A young woman from Sweetwater, Tennessee is taking her message to students. Ashley Ingram wants them to know how to stay safe on social media. It's her platform as she pursues another pageant crown, this time for Ms. United States.
The confident young woman who will head to the pageant later this month.
"Pageants I feel like shape you in all areas of life as far as job interviews and being a healthier individual, being able to talk to other people. It really just shapes you in all areas of life an makes you a better person all around," she said.
She won the title of Miss Tennessee United States in 2012 when she was a sophomore in college Then she came back five years later, this April first, to win Ms. Tennessee United States.
This time she still has the same bright smile but now she owns a boutique in Sweetwater called Her Majesty Boutique and has a little boy, two year old Janzen.
"I get to be mom when I'm not being Ms. Tennessee," she said.
Her quest for another crown has been intense.
"April first 2016 I was at the Miss Tennessee pageant and that is the day that I decided that I was coming back. And I decided to come back full force. And that is when I pretty much was like you've got to be in a bikini this time next year on this stage so it's time to go. It took me a little while to get started but in five months I lost 45 pounds and was swimsuit ready on the Ms. Tennessee stage," she said.
She won a competition that is not all swimsuits and lipstick. The Ms. United States pageant promotes service and volunteerism through the contestants' platforms.
Some of Ashley's own negative experiences on social media inspired her to choose a platform she calls Socially Safe. She thought she would target teens in schools but realized kids as young as third grade need skills to stay safe on social media.
"When I was Miss Tennessee my focus was entirely on anti-bullying. Now it's more switched over to the safety part of it. Not meeting up with people you don't know. Not sharing too much information. Stuff like that has become more important to me but I also still focus a lot on cyber bullying," she said.
Her focus for the next three weeks is the Ms. United States pageant in Orlando.
"Every single day since April first 2016 I have looked at myself in the mirror and said I am Ms. United States 2017. Every single day. I have spoken it into existence and I really hope I can bring that crown back to Tennessee," she said.
It is a crown she hopes will help her advocate for social media safety.
Ashely will have a week of activities and preliminary competitions before the national Miss United States pageant July 7.
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