Spokane women are representing Washington on the national stage.
Kailee Dunn, 22, was crowned Miss Washington on July 5 and will compete in the Miss America pageant Sept. 14. This comes less than a year after Allyson Rowe, 25, was awarded Miss Washington USA. Rowe competed in the Miss USA pageant in June.
Dunn became the fifth Spokane winner in Miss Washington America history. Rowe believes she is the first Miss Washington USA to come out of Spokane.
Dunn was Miss Tri-Cities in 2011 before moving to the Spokane area, where she went to school at Eastern Washington University and won Miss Spokane. She graduated last June with a degree in public relations and a minor in journalism.
As a child, Dunn never saw herself competing in beauty pageants. Her reason for joining was practical – she wanted to pay for college.
“People don’t realize it’s a scholarship organization,” Dunn said. “It’s more than just a beauty pageant.”
Miss America prides itself on being the No. 1 provider of scholarship assistance to women in the world. Dunn received a $13,500 scholarship for winning Miss Washington, and all 20 contestants received a scholarship of a lesser amount.
“I just went out and gave it my best and was happy with whatever outcome,” Dunn said.
The winner of the Miss America pageant will receive a $50,000 scholarship.
Dunn said the exposure she has gained has helped with her aspirations of working in some form of public relations. More opportunities may come after the September pageant, however, like they did for Rowe in the Miss USA pageant.
For Rowe, a 2006 graduate of Mt. Spokane High school, Miss USA gave her experiences she never thought she’d have. She was able to meet Donald Trump and rapper Nelly, and will have a chance to sit down with Christian singer-songwriters Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Television shows “The Bachelor,” “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race” have also reached out to Rowe.
While she doesn’t want to be a part of “The Bachelor,” she says being on “The Amazing Race” would be a “pretty cool opportunity,” although she has not made a decision yet.
“TV shows isn’t really what I want to do,” Rowe said.
Rowe wants to pursue her passion of writing and performing Christian music.
She had never competed in a beauty pageant before Miss Washington USA, and she said the biggest thing she took away from the experience was a new sense of confidence.
“After walking on national television in a swimsuit, you feel like you can do anything,” Rowe said.
If she had to do it over again, Rowe said she would have tried to make the experience more fun. She was too serious about her preparation and put a lot of pressure on herself.
Dunn is in the midst of her preparations for the September pageant, where she will compete against 52 other contestants. Her main sponsor is in Renton, Washington, and she has moved there for the summer to better prepare.
Dunn said she will sing Adele’s “Someone Like You” for the talent portion of the competition.
As for Rowe, she does not think she will compete in a beauty pageant again, but she is thankful for the opportunities it has given her.
“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rowe said.