She's more than 'a girl with a crown'
Miranda Pounders isn't just a girl with a crown. The 15-year-old has her future planned out, loves kids and wants to be an example to other girls her age, stressing the importance of giving back to the community.
The Rockdale High School sophomore is the current Junior Teen Miss Lone Star State and will compete for the national crown in Orlando, Florida the week of Thanksgiving. She won the state title last month in Dallas at a pageant sponsored by the American Co-Ed Scholarship organization.
Pounders won a $500 scholarship for the Junior Teen state title and could win $10,000 if she were to win the national pageant.
During her reign Pounders will represent the title by attending local parades and other state pageants and promote the Co-Ed program. She is also available for community service activities and events.
With still three full years of high school left, Pounders has $8,000 in scholarships waiting on her through prizes she's won doing pageants.
She got the bug when she was a toddler and has been doing it ever since. Pounders is also the current Junior Miss Rockdale Fair.
At the age of four, she won the Little Miss Burleson County title. In 2005, Pounders was Miss PreTeen Texas and was first runner up in that national pageant.
In the optional contest held at the June pageant in Dallas, Pounders also won the speech contest, most photogenic, sportswear modeling and volunteer service awards.
Pounders said she has received a letter from Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe organization, inviting her to participate in the Miss Teen USA pageant. She can't do any other pageants due to her currently holding a title, but does plan on pursuing Trump's invitation next year.
Pageants aren't her only life. Pounders is also an honor student at RHS, involved in the student council and FFA, is a varsity cheerleader and participates in the softball, basketball and track programs. Oh yeah, and she holds down a part time job at a restaurant in Cameron and does baby-sitting on the side.
The daughter of Alana Pounders and Jason Pounders, she has her future goals set and is on track to doing what she sets her mind to.
"I want to teach girls anything is possible as long as you put your heart in it," Pounders said.
Pounders title run was almost not as she did not want to do the pageant.
"We were a bit rushed with the pageant because I wasn't going to do it," she said. "I went in with the attitude to just do my best and that is how I came across to the judges."
The pageant preparation process also helps Pounders with other life skills like interviews and public speaking.
She loves kids and having a crown helps break the ice.
Her sister Rainey had a seizure when Pounders was six-years-old that required a long hospital stay. Through the hours of sitting with Rainey, the now teen saw what other children in the hospital didn't have.
That experience made Pounders very grateful for what she had and now gives back each birthday.
"I give all my birthday gifts to Christmas Roundup or to children in hospitals," Pounders said. She continues to do that for as long as possible.
Pounders only participates in the scholarship-based pageants, not all those with the glitz and glamour, she said. With her winnings she plans to pursue a degree in children's physical therapy from Texas A&M University.
"I want to get more people involved with what I do (in community service)," she said. "I'm not just a girl with a crown. It is important to give back to your community."
While in Orlando, Pounders plans on also entering the optional competitions of speech, sportswear and photogenic.
Judging at the national pageant is based on one-third each of poise and presentation during judges interview; poise and presentation in evening gown; and personal introduction.
For the pageant, Pounders will have to have many outfits, one each for interview, sportswear, evening gown and two production numbers.
Mom Alana says that it is hard and stressful on the family but knows it will benefit her daughter in years to come.
"The life skills gained are worth it," she said. "I always tell Miranda when you believe in something anything is possible."
Pounders does get local and area sponsors for the pageants to help with the expenses. It isn't required for most pageants, but is for the one in November. Those sponsors will earn a spot in the event's program booklet.
Early plans include Pounders being accompanied on the trip by her mom Alana, godmother Lillie Griffin, siblings and cousins.
"It will be a long, crowded trip," Pounders said. But no doubt all worth it.