Charity Stowers, Miss Leavenworth County, is competing in the Miss Kansas USA Pageant in Wichita tonight.

Charity Stowers, Miss Leavenworth County, is competing in the Miss Kansas USA Pageant in Wichita tonight. The Leavenworth High School graduate is a member of the Pioneer Hall of Fame after a prep career that included a state championship in track and All-American honors in girls basketball. She later was the captain of the track team at the University of Kansas, where she graduated with a degree in biology.

1. As a former Leavenworth High School state champion in girls track and All-American in basketball, how did you end up getting interested in pageants?

Well as a former athlete, I've always loved a good challenge. The decision to compete in the Miss Kansas USA pageant grants me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself both physically and mentally in way I've never done before. I believe this experience will increase my self-confidence by improving my ability to effectively communicate to people. I also believe my participation in the Miss Kansas USA pageant will help me gain a greater self-awareness of who I am as an individual and what direction I should take in life in order to be successful.

2. What kinds of things have you done to prepare for the Miss Kansas Pageant, and what parts of the competition will be the biggest challenges for you?

I placed myself on a strict diet, and refrained from consuming a lot of carbs and foods that contained a high amount of calories. This was a very difficult task considering the Thanksgiving holiday was the weekend before the pageant, and I do love to eat.
Also, I worked out to the Insanity and P90x exercise dvds in my living room and lifted weights at Gold Gym twice a week. I believe the most challenging part of the competition will be walking in 4-inch heels, down stairs, and across a stage without falling. If anyone knows me, they know I'm very clumsy. In high school, my track coach, Coach Tamra Strano would never allow me to jump over hurdles, for fear I would cause an accidental injury to myself or even to others.

3. You graduated the University of Kansas with a degree in human biology, and are now attending graduate school at Kansas Medical Center pursuing a masters in health care services, where you rank in the top 15 percent of your class. How were you able to balance being a standout athlete while at the same time excelling in the class room?

It was not an easy feat, but I had a great support system.
The University of Kansas offers a great tutoring staff for athletes and has designed other student support services to make sure their athletes were equipped to excel in the classroom, and not just in his or her sport.
The motto was always student first, then athlete. Also, most importantly, I have a strong prayer life. If any situation feels bleak or intolerable,
I simply seek God for guidance and trust He will lead me in the right direction and never put more on me than I can bear.

4. You are currently working at the Veterans Administration in Leavenworth and have a strong interest in promoting awareness of post-traumatic syndrome in military veterans and increased support for military families. How did you develop this interest?

Well, I'm a military brat, as both my parents were in the military (Army). Therefore, I have a strong connection to the military and an even stronger desire to help those in uniform, who chose to fight for our liberties and freedom, in any way possible. Studies have indicated that approximately 1 in 8 soldiers returning from combat will suffer from PTSD. This is alarming, especially with the expected conclusion of the Iraq war and return of our troops by 2014. Our nation's soldiers will need the proper support systems in place to aid with recovery and help them transition back to their ordinary lives. For I believe they cared enough to fight for us, now it is our turn to fight for them.

5.Regardless of where you finish in the pageant, you seem to have a bright future ahead of you. What kinds of things do you dream about doing over the next 10 to 20 years?

Over the next 10 to 20 years, I see myself as a Medical Director of a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital working to ensure our veterans receive the high quality care they deserve. Also, I would like to start a home health-care business and improve the delivery of care for our aging population. Second, I would like to develop a mentorship program, tailored for our youth, which encourages wellness and a healthy lifestyle in order to help reduce childhood obesity rates in America. Moreover, I simply would like to be a great wife and mother and teach my family the same values and morals my parents instilled in me.
– Dale Brendel