I’m Still Mrs. Texas, Y’all! Kori Zwaagstra Shares Thoughts from Mrs. International Pageant

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I’ve had a week to reflect on my experience at Mrs. International and I would love to share my thoughts with you.  Competing at an International level was an amazing honor and it has taken all of the last week to begin to process the memories, new friends and feelings.

I must start by saying I had an absolutely fabulous week.  Mary and Mel Richardson and their entire team truly run the pageant with organization and efficacy at the forefront.  I, along with all the other contestants was treated with respect and care.  I loved meeting such accomplished women from all over the globe and I’m blessed to have forged real friendships with many.  My roommate, Summer Drake, Mrs. Oklahoma International was simply the best.  We connected through social media a few months ago and even texted the week before arriving in Jacksonville that we were slightly worried about the “roommate thing”—I know God had his hands all over that I couldn’t think of a more perfect lady to share my personal space, makeup and hair products and late night room service with.

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One of the biggest challenges in any pageant is our own personal tendency to play the comparison game.  Thankfully Team Texas has amazing sponsors that help with that aspect too!  Our Texas International interview coach, Valerie Hayes, and I worked on specific tactics to talk myself off the comparison cliff.  Our wardrobe sponsor Laine Berry of the Royal We helped design a look for the week that had me feeling so confident in what I was wearing I didn’t worry about what everyone else was dressed in.

I’m not ashamed to say I had a goal heading into Mrs. International, and that goal was to make the Top 15.  Contestants in the Top 15 give their platform statement on stage and answer a follow-up question.  I’d worked incredibly hard writing and memorizing my platform statement and I honestly felt that when I gave that speech I would be speaking for every woman who had or is currently suffering with perinatal mood disorder.  I wasn’t one of the Top 15 and didn’t have the opportunity to share my platform.  Was I disappointed?  Heck yes!  I’d worked extremely hard since being crowned Mrs. Texas to improve all areas of competition while making meaningful appearances that related directly to my platform.  Did I cry?  Yes.  Was it the end of the world?  No.

For me (and I would assume for many) the best part of competing in pageant is the personal development that takes place long before you enter the interview room or step into your evening gown.  All that self-work actually prepares you and strengthens you to hear your named called—or not.

I continue to be grateful that I represented the great state of Texas on an international stage and just as thankful I will continue to represent the Lone Star State until we crown our next Mrs. Texas International next spring.

Still your Mrs. Texas,

Kori

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It’s a Family Affair, Says Mrs. Texas International Kori Zwaagstra

20160410_3055I often get asked why married women would want to compete in a pageant, that is after they say “I didn’t even know married women can do pageants!”.  I always offer the same answer: because competing and winning Mrs. Texas International is hugely fulfilling for my family and for me.

The role of full time wife and full time mom can often become just that, full time everyone else and very little time left for me.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about being selfish, rather carving out time and energy for something that helps me grow, and better myself.  Preparing for Mrs. Texas and Mrs. International requires that I make my health and fitness a priority.  There is nothing like a clearly defined goal to make you accountable to yourself!  I have to set aside time to prepare for my interview and continue to develop those communication skills.  Most valuably, I have a larger opportunity to raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders and offer outreach to moms and clinicians.  All of those things help me be a better wife and mother.  I’m teaching my children the importance of commitment and follow-through, of time management and about giving of our gifts and talents to others.

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I didn’t title this blog “A Family Affair” just to talk about how Mrs. Texas International has benefited me.  My family has had some very unique and memorable experiences because of my title.  My sons and I took a step back into the Old West at Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone, Arizona and our entire family got to attend our first ever Major League Soccer game as special guests at the FC Dallas game.  They have heard me talk about how “sometimes mom’s get sad even thought the love their babies” and know that even though you endure struggles, those challenges don’t define you.  I look forward to husband and I sharing the moment of a lifetime when he escorts me on the Mrs. International stage.

I have the enormous honor of representing Texas as Mrs. Texas International, but all of Team Zwaagstra gets to be part of the fun.

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

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Miss Teen Texas International Gracie Hunt Gives a Shout-out to Her Dad

Gracie June blogSummer is here! I cannot believe that school is out. Summer is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days, the endless adventures, and the many opportunities to love and serve others. I had an incredible time at the Texas Special Olympics a few weeks ago. The athletes have such amazing heart, dedication, and passion. They never cease to amaze me with what they achieve, and always make me want to push myself one step further than I thought I could take. It is by taking those steps of uncertainty that we grow. It is in reaching beyond the confines of your comfort zone that you achieve success. As I wake up each day, I realize more and more the truth in that life is not about achieving an end dream, but about relishing in each and every chance to love fully–to fully embrace the beautiful moment between two eternities that we have been given to make an impact on this earth.

Among the many blessings that I am so thankful for is my father. He instilled the values of integrity, hard work, and compassion in me from the time I was a child. Additionally, he kindled my love for the game of soccer. Both in coaching and caring for me, he has shown me what it means to believe in yourself and pursue your dreams, no matter what others tell you. In this month of celebrating dads, don’t forget to thank your father, or someone who has been like a father to you, for believing in you. I know that without my dad, I would certainly not be the person that I am today. My dad now is adapting to an additional role of “the pageant father,” and I think that he rather enjoys seeing me in my crown, sash, and heels just as much as he loves my turquoise soccer cleats and braided pony tail.

I hope that this summer brings much love and joy, as well as many opportunities to go out into your own community and make a difference! If you would like to contact me, please email me at missteentxintl2016@gmail or follow my journey on social media: Facebook: Miss Teen Texas International and Instagram: missteentxintl

Gracie Hunt

Miss Teen Texas International 2016

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

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 www.mrstexasinternational.com, www.misstexasinternational.com, or www.missteentexasinternational.com.

