McKenzie Hersh, a Lansing High School grad, and Ni'Jah Porter, a junior at Lansing High had a pretty good year in 2017.

By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

McKenzie Hersh, a Lansing High School grad, and Ni’Jah Porter, a junior at Lansing High had a pretty good year in 2017. The two women have been crowned as Miss Lansing 2018 and Miss Teen Lansing 2018 respectively, and will represent their town soon at Miss Kansas USA and Miss Teen USA.
While both would love to win the pageants, their motivations for competing explain a lot about their long-term goals and dreams.

“I am most excited about representing my hometown and the young girls I knew who I could inspire,” said McKenzie. “Last year was my first pageant ever and I did it all on my own, without a pageant coach. I wanted to show young ladies that it’s possible to overcome the limitations they put on themselves. I wanted to show them that the boundaries they put on themselves can not only be pushed, but broken.”

Ni’Jah wants to compete because she loves her hometown and would like to give the city a bigger and better known name.
When Ni’Jah was young she realized she wanted to do pageants when she watched the show Toddlers and Tiaras. “I thought it was so cool that they could just get up there and do their thing,” said Ni’Jah.

But when McKenzie was young sports dominated her life. “Sports were all I knew. I played competitive basketball and softball all year round. I never had the want to do anything like a pageant. After doing a little research and talking to Catherine Carmichael (Miss Kansas USA 2017) I knew I had to take on this journey.

“She truly inspired me to want to do something totally out of my comfort zone. Catherine herself grew up playing sports and walked into her first pageant not knowing what to expect, just like I did,” said McKenzie.
Ni’Jah’s talent specialties are singing and acting.

Her favorite part of pageants is meeting new people and being able to meet up with old friends and find new ones.
For McKenzie, meeting encouraging women at the pageants has been one of the best perks of pageant life.

“I know it’s a cliche to say, but the women I met along the way made me want to be better,” said McKenzie. “They inspired me with all their unique stories that made them who they are today and what brought them to the pageant world.”

McKenzie believes the most challenging part of pageants is staying focused on yourself. “As young ladies, we tend to compare and judge ourselves compared to other girls. You are there for a reason and that is to prove why you are fit to win the title of that pageant.”

For Ni’Jah, the most challenging part of pageants is bringing out her confidence, but her advice to young girls who hope to participate in pageants some day is simple.

“Just because you lack self confidence doesn’t mean that you can’t get out there and express yourself,” said Ni’Jah. “Don’t stop now if you know you can go further.”

“My advice is to just have fun, live in the moment, and be yourself,” said McKenzie. “If you focus on presenting the very best version of yourself rather than being the best contestant, you will have the most success that way and walk away with the best memories and experience.”