close
close
Miss Spokane and Miss Spokane’s teen prepare for state competition after creating podcast supporting their own special initiatives

Miss Spokane and Miss Spokane’s teen prepare for state competition after creating podcast supporting their own special initiatives

The Miss Washington and Miss Washington’s Teen pageants are fast approaching, and Julia Zimney, who was crowned Miss Spokane, and Samantha Kissee, who was crowned Miss Spokane’s Teen, are excitedly preparing to take the state stage.

Zimney, a graduate of Gonzaga University, began competing in pageants when she was 17 years old. She held the title of Miss West Sound for two years during the pandemic.

“I’m 27 now, so I’m in my 10th year of being involved with the Miss America Organization, but it’s been so worth it to me because I’ve learned a lot of valuable skills,” Zimney said. “It has provided me with many scholarship opportunities and I now represent my community as both Miss Spokane and as a licensed attorney.”

Zimney attended Gonzaga for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. She studied creative writing during her undergraduate years, but in her senior year, she did a work study at a mental health suicide hotline in Spokane.

Her work-study experience opened up an opportunity in the Seattle area for university policy management, she said. While in this role, she volunteered with the Seattle Police Department to respond to crimes involving domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

“I was the advocate who sits with the alleged victim and talks her through potential resources. One day I just woke up and said, ‘I feel like I could do more,’” Zimney said. “I felt there were more skills I could use, so I took the next step and decided to go to law school.”

Zimney said he has received more than $10,000 in scholarships through the pageant and wants to use them to attend conferences.

“It’s different nationally; it has to go towards schooling,” she said. “If I made it to nationals or if I were Miss Washington, I would definitely commit to some kind of teaching certificate program so I could become a teacher.”

Zimney said the competition has helped her in her professional career because there are plenty of opportunities to speak as a title holder and even as a competitor speaking in front of people.

“You have all the stress that comes with being on stage and being in front of people,” she said. “When I walk into a courtroom, it’s a very similar feeling, but now I know how to balance myself and position myself to adequately convey what I’m trying to say, and I have the opportunity to thank Miss America for that.”

Kissee, a senior at Northwest Christian High School, first competed with the Miss America Organization when she was 13, when a Miss pageant contestant encouraged her to compete; the Miss Spokane pageant was her fifth pageant.

She hopes to attend Grand Canyon University in Arizona and plans to use pageant scholarships for tuition.

Kissee is the varsity captain at her school. She said competing in pageants helped her fulfill her role on the team.

“I was very shy and in my own box before I competed and I think that gave me a voice that I could then take with me into other areas of life, like cheering in front of my whole school and I lead the team. ,” she said.

Shortly after Zimney and Kissee received their titles, they met with the director of the organization to go over contracts and what to expect for the coming year. Zimney said the filmmaker wanted to start a podcast and had already reached out to Brennon Poynor, the owner of Spokast!, to inquire about what it’s like on his podcast.

Poynor brought up the idea of ​​a podcast sponsored by Miss Spokane every month.

“It was very convenient, because that’s our goal,” Zimney said. “She was so brave and so willing to take the time and energy to be able to sit down with us once a month and create them for us too.”

The monthly podcast called “Sisters of the Sash, a Miss Spokane Scholarship Organization Podcast” involves Spokane-related topics both in the pageant world and outside of it, Kissee said.

The two recently recorded an episode, which has yet to be released, in which they both brought in a guest speaker. Kissee said her guest was a former Miss Washington and Miss Spokane Teen. Zimney said he interviewed Dr. Amy Doneen, who has a heart and brain health practice in Spokane.

This year, Miss America Opportunity has a new partnership with the American Heart Association called Go Red for Women. Zimney said titleholders must raise a minimum of $300.

“That’s why I really wanted (Doneen) to come so she could share her thoughts and advice on how to stay healthy and how high the risk actually is for young women and those who would they could be at risk for heart and brain disease,” Zimney said.

Part of the incumbent’s role includes a one-year dedication to a community service initiative. Kissee said she is using her year to encourage teenagers to volunteer in the community.

Kissee grew up voluntarily with her mother.

“It’s something that I’ve seen a lack of in this generation and I really want to build it,” she said.

Zimney said her community service initiative is called the Red Lips Project, which is an acronym, or an acronym, that stands for Redefining Love and Partnerships.

She worked for this mission through her work as a practicing lawyer as well as in her spare time and was able to make connections with national and international organizations fighting sex trafficking.

“Everything is geared toward any kind of relational abuse, whether it’s child abuse, sexual assault on college campuses or sex trafficking, that’s where I focus and focus my advocacy,” she said.

Zimney said that while pursuing her undergraduate degree, she met a lot of women who had been sexually assaulted, so after her experience at Gonzaga, she wanted to put an end to it.

He took a year off when he worked in emergency management in Seattle and worked with Title XI investigations.

“I also became a certified self-defense instructor there as well, so that started my whole initiative,” Zimney said.

Miss Washington’s Teen preliminary night is Friday, June 28, and the coronation takes place on SaturdayJune 29. Miss Washington’s preliminary night is July 5th and the crowning will take place on July 6th.

Zimney will be in Olympia the week before to watch the crowning of the junior competition and participate in the events.

Kissee said having pageant experience helps prepare for the state competition.

Zimney said that while previous experience helps, having a good teenage girl by her side is also good experience. Kissee said she never had an older sister and Zimney never had a younger sister, so they had those roles for each other.

Heading into the state competition, Kissee is looking forward to the talent portion of the competition. Kissee will play alto saxophone. She started playing the instrument by accident when she was placed in band instead of orchestra and could not be taken out of class due to scheduling issues. She eventually fell in love with him.

Zimney will play the piano for the talent portion of the competition. She got involved with the instrument when she was 12, after her grandmother died of cancer. She started playing to cope with the loss and eventually found some patterns on it.

“I taught myself how to play and I play by ear most of the time,” she said. “The songs I sing are my own creations.”

Tickets for the Miss Washington and Miss Washington’s Teen pageants can be found on the Miss Washington website.