To schedule a speaking engagement or appearance from any Texas International titleholder, please contact Rachel Hedstrom at texasinternationalpageant@gmail.com.

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

Miss International Elise Banks talks about conquering fears

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If you were to tell me years ago that I would be doing all the public speaking that I have been doing as Miss International, I would have laughed in your face! You see, the whole reason why I started competing in pageants at the age of 15, was to break out of my shell as “Little Shy Elise”! Although I have accomplished that goal, I am still considered an introvert. I am entirely more comfortable in smaller settings than larger ones. So that is why I have actually surprised myself when I spoke at both the NAMI Gulf Coast and the NAMI Texas Professional Conferences last month. Not only was I speaking in front of hundreds of people, but I was also speaking to men and women who have been in the mental health field for decades. Talk about intimidating!

What helped me during the conferences, as well as other large social settings that I have been involved in is to first, know your audience. When you know the types of people who will be at the event, it helps you prepare for the conversations you could be having. Make sure to have a few “go-to” topics that you can talk about when you are conversing with people you don’t know. I typically discuss latest events in the news or my platform!

Secondly, be aware and mindful of how others may perceive you. When I was preparing for the presentations that I was going to give at the conferences, I knew very well that my older audience (doctors and therapists who are established in their careers) may not fully listen to someone who is still in their twenties! But I decided to use that as a motivator to make my presentation more interesting. I used new technological ways of presenting a PowerPoint, and I used an interactive approach to the presentation that plays to what my generation is known for. To my surprise, I received a lot of positive feedback from my presentations! If you know what your potential weaknesses are, you can spend time turning them into strengths!

Finally, make sure to reward yourself for the hard work you put into conquering your fear. Although I still have improvements to make, I still congratulated myself for taking a bold step in a very intimidating situation. Conquering a fear is never easy, but it must be done in order to fully be the person God made you to be!

Wishing you success as you conquer your fears!

All my Texas love,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

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Staying True to Yourself: Thoughts from Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor

Hey Texas! Are y’all busy preparing for Mrs. Texas International 2016? You are one month closer to walking on that great stage in Garland, Texas, and one of you is one step closer to joining the Mrs. Texas International sisterhood. With that being said, it is important that you not only stay focused on you and your goals, but also remember to be you and not to try to fit into one of the past queen’s shoes.

You are each unique and you each have an amazing story to tell (and remember that regardless of your placement). Don’t mold yourself into my look, Whitney’s, Rachel’s, Suzy’s, or any of the past fabulous queens that represented our great state. Each one of us are so different, yet we all had the same drive and goal in mind when we walked into the interview room.

Don’t change your look, the way you wear your hair, or your platform because you think you should pick one that was a “winning platform” in the past. Be YOU! Be the queen that is already representing her town, county or area with style, grace and beauty. Our system truly is one that has a different look each year. Not every system can say that, and you can clearly look back at previous winners and see that for yourself.

Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne and I are not what you would call

Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne and I are not what you would call “twins,” but we share something very important: being true to ourselves as individuals, and to our commitment to serve others. Official portraits by Clay Spann Photography at Competitive Image.

Winning a state title pretending to be someone you really aren’t deep-down will make for a very long year. Compete as yourself. Remember, no one does you better than you!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Farabe’ Algor

Mrs. International 2015

Mrs. Texas International 2015

Working your platform: Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor shares a few tips

Hi Texas ladies. I’ve been nonstop lately working my platform, Beyond Glory- Supporting our Veterans, and thought I would jot down a few things to help you prepare for the Mrs. Texas International pageant. With the interview portion being 50% of the score, you cannot neglect your platform work. It is so important to understand the WHY behind your platform, meaning why you chose it to be your platform in the first place. The judges want to see a personal connection. When you are passionate about something one can almost guarantee you will not neglect it in the future.

It is also very important to make meaningful appearances. Sure, anyone can throw on their crown and sash and take a picture, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to connect with influential organizations that fall within your platform and work together to make a positive difference. With that being said, don’t be scared to think outside of the box. For example, in regards to my platform work specifically with veterans with PTS (drop the D, people) I can work with an organization called Canines 4 Hope that provide veterans and their family members with assistance and hope to once again live a fulfilled life.

Begin preparing now for your personal interview. Google, study everything about your platform and start answering practice questions. When your official contestant handbook arrives in the mail, you will have more information available to you in regards to interview and who the official state sponsor is. Remember, the early bird catches the worm. Xo!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Mrs. International 2015/ Mrs. Texas International 2015

I enjoy working hard for many veteran support organizations. As an international spokesperson for Heroes on the Water, I get to spend a lot of time in canoes and kayaks as a peaceful activity for our veterans. It's my pleasure to serve!

I enjoy working hard for many veteran support organizations. As an international spokesperson for Heroes on the Water, I get to spend a lot of time in canoes and kayaks as a peaceful activity for our veterans. It’s my pleasure to serve!

Miss Teen Texas International Visits with Girl Scouts

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I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains for the grand opening of their new facility in Southlake recently. It is such a warm and welcoming place!  During our time together we learned how to tie different knots, participated in arts and crafts (we made some REALLY cool spin tops!), enjoyed some fun experiments, and the girls were able to use their “Cookie Bucks” at the Girl Scout store.

From Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes, to Seniors and Ambassadors, these young girls are doing some awesome things! They have so many wonderful events and camps where these girls can develop their leadership skills, character, and help build their confidence.

Just as service to God and our community is a very important part of the International Pageant System, the Girl Scouts also have this same principle.

The Girl Scout Promise
“On my honor, I will try:
To serve God,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

I really enjoyed meeting all of the volunteers, former Girl Scouts, and all the young ladies who are going to shape our future by making a difference in our world!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

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