News & Events




Press Release



December 11, 2013

Former Cowley student to take part in Miss Kansas Pageant


Shaelynn FrenchShaelynn French, who attended Cowley College from 2009-2011, has been selected as Miss Prairie Rose and will have an opportunity to compete in the Miss Kansas pageant in June 2014.

To be named Miss Prairie Rose French had to participate in the Miss Rose Hill/Miss Prairie Rose Pageant held on November 30. She competed in a talent competition, an on stage and off stage interview, an evening gown competition, and a swimwear competition.

“To be honest, I wasn't even going to do it,” French said. “My dance teacher, who is like my second mother, asked me to be in it last minute and I agreed because I felt like I had a platform that I felt passionate about.”

French’s platform is about "Overcoming Negative Body Images."

“Being 5'1" in musical theater I was always pressured to be 10 times better and train 10 times harder than everyone else due to my height and weight,” French said. “After leaving Cowley, my bone structure started to grow and I was no longer able to look "skinny" or model like. I often didn't receive attention from my instructors and the best vocal teachers due to the fact that I was not seen as a tall female lead that was marketable to tall chorus/dance parts. I started to hate everything I loved due to my looks, so I wanted to start a platform about feeling comfortable in your skin. That it was ok to be muscular, that it was ok to not be an image in a magazine. Beauty should come from your personality and your intelligence rather than an unrealistic image that media portrays.”

French entered her first pageant at the age of 18 and has only participated in three pageants total. Her first pageant experience came in the Miss Ark Valley Pageant in Belle Plaine. She then competed in the Miss Walnut Valley Pageant in Arkansas City where she finished 2nd runner-up. Those pageant experiences led up to her participation in Rose Hill where she won the congeniality and talent portions of the pageant before being crowned Miss Prairie Rose.

At Cowley, French was on a theater dance scholarship, so she had an opportunity to participate in all the dance shows along with being a member of the CC Singers show choir/jazz ensemble. She was also the secretary of Cowley College Student Senate, was a homecoming Queen candidate, and had the roles of Rapunzel in the Children’s Theatre production of Rapunzel, Liat in South Pacific, Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, and Annabelle Glick in Lucky Stiff.

“I ended up at Cowley because I was comfortable with both the theater director Scott MacLaughlin, Jennifer Schroeder (Watkins) of the dance program, and Connie Donatelli's vocal department, and the direction that their programs were going,” French said. “I saw myself getting an education where I wasn't pushed aside and where I could get individual learning attention. Their personalities were so vibrant and just attracted you to them. It made me feel like I was at home, and for those two years I most certainly was.”

During her time at Cowley, French also taught dance classes at Ark City Dance.

Jamison Rhoads, Cowley College technical director of theatre, enjoyed the opportunity to work with French on several theatre productions during her time at Cowley.

“She was a very talented student and a wonderful dancer,” Rhoads said. “I am excited for her to have this opportunity to take part in the Miss Kansas Pageant and hope she does well.”

French jokes that she now has six months to get super tan and super buff before competing in the Miss Kansas pageant.

“At first, I didn't know what to think about being Miss Prairie Rose,” French said. “I had sworn off doing any more pageants because I felt like I didn't look the part of a beauty queen, but now I'm excited. With the current Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail,  showing her tattoo and creating a media outburst of being different, it gave me hope. Now is the time to make a difference. Now is the time to show that you don't have to be a "beauty queen" or a cookie cutter to make a difference in society. You can be a little bit silly, quirky, smart, or anything you want to be to wear a tiara and be your own queen. So now I'm excited to be Miss Prairie Rose and travel throughout and share my enthusiasm for self-confidence and to spread true beauty wherever I can.”

French is currently attending Wichita State University and is a Liberal Arts and Science Major in Theater and Dance with a minor in Political Science. She credits Cowley with helping her get to where she is today.

“My experience at Cowley was everything I could have asked for,” French said. “A fun introduction to college that gave me self-confidence and proved to myself that I could really do anything I put my mind to. I met the best friends of my life through Cowley, who I still hang out with today, and I seriously can't imagine my life without them. Cowley was my gateway to an open door of endless possibilities, the school truly supported me through all my endeavors, which is something you won't always get from a four year school.”