Monday, July 25, 2011
New Miss Texas looks forward to a busy year ahead
“I am lucky enough to have the choice between two talents — baton twirling and piano," she says.
Kendall Morris’ calendar for the next 12 months is filling fast. So far, she has 400 commitments.
But that goes with the territory when you’re Miss Texas.
Morris, a resident of the 109 and a rising junior at TCU, was crowned Miss Texas on June 29, and how she’s the center of a whirlwind of activities that includes a busy schedule of appearances throughout the state and preparation for the Miss America pageant in January.
This fall, Morris will be visiting schools in Texas to speak about drug and alcohol awareness, character education, and integrity. She said she hopes to address areas that kids need to hear but aren’t getting through the regular school curricula.
Morris will take a year off from TCU in order to fulfill her Miss Texas duties, but she believes the break might not hurt her academically because she has not started her major-oriented courses yet. Morris is a journalism major with a broadcast journalism emphasis in TCU’s Schieffer School of Journalism.
“This year gives me the opportunity to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life,” Morris said.
Morris began pageants at 10 years old to practice her baton twirling. At 14, Morris became involved with the Miss Teen Texas organization, and she won that competition at age 15. In her freshman year at TCU, Morris entered Miss Texas and was named third runner-up. This year Morris brought home the crown.
Morris’ pageant talent is the piano, which she has played since she was 9.
“I am lucky enough to have the choice between two talents -- baton twirling and piano,” Morris said. But the pageant only allows 90 seconds for contestants to showcase their talent, so there isn't enough time for a baton twirling routine.
While at TCU, Morris became a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, participated in the Chancellor’s Leadership Program and was a TCU baton twirler.
With the shortage of time in the upcoming year, Morris does not think she will return to baton twirling when she comes back to TCU in the fall of 2012.
Visiting schools in the 109
Morris has participated in her sorority’s platform of literacy and has visited elementary schools in the 109 and surrounding area to promote literacy.
“Miss Texas is called a year of service,” Morris said.
Morris will also be promoting her personal platform of leukemia and will be highly involved with the North Texas/Oklahoma chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“I chose leukemia because my dad was diagnosed when I was 16 years old, so this is something that is important to me and I am glad that I get this opportunity,” Morris said.
In her free time, Morris updates her Twitter account and blog for fans.
Morris hopes to make it to at least a couple of football games this year, since she has gone to every single one of as a baton twirler previously.
“I am really going to miss [TCU] this year,” Morris said.
In the moment
“There are three nights of preliminary competition, and I did not win any of that, so going into the finals I was crossing my fingers that I would make the top 10,” Morris said. “When it got down to the final two, my mind just went blank and when they announced the runner up; I just dropped to the floor. I think people on the stage thought I fainted.”
Morris received $10,000 for being crowned Miss Texas, and her total scholarships from pageants total approximately $20,000. She will receive $3,000 just for showing up to Miss America in January. All scholarships go toward her TCU education.
But after the year is over, Morris gets to keep her Miss Texas 2011 crown as a keepsake of her accomplishments.
Finals for Miss America will be aired on January 14, 2012, on the ABC from Planet Hollywood, in Las Vegas, Nev.
Morris will be in Las Vegas about two weeks before the finals are actually shown on TV.
Morris has been to Las Vegas four times previously to watch the Miss America finals and cheer on the pageant contestants who have become friends.
“It has become a family vacation,” Morris said. “It is kind of surreal that I actually get to compete on the Miss America stage after I have been sitting in the audience for the past four years”
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