Kayelin Tiggs, an alumna of Wright State University (WSU), recently won the Miss Ohio pageant and is using her platform to help girls find their voice and follow their dreams.
Tiggs graduated from WSU in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology and was involved with the Bolinga Center on campus.
The alumna says that she is grateful for the professors she had, especially Dr. Christa Agiro, because they gave her the foundation to do what she is passionate about.
“It was Wright State’s courses that gave me that foundation to do what I’m doing right now. Had I went anywhere else, I’m not sure I would have met the people that led me to where I am,” Tiggs said
It was during her undergrad where Tiggs became involved with social justice work as well as pageantry.
Working towards her goals
Currently, Tiggs is working on her initiative Ohio Girls LEAD and preparing for the Miss America pageant after winning Miss Ohio last fall.
According to Tiggs, Ohio Girls LEAD is an initiative to help young girls develop their identity through a leadership lens.
LEAD is an acronym for Love of self and community, Educated and equipped to educate others, Advocates for the things she believes in and Disciplined in all that she does.
“I believe that every woman is a leader within her own right, but it is important that girls and women see themselves as leaders whether they are running their own business, the owner of a fortune 500 company, or just a stay at home mom raising four children. I want women to realize that they contribute so much to their communities, to their state, and to the forward movement of this country,” Tiggs said.
The Miss Ohio titleholder says that the initiative seeks to address the problems that hinder women’s leadership, and to work with girls and women to help them find their place in leadership.
The initiative is set to launch in May, but until then, Tiggs has been using her Miss Ohio title to speak in settings such as schools, prisons and orphanages to help women build their leadership skills.
“When you do have a crown and a sash, you are able to get into spaces that you aren’t normally able to access. So, it’s like a microphone. It amplifies you and shines a light on you and when you have that light shined on you, it is important that you use it to talk about things that are very important,” Tiggs said.
Tiggs not only uses her platform as a titleholder to inspire other women, but her journey towards that title as well. It took Tiggs six years and 22 pageants to win Miss Ohio.
“It was really hard on me, but throughout that experience I learned how to lose gracefully, what it is like to develop these leadership and perseverance skills, and to never give up on myself,” Tiggs said.
When Tiggs tells her story to girls and women, she hopes that it will inspire them and make them confident in themselves to pursue their goals.
“That’s the message that I want to give to girls when I tell them about my story. It is important that they never give up on themselves, and that also blends in to that leadership theme. You cannot give up on your goals,” Tiggs said.
Never give up
Throughout working on Ohio Girls LEAD and competing in pageants to spread her message and advocate for girls everywhere, Tiggs has learned to never give up on herself and her goals and wants others to know that they have the ability to do the same.
“Whatever it is that is put on your heart and put on your mind, don’t give up on that dream and that goal. Everyone has been given a gift and a talent. Never give up on how you’re going to make a difference,” Tiggs said.