By Keith Knepp
You certainly wouldn’t know it after speaking with Ashlynn Stachowski, but this will be the first time the 17-year-old North Webster resident will be a pageant contestant.
Stachowski has earned the title of 2021 Miss Lake Wawasee Teen USA. She will be competing with 16 other young ladies in Anderson Monday, July 26, vying for the title of Miss Indiana Teen USA. The winner of the pageant will represent the Hoosier State at the Miss Teen USA pageant, to be held in Oklahoma in November.
The daughter of Melanie Skelton and Stephen Stachowski, Ashlynn grew up in Syracuse but moved to North Webster with her father a few years ago. Soon to be entering her senior year of high school, she has been attending online school since her freshman year. She noted the online education has allowed her greater flexibility and the ability to learn at her own pace, which she said is more accelerated. To that end, the straight-A student will earn her high school diploma in December, with plans to attend college shortly thereafter to become an ultrasound technician.
While her primary focus has been in-state schools such as IUSB, Indiana University and Ball State University, Stachowski said she also is considering out-of-state schools including Liberty University in Virginia and the University of Mississippi.
“Four months ago I was scrolling on social media and came across Miss Arkansas Teen 2019,” she said. “I became interested and started looking into the Miss Indiana Teen USA pageant. I filled out an application and was invited to represent Lake Wawasee at the contest in Anderson.”
Stachowski has been in contact with the other Indiana contestants and has made new friends from around the state. Most are from communities around Indianapolis and the southern part of the state. In addition to Stachowski, there are entrants from Valparaiso, Crown Point and Mishawaka, who will represent the northern part of the state.
The contest will consist of three parts: an interview with five judges; fitness, which requires contestants to appear in sportswear to demonstrate their physical condition; and formal wear, in which they will appear in evening gowns.
“A lot of people think that the pageants have girls who are just pretty but not intelligent,” she said. “That’s not the case. The girls are very smart and have done so much for their communities.”
She added many of the girls in the contest have more extensive pageant biographies. She is hopeful, however, her admitted lack of experience will play to her favor, as she will “just be herself” in front of the judges, without any preconception of what they are looking for in their judging.
Stachowski said pageants, even at the state level, can get very expensive. In addition to the entry fee, money has to be spent on outfits for the contest, travel and other expenditures necessary to prepare for the event. To that end, she has secured several sponsors to help defray her expenses.
Through the website www.missindianausa.com, anyone can vote for Stachowski to be the 2021 Choice of the People. The cost per vote is $2, and the top contestant is guaranteed a spot in the top five at the Indiana contest.
When she’s not preparing for the pageant, Stachowski enjoys photography and has been behind the camera for several weddings and graduation photo shoots. The youngest of four siblings, she also loves spending time with her goldendoodle, Tucker, and works at a local tanning salon.