Meet Gracie Hunt, Your Miss Teen Texas International 2016

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Gracie Hunt was crowned Miss Teen Texas International on April 10th at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas.  She is a high school student at Ursuline Academy in Dallas.

Hello! My name is Gracie Hunt. I am seventeen years old and attend The Ursuline Academy of Dallas. I enjoy taking my golden retriever puppy running, hiking high mountains, and spending time with my friends and family. In addition, soccer is one of my greatest joys and passions. My dad taught me to play as soon as I could stand on my own two feet. 

Pageantry has been a dream of mine for many years. My Mom has a legacy in pageantry, and I believe that her experience and love for what it taught her kindled my desire to follow in her footsteps. My official training began nine weeks ago, when I decided to compete in Miss Teen Texas International. Through dedication, hard work, and the constant reminder that with God all things are possible, I worked each and every day, preparing myself to be the best that I possibly could. I am so honored, thankful, and blessed to hold the title of Miss Teen Texas International 2016, and hope to use this opportunity to bring awareness to my platform: Breaking Barriers Thru Sports. 

Gracie Hunt

Miss Teen Texas International 2016


Becoming a Texas Queen: Miss Texas International Taylor Ashworth Talks About Her Journey

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Taylor Ashworth is crowned Miss Texas International 2016 during the Texas International Pageant, held April 10th at the Granville Arts Center.

I know the title of this blog may lead you to believe that I’m giving tips to how to become a queen. The truth of this article is that the road to Texas International, was just a journey of personal growth.

As a 7th grader I remember crying to my mom and asking her “Why couldn’t my life get better? Why do people pick on me? Why can’t I transfer and run from my problems?”

My mom would tell me that no matter how hard people want to change me that I should never stop being me. That I should never stop being Taylor.

I never truly understand what she meant until high school when people’s opinions of me and their “expectations” of what I should be started not to matter to me anymore. In high school, when I would fail at something I let that motivate me to try again to better myself from it.

It took a lot out of me sometimes not to throw my hands up in the air and say “God why me? Why now?”

Cause there were plenty of times I wanted to quit. There were plenty of times I felt hopeless that things were ever going to get better.

I found comfort in prayer and volunteering. It filled my heart and let my mind rest. One of my bad habits is I tend to overthink situations.

When I started college in 2013, I was still learning and discovering who Taylor exactly was. Was she a graphic designer? Was college even for her? How do I make friends after being in a private school most of my life.

As of spring 2015 Taylor was a Miss Texas International 2015 2nd runner-up and a business major. She was 19, happy, and finally almost to where God wanted her to be. That summer I changed majors to Sports Management and honestly it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

That fall I was finally in a major I loved and gained a whole new group of friends. I will graduate next to 300 fellow recreation majors and friends.

I am your Miss Texas International 2016 but, I’m still Taylor. I’m still a full-time student working part-time at Rudy’s BBQ. I’ll still be walking around campus with a Peace Tea and a bag of Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno chips. And you can definitely still find me at home games wearing my boyfriend Garrett’s name on my back cheering for him on the field.

I’m looking so forward to this year and sharing my journey with all of you.

Life it doesn’t get easier but it definitely gets better.

Dream Big.

Thanks for reading!

Taylor Ashworth

Miss Texas International 2016

Texas International Names 2016 Queens

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2016 Texas International queens were named April 10th at the Granville Arts Center.  Gracie Hunt (left) was crowned Miss Teen Texas International, Taylor Ashworth (center) was crowned Miss Texas International, and Kori Zwaagstra (right) was crowned Mrs. Texas International.  All three ladies will represent Texas at the International Pageant in Jacksonville, Floria, in July.

Kori Zwaagstra Crowned Mrs. Texas International 2016, Taylor Ashworth Crowned Miss Texas International 2016, and Gracie Hunt Crowned Miss Teen Texas International 2016

2016 queens will represent the Lone Star State at the International Pageant in July

After a weekend of sparkles and speeches about service, Texas International has named its 2016 queens. Kori Zwaagstra, a mother of two from the Lubbock area, was crowned Mrs. Texas International.  Taylor Ashworth, a student at the University of North Texas, was crowned Miss Texas International, and Gracie Hunt, a student at Ursuline Academy, was crowned Miss Teen Texas International.  All three ladies won their respective divisions during the Texas International Pageant, held April 10th at the Granville Arts Center in Dallas.

