The young women who will compete for the title Miss Juneteenth ICT on June 3 have both a cheerleader and a role model in Meya Howell, the 16-year-old high school junior who currently wears the crown.
“Doing pageants was actually my mom’s idea,” she said. “When I started high school, I tried out for the wrestling team and I found out I was really good at it. I got second place at state in my freshman year. And I’ve been a wrestling team captain all three years of high school. My mom wanted me to branch out and I discovered I really like doing pageants too.”
Meya’s horizons are still expanding. The Wichita Southeast High junior says she wants to go to college and eventually to medical school and become a doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
But she also wants to travel the world and have adventures and sees pageants as a possible route to that experience.
Miss JuneteenthKC Pageant Returns for 2nd Year.
She says that during her reign, she is proud that she has been able to talk with community leaders about causes that really matter to her, such as gun violence.
“I was able to get a proclamation proclaiming March as “Teen Gun Violence Month” and I started a trauma group at my high school to provide a way for students who have experienced trauma to have someone to talk to.”
She advises the candidate who becomes her successor to “dream big and put a plan in place to make it reality.
“I’ve learned you can make something happen. In my competition, I was the youngest candidate. And I was a wrestler, someone who didn’t dance or sing. My talent was reading a poem that I wrote myself.”
As the winner of the MIss Juneteenth ICT pageant, Meya competed in this year’s Miss Kansas Teen pageant.
Meya is the daughter of Latisha Buncome and Antonio Howell.
This Year’s Contestants
Meet the 2023 Miss Juneteenth ICT contestants.
Meet Tiana Hardwell
Fifteen-year-old Tiana Hardwell is a student at Southeast High who sees the Miss Juneteenth ICT pageant as a good opportunity to be a spokesperson for the Black Community while also providing good scholarship opportunities for colleges.
“I’m learning about public speaking and I enjoy the opportunity to bond with other girls,” she said.
Tiana says she aspires to attend a Historically Black College or University and major in journalism to pursue a career as a television reporter.
“I’ve been researching it and looking at all kinds of opportunities. I think one of the major things I’m learning by pageant participation is how to articulate your thoughts and get what you mean across to other people.
Tiana’s mom is Ti’Juana Hardwell.
Meet Joyce Davis
Joyce Davis is a 16-year-old sophomore at Wichita South High School.
She says her goal in participating in the Miss Juneteenth Pageant ICT is to use the leadership skills she’s learning to make a difference and to be a role model for little Black girls.
She wants to attend a four-year college and major in entrepreneurship and business. Eventually she’d like a career in “something to do with culinary or marketing.”
If she becomes Miss Juneteenth, she says she wants to be an inspiration to other young Black women to pursue their dreams.
Joyce’s mom is Krystal Davis.
Meet Que’dence Winfrey Reed
Que’dence Winfrey Reed is 18 and soon-to-be graduate of Wichita West High School. She says she decided to participate in the Miss Juneteenth ICT pageant as a way to meet a goal she made in “Rise Up for Youth” and to become less shy.
“My mentor really pushed me to get beyond my comfort zone and competing in the pageant really does that,” she says.
She aspires to attend Emporia State University and major in art therapy and help young people with cognitive issues through artistry.
“I want to help young people feel heard and help them realize their potential,” she says.
Que’dence is the daughter of Marquita Reed.
Meet Ti’nya Summers
Ti’nya Summers is a student at Wichita East High School. The 16-year-old says if she is chosen Miss Juneteenth ICT, she will use her platform to influence the younger generation.
“If you see someone else doing something, you are more likely to think you can do that too,” she says. “I can be that person. I can be heard and help other people be heard.”
She says she aspires to attend college and be a campus cheerleader while pursuing an education in sociology and psychology and open my own practice as a marriage counselor. Beyond that, she says she’s also considering a career in law. “But not in murder trials and things like that,” she’s quick to add. “I’m mostly thinking about smaller cases in civil law.”
Ti’nyha is the daughter of Tiffany Summers and James Thomas.
Meet Dorothy Arnold
At 14, Wichita South High School freshman Dorothy Arnold is the youngest contestant in this year’s Miss Juneteenth ICT pageant.
She said she thinks the voices of Black women have been suppressed and she wants to make the kids of her generation and younger believe that they can do anything they want to do.
“I’ve always had bigger dreams and even if sometimes discouraging things happen, you just have to keep trying,” she says.
She says she’s been interested in astronomy and space since she was an elementary student at Buckner Elementary and she sees herself in a career in aerospace engineering.
Dorothy is the daughter of Tia Allen and Jeremy Arnold.
The Miss Juneteenth ICT pageant works with Wichita High Schools and through social media to encourage young Black women to submit an application for the pageant. Because all the contestants are teenagers, their next level of competition is the Miss Kansas Teen pageant.
This year’s pageant will be held in the CAC Theater at Wichita State University, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on June 3.