GOWRIE - Ashely Dawster was never in a pageant before, but on April 28 and 29 she's competing for the Miss Iowa title in the National American Miss Pageant in Waterloo.
If she wins, she'll go on to California to compete for Miss America.
Dawster, the daughter of Babbs Dawster, is a senior at Prairie Valley High School. She's 18 years old and lives in Gowrie.
"I'm excited to actually be in the pageant," she said. "It's pretty rewarding."
The pageant is scored on an interview, formal wear competition, and optional talent competition, Dawster said. Her talent is acting.
She is sponsored by Ja-Mar drive-in and Expressions, she said, but she needs even more sponsors.
"I only have half the money I need. The fee is $450, but I want to exceed that goal and go a little farther."
Dawster said the hardest part so far has been maintaining her self-esteem.
"Most of the pageant girls are blond and tan. And I'm pale and I'm a redhead, so I have the unique beauty. I'm hoping this experience will guide me in a new direction of having higher self-esteem," she said.
Dawster's activities include cheer, acting in plays and musicals, attending church, and volunteering at the local care center, where she visits Nellie Summers.
"Mom used to take care of (Summers) in her own house," Dawster said. "Now she's in the center. In my free time I go visit her, talk to her, watch TV, bring her snacks."
Dawster recently completed a five-day missionary trip to Illinois with the Gowrie Methodist Church.
For next year, she'll be enrolled in the Professional Cosmetology Institute in Ames. She also plans to take drama classes at Iowa State University.
Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org