Zwaagstra competed among accomplished married women from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, and evening gown. The Mrs. Texas International system is the premier pageant competition for married women in Texas and emphasizes a woman’s ability to serve and lead her community, as well as inspire other women. Zwaagstra is a dedicated wife and mother whose family includes her husband, Jake; and two boys, Zayne, 7, and Gage, 4.  She is a health and fitness coach.

As Mrs. Texas International, Zwaagstra will promote her platform, “Beyond the Baby Blues,” which raises awareness for the most common complication of childbirth, postpartum depression. Zwaagstra’s goal is to bring visibility to perinatal mood disorders among women, their families and also the medical community. Zwaagstra uses her personal story about her struggle with postpartum depression to break the stigma associated with this disorder that one in seven women will experience. She chairs the Climb Out of Darkness event to educate and provide access to outreach resources for women struggling with postpartum depression.

Zwaagstra will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with women from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Mrs. International July 22-23rd in Jacksonville, Fla

Taylor Ashworth competed among accomplished young women from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, fun fashion and evening gown.

As Miss Texas International, Ashworth will promote her platform, “The Power of Pink,” to stress the importance of early detection through self-exams and regular mammograms. After seeing several family members successfully battle cancer, and others lose their battles, Ashworth is committed to improving awareness for all women.  She plans to travel the state talking to women about the positive impact of early detection and raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness.

Ashworth is in her final year of study at the University of North Texas, where she majors in Sports Management, a field in which she plans to pursue a career.  She serves as the photography chair for Susan G. Komen of North Texas, as a “You’re the Cure” advocate for the American Heart Association of Dallas, and a marketing assistant for Habitat for Humanity of Denton County. Ashworth has received the George R. Eastman Young Leaders Award from the University of Rochester.

Ashworth will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with women from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Miss International July 29-30th in Jacksonville, Fla.

Gracie Hunt competed among accomplished teenagers from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, fun fashion and evening gown.

As Miss Teen Texas International, Hunt will continue working with her platform, “Breaking Barriers Thru Sports” to help level the playing field for those with intellectual or financial disadvantages by inspiring participation and inclusion in sports.  Hunt serves as a partner player and halftime advocate for the FC Dallas Special Olympics Team, an ambassador for the Special Olympics and a volunteer leader for Rays of Light.  Her goal is to raise awareness for the importance of respect and inclusion, and she plans to travel the state during her reign, bringing visibility to causes that accomplish these goals.

Hunt is a junior at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, where she plays on the varsity soccer team. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Support Our Troops and Special Olympics. In addition to volunteering and sports, Hunt enjoys playing guitar and hiking with her family. She is the daughter of Clark and Tavia Hunt

Hunt will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with teenagers from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Miss Teen International July 28-30th in Jacksonville, Fla.

The International System was established more than 20 years ago to adhere to a higher standard than other systems.  Texas International seeks more than a pretty face: winners have beauty and depth, and are committed to their communities. Like all pageants in the International System, contestants compete in fitness wear rather than swimsuit. The emphasis is on healthy lifestyle choices in accordance with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, with which the pageant system holds a national alliance.

For more information on the Mrs. Texas International pageant system, please visit,, or

To schedule a speaking engagement or appearance from any Texas International titleholder, please contact Rachel Hedstrom at

Final Thoughts: Elise Banks Reflects on Her Year as Miss Texas International

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It is hard to believe that a year has gone by, and I am about to crown the next Miss Texas International. It really seems like just a few days ago, the crown and sash were being placed on me, and I was going through the exciting emotions of going on to the Miss International pageant. When it is time for me to bid farewell to a crown that I have worn, I am often asked if I am sad. Typically the answer is “yes and no”! My answer has not changed as I get ready to pass the torch to the new winner this weekend. I am sad because being able to represent Texas for the last year has been an absolute blessing. I was so proud to wear the Texas sash at the International pageant, and I was even more proud to be able to bring the International crown back to Texas! Although I will always be Miss Texas International 2015, a part of me does become overwhelmed with emotion as I know this chapter of my life is coming to a close. 

