, gratefulness and grace.”

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The journey of NKU’s ‘Miss Congeniality’