Shocker alumna passes on the Miss Kansas crown

Courtney Wages

Miss Kansas 2023 Courtney Wages ’21 passed on her crown to Alexis Smith on June 8 at the 2024 Miss Kansas competition in Pratt. Wages, who hails from Oklahoma, extended her gratitude to all her many supporters, saying, “Kansas, thank you for choosing me. I have fallen in love with your sunsets, farmlands, but most of all, the people. I know I can always click my heels home.”

The Wichita State performing arts graduate was crowned Miss Kansas a year ago on June 10 and went on to represent the state in the 96th Miss America scholarship competition in Orlando, Florida, where she earned a place in the Top 11. As Miss Kansas, she made appearances across the state during her year-of-service in bringing awareness to her platform of One Vision is Not the Only Vision.

“Earning the crown was never merely a goal but a catalyst for personal growth,” says Wages, who before taking up the mantle of Miss Kansas served as community outreach manager at Wichita-based Envision, a nonprofit that provides vision rehabilitation services. “As a nonprofit advocate, choreographer, community servant and newly published author, I am steadfast in my belief that the best is yet to come.” Her new book Penelope Has Powers, categorized as juvenile fiction and published just this past month, follows the incredible journey of Penelope, a 6-year-old girl who is blind but has developed extraordinary powers through her other senses.

Wages’ own journey, which started off in Midwest City, Oklahoma, has taken a few competitive twists and pageant turns — quite literally as she’s an accomplished dancer and dance instructor with two Best Talent awards from previous Miss Kansas pageant years. Tap is her special power, says Justin Noel Hall ’14/19, who has worked with Wages on her dance performances for the past four years now. “I’m so proud of the work I’ve been able to do with her,” he says. “I’ve gotten to underscore and spotlight her talent for tap and help the country see the magnanimous force she is, right up to her last week as Miss K.”

So what’s next for this immediate past Miss Kansas? For one thing, she’s already collecting more honors and accolades — most recently on June 17 when she was crowned with the Best Choreography award for her work in Legally Blonde: The Musical, which was staged and performed at Wichita’s Roxy’s Downtown in May.

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