However, I am also really happy! I still have 4 more months to continue my responsibilities as Miss International. I am soaking up every moment! I also can’t wait for a new young lady to have the Texas title and see what she is able to do through her platform. It will be such a wonderful moment being able to welcome a new lady into our wonderful sisterhood!

I have been so incredibly blessed to meet and work with amazing individuals over the last year! I am so appreciative of Rachel Hedstrom and “Queen Mum” for the guidance over the last year and for being wonderful directors! Having beautiful and talented sister queens has made the year even more memorable, and I am so excited that I have had Savannah and Farabe’ throughout this journey! Texas has amazing sponsors, and I know that I would have not been able to capture the International crown without their expertise and support. I thank each and every one of them for going above and beyond for me and my sister queens this year. Specifically, I would like to thank Sheila Ybarra, Valerie Hayes, Laine Berry / Royal We, Kerry Beyer, Carlotta Lennox, Title Wear, Paper Patina and Glitter Flip Flops. My heart if full of gratitude to each of you and your companies!

I am eternally grateful for all the organizations that I got to work with over the last year. I have been in awe to see what God has done to work through me in order to make advances in mental health. I would personally like to thank the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) for first allowing me to be their state ambassador, and now giving me the blessing of being their national ambassador! 

The woman I am today is shaped by having an amazing support system – “Team Texas”! To my friends, thank you for going through this journey with me. From supporting me in person, to sending encouraging notes throughout my year, to having fun girls’ nights, I am thankful to have you in my life! To my family, there will never be enough times that I can say “thank you.” In my 13 years of competing in pageants, you have been with me through the highs and lows. I love you all and I can’t wait to see where the Lord takes each of us as we continue our journeys together as a family!

To the state of Texas, it has been a joy to represent you for the last year! I am a little biased, but I truly feel that I have represented the best state in the country! 

This is definitely not “good-bye” but more of a “see you later,” as I know that although this door is closing, God has other doors opening! 

All my TEXAS love,

Elise N. Banks

Miss Texas International 2015

Miss International 2015 


Miss Teen Texas International Savannah Wahrer Reflects on Her Amazing Year

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Savannah Wahrer was crowned Miss Teen Texas International in March 2015.

Wow … I have had such a blessed and amazing year in 2015!  It has been both an awe-inspiring and a very fulfilling experience being selected to represent my native home State of Texas in the best pageant system in the industry.  Despite time flying by so quickly this year, I have tried to make the most of every available minute.  With the focus on developing a platform for community service, the International Pageant System seeks out and reinforces those leadership qualities in women which help to develop well-rounded, responsible, and contributing members of society.


The year was filled with experiences from many different kinds of appearances … educational ones like when I worked the American Heart Association booth at the Taste of Dallas, exciting ones like when I was chosen to ride on the convertible corvette in the parade at the Texas State Fair, fun ones like when I got to meet many different dogs at the Humane Society of North Texas 5K, political ones like when I got meet the Mayor of Fort Worth, and solemn ones that help me gain some perspective like when I did my pushups for #22KILL.


By working in support of my platform, #savingourbestfriends, I feel that I have been able to make a positive contribution to the health and welfare of the shelter animals in my community.  Whether I was investing quality time walking one dog to help them develop better socialization skills to give them a better chance at getting adopted, promoting and organizing a food & supply drive for a local animal shelter, or spending a few hours sharing with elementary school kids to teach them how to have a successful pet adoption experience, I feel that my time was very well invested.  I do plan to continue working on the objectives of my platform in the months and years to come.  Maybe someday the shelters will be empty, but until then there is still a lot of work to be done.


