Stanford woman is Miss Deaf Kentucky

August 03, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Ashley Jackson may only be 19, but she is not a typical teen-ager. She enjoys whitewater rafting, was named her class salutatorian and volunteers each summer at Kamp Kessa, a horse camp for challenged youth. The fact that she was born deaf doesn't slow her down.

"I never thought that I couldn't live a normal life," said Ashley.

On June 14, Ashley went one step further. She was named Miss Deaf Kentucky.

"I knew there would be many qualified candidates, so I was not sure which one of us would earn the title," said Jackson. As the Kentucky representative, she will compete next July at the national level for the tittle of Miss Deaf America.

"We were happy for her, we thought it was something she would enjoy doing," said her father, Clay Jackson.

"[My parents] said that they supported me and thought that I would be a good representative for young deaf women, both said that they were proud and encouraged me to compete," said Ashley.


Having never competed in a pageant before, Ashley was understandably nervous. But, after learning how to walk the runway, she approached the stage with a determined smile.

"My mother was the one who helped me the most. She helped with my clothes, makeup, helped me practice. Encouraged me the whole way," said Ashley.

"She wanted to be a good role model for deaf young women," said her mother, Toni Jackson. "I was very proud, I've always been proud of her."

During the pageant competition she had to answer questions, perform a short skit and create a platform of personal beliefs.

"I want kids to learn how to reach inside themselves and experience their own personal capacities for courage and independence," Jackson said as part of her platform.

"She's a real friendly and warm child, of course she's grown up now. She's always been a kind child. She's just got a good heart," said her father.

Ashley said she hadn't thought about the public spotlight that came with her reign, but will continue to volunteer at Kamp Kessa despite the limelight.

"I never really thought of myself as a role model but I guess that being Miss Deaf Kentucky kind of puts me out there," said Ashley.

The stage lights will look much brighter next year when she travels to Kansas City, Missouri, to compete for the title of Miss Deaf America. For the moment, though, Ashley remains a prospective college student and devoted volunteer of Kamp Kessa, helping children realize their potential.

"It is very rewarding to see the impact of the camp on the children. I get to be a part of helping children overcome their challenges and watch their self-esteem grow. To work with a lonely kid to teach sign language, see them interact with me and then to make friends with others is very rewarding," Ashley said.

"My advice would be the same to anyone. Follow your dreams, get help if you need it, and be available to help others when they need it."

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