Miss Kate Kirk spoke up in my Human Sexuality class last year. And I took notice. She was thoughtful, and not afraid to interject a comment.
Then she specifically came to me last summer and asked about a research internship related to strengthening marriages.
We drove all over the state conducting interviews to find out how youth in Oklahoma make decisions regarding the best age to get married. Oklahomans enter into their first marriages an average of 2.5 years earlier than the rest of the nation. One of the main factors found to determine marriages lasting through the first five years is the age of first marriage.
Kate typed transcripts of the interviews for hours and hours and hours. I wasn’t sure she was going to make it at times…but she finished the project. She turned in a report. And, when Miss Oklahoma State University won the Miss Oklahoma contest, Kate stepped into her new role as Miss Oklahoma State University (having formerly earned the first runner-up title).
Tonight, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson won First Runner-Up in the Miss America Contest.
I’ll bet Kate knows how she feels. And, Kate also knows that sometimes First Runners-Up need to step into the role of THE representative.
What I know, however, is that the hearts and the minds of our two First Runners-Up are sharper and hold more promise than any evening gown will every afford them. I know that they are special because they work with children, they want to make a difference in our world, and they are genuinely kind people who care about those around them and who they encounter in their travels.
You GO, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson, Now First Runner Up…good job! And, YOU go, Kate Kirk, Miss Oklahoma State University. You are in my heart and I love you. I love all my students, but I love you in a special research assistant-who-finished-her-work-and-did-a-great-job way.
Enjoy the night, Betty Thompson…and know that you are loved. And Kate, you already know you’re loved by me!
And hey, all you First Runners Up out there (literally and figuratively), you never know when you might need to step into that leadership role. So keep your crown polished!
Miss Kate Kirk, formerly First Runner Up Miss OSU – now the reigning Miss OSU
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Best, Red Dirt Kelly