There are so many people that I need to thank for their assistance, guidance, and support along this journey.  First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for the opportunities He has blessed me with, and for allowing me to be born into a wonderful and supportive family.  Mom & Dad, I couldn’t have done it without you both.  We became a lot closer this year than I could have ever imagined.  And Mom … I will never be able look at a coin-collection machine in a toll booth without cracking-up laughing for the rest of my life!  Thank you to my amazing director, Rachel Hedstrom!  You started off as the State of Texas’ pageant director teaching me, the new girl, the ropes.  However, you very quickly became a mentor, role model, and very close in my life.


There are so many others that helped make this year possible.  Thank you to Valerie Hayes for coaching me on how to anticipate the questions behind the questions, Laine Berry for helping me to understand how to pick clothes that work for me, Carlotta Lennox for teaching me how to carry myself with grace and poise, Sheila Ybarra for the exceptional make-up application lessons, Kerry Beyer for his experience with capturing the perfect photo, Corrie Demmler for your creative ideas in organizing my platform page, and the stylists who created a perfect new look for me, Juan and Joe w/ Satori Salon.  I am so appreciative of the time they took out of their busy schedules to devote to me this past year.
This pageant system has helped me to better understand and represent myself to others.  Working in my platform has further reinforced for the value of service and the amount of good that can be accomplished by a few dedicated people.  The International System pulled together so many professionals who, in their own ways, contributed to teaching me how to be the best “me” that I can be.  Lastly, this pageant system was also the vehicle by which I was able to meet many new people this past year, several of whom I consider my friends today.
2015 has been a year of a lifetime, and I’m so thankful that I was chosen to represent the Great State of Texas as the state’s Miss Teen International title holder.  As my reign comes to a close and I get ready to pass my crown and sash, I’d like to leave everyone with one of the most profound statements I came across while working my platform, “Saving one dog will not forever change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”  And for the last time, I am Savannah Wahrer your Miss Teen Texas International 2015.

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Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor Offers Fitness Tips

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As promised in my last Texas blog, I am briefly touching on each area of competition leading up to pageant weekend. We are getting so close to crowning a new Mrs. Texas International. In fact, less than 3 months away. With February being heart health month I thought I would talk about the fitness portion of the competition. Even though fitness is not weighted as heavy as the interview portion, it can easily keep you from winning the coveted Mrs. Texas International title.

There are so many different work out routines easily available these days you just need to determine which one fits your style. For me personally, I need more of the structure of a class. I love Pure Barre! I was a competitive dancer until I graduated from High School so doing any kind of work out with a ballet barre was exciting to me! My first class, I left shaking! I also made sure to get to the gym about four times a week leading up to the pageant. Being non stop with the kids all day everyday helps immensely as well!

While you are busting your booty inside the gym, make sure that you are putting healthy things inside your body. There’s no point in working out hardcore if you are just going to head straight to McDonalds when you pull out of the parking lot. Remember, in the fitness portion you want to show not only how confident you are on stage in fitness wear, but also show that you are living a heart healthy lifestyle all year, and not just a few months before the pageant.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’ Algor

Mrs. International 2015

Mrs. Texas International 2015

New Year, New Habits from Miss International Elise Banks

Happy 2016, Everyone! I always love the start of a new year! January comes with new goals, a fresh start, and my birthday! Hehe!

I always think it is important to start the new year thinking about what you would like to accomplish for the next 12 months. What better time to start then at the beginning of a brand new year! However, sometimes some of the goals we need to work on most are those that may be our struggles and weaknesses. We all have bad habits that we need to break. Some may be more intense than others, but there is no one on this planet who does not have something they could change for the better. I have heard all types of myths that it can take 21 all the way up to 66 days to break a habit and form a new and healthier one. I worry less about the amount of days, and more on making a conscious effort to work on my new habit given that I am not perfect and will make mistakes. There are a few thoughts I had as I was thinking about forming new habits:

– Specify the habit you are wanting to work on. When we blindly work on our goals, it is hard to see when we are making any progress. I know one of my weaknesses is drinking enough water every day. Instead of just saying “I’m going to drink more water this year!” which is hard to measure, I have committed to drinking half of my body weight in fluid ounces of water (I hear this recommended… But it sure is a lot of water!) Not only have I specified my goal, but I have made it measurable to make sure I am working towards the end result!

