Fellow students send Miss Kansas off for national crown

About 50 people gathered Friday afternoon to send off Hannah Wagner, recently crowned Miss Kansas, to compete in the Miss America competition next month.

For the business major who grew up thinking a pageant competitor was something she would never be, and for the girl who said she never cries, the tears came spilling out Friday afternoon.

Sophomore Hannah Wagner is on her way to battle for the Miss America crown.

But she did not leave without first receiving some love from her family, Alpha Phi sorority sisters and fellow Wichita State students.

About 50 people gathered Friday afternoon outside the Rhatigan Student Center to send her off to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she’ll compete in the 2015 Miss America Pageant Competition. Student Government Association organized the send-off party.

At the meet-and-greet, visitors mingled with Wagner, took photos and sent her on her away with their encouraging words.

Wagner was serenaded with a remix of “Isn’t She Lovely,” which was personalized for Miss Kansas.

Moved to tears, Wagner gave a speech on what the university’s support has meant to her throughout her journey. One by one, her peers stood up to talk about their sisterhoods and friendships with Wagner.

“The fact that Wichita State hosted a party for me, and the number of people that came out to support, means the most,” Wagner said after the party. “I know the entire student body is behind me.”

Wagner said she hopes the pageant will give her a story to tell her future children.

 “I hope I can leave the pageant with a story that I can tell my kids in the future, and am hoping to gain pride for myself no matter what the outcome is,” she said.

Wagner was crowned Miss Kansas on June 6 in Pratt after formally winning the title of Miss Augusta. Her talent is ballet and the issue she fights for is woman’s complacency in the workplace.

The Miss Kansas Organization is a non-profit organization that offers collegiate scholarships for young women.

Wagner competed with three other Shockers over the summer for the Miss Kansas crown. Old friend Kiah Duggans, a top 10 finalist, as well as new friends Amanda Johnson and Jade Dowling, also represented the university.

“I’m happy I was able to meet people before I actually attend the school,” said Dowling, an incoming WSU freshman.

“I have so much love for this state,” Wagner said Friday. “To me, representing Kansas is such an honor, and I can’t even put words around how much it means. I’m just excited to be at Miss America. The anxiety is killing me.”

At the 89th annual national pageant, Miss America 2016 will be crowned Sept. 13, live on ABC, channel 10.