– Recognize the intent of your habit. Why are you breaking this habit and forming a new one? Are you always late to work and need a new plan as to how to be early? Have you been a smoker for years and are wanting to create a healthier lifestyle for your future? Knowing the reasoning behind the change will help you stay focused… Especially on those days when you want to give up.

– Mistakes will happen… And that’s ok! You are not a failure if you eat that piece of cake when you are trying to lose weight. You are also not a failure if you don’t have time to work out one day when your goal was to go to the gym 3x a week. The important thing is to begin each day knowing you have a fresh start to working on your new habit. New habits take lots of repetition before they become a part of a lifestyle. So the more you implement your new habits, the easier it will become!

I am so excited to see what 2016 brings for everyone! Just take one day at a time, and before you know it, we will be at the end of another year looking back at all of our accomplishments!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Miss Texas International 2015

The Countdown is On for Texas International

Happy New Year ladies of Texas International! I personally cannot believe how fast 2015 flew by! It truly seems like yesterday since I decided to compete for the title that you are about to compete for (and the one I’m about to give up). So much has happened in what feels like only a week! I know everyone is getting excited and nervous, too! Nerves are good, just don’t let them get the best of you or steal your joy and reasoning behind competing in the first place.

The great thing about living in THE best state in our great nation is that there are so many opportunities for you to volunteer your time. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to just your platform! It is great to get as many organizations on your paperwork as possible, but do remember the majority of it should be applicable to your platform. With that being said, also remember you aren’t limited to just the town or county you reside in. Reach out to your Mrs. sister queens (and the Miss and Miss Teen queens) to schedule appearances together. Your weekend together in April will be that much more fun when you already know a few of the ladies.

Between now and April, each month I will focus on each area of competition and give simple suggestions or things to think about as you prepare to compete for the most beautiful crown in the Lone Star State. I’m so excited to follow your journey to the crown.

Farabe Algor Crown Shot Mrs. International

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’ Algor

Mrs. International 2015

Mrs. Texas International 2015

Miss Teen Texas International Urges You to Keep Your Pets Safe


There are so many ways to prevent a missing pet. Here are some good prevention tips!

1. Be sure to collar, tag, and chip your pet.  Even if your pet is never out of your care, it’s always a good idea to make sure they can find a way home if they get lost.
2. This may be something you’ve never thought about but, safe transportation of your pet is important too.  Some animals can become lost during traffic accidents and you’ll never see them again. It has also been known for some cats to claw their way out of cages and other things.
3. Keep current photos of your pet on hand and ready just in case they get lost. Be sure to also prepare a lost pet kit to have ready (including flyers).
4. While you’re outside with your pet, be sure to show your neighbors. If your pet gets lost and they find them, they can return them to you.
5. Train your pet to stay inside or to stay in your front yard. You can do this yourself or for more stubborn pets you can hire a dog trainer.

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

So Long, 2015! Miss International Elise Banks Bids Adieu to 2015

So Long, 2015!

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year in Tampa with my family! I do not know if it’s just me, but I feel like the years go by faster as I get older!

I’ll be honest and say that I did not have many expectations as I started this year. Coming from the past few years of disappointment, loss and a big breakup, I knew things had to get better, but I had no idea what God had in store! As I look back over this year, all I can say is “Thank you, Lord!” He has given me such an amazing support system in my family & friends, who have carried me through the highs and lows of this year. He introduced me to so many wonderful people in the International system who have touched my life in many ways. He allowed me to represent the International system, both as Miss Texas and Miss International. This is something I could have only dreamed of! He gave me the passion to put into my platform of mental health to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. He gave me two incredible bosses who allow me to grow in my career, and also support my duties at Miss International. He has also trusted me with the responsibility of living my life in such a way that will bring honor and glory to Him.

As I close the book of 2015, and look ahead into the new year, my heart is full or gratitude and happiness. I end this year with so many more friends and relationships that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

May God bless you and your family over the holidays!

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015