miss kansas drumming

Taylor Clark performs her percussion routine as Miss Kansas at the Western Athletic Conference League Marching Festival in Great Bend, Kansas.

Each year, participants in the Miss Kansas pageant compete for a chance to represent their state on the Miss America stage. On July 10, Taylor Clark of St. John, Kansas, took home the crown.

A senior at Kansas State University studying Music Education, Clark became interested in pageantry at a young age. At 5-years-old, Clark started attending the Sunflower Mentoring Program, an organization for potential Miss Kansas contestants to learn about the pageant.  

“I was very scared to speak up for myself, even after going to that mentoring program,” Clark said. “I hid what I wanted to do for a long time – I told everyone that I wanted to be an engineer, but deep down I knew I wanted to be a music teacher. So just being around other women who were not afraid to share their opinions inspired me to turn around and do that as well, and that helped to shape my platform for this year.”

Clark went on to win Miss Kansas Outstanding teen in 2017 when she was 17. In 2019, Clark competed in her first Miss Kansas competition where she was crowned winner with the help of a drum performance.

“I’ve been playing drums ever since I was gifted one, and I really fell in love with it,” Clark said. “Having that drumset really helped me to find my voice and find my confidence, and I want my confidence to shine through others and help empower others through music.”

Clark’s passion for music inspired her social impact initiative, Sound for Common Ground: Music Connects. While Clark had previously developed this initiative on her own, she has since combined it with the Miss Kansas and Miss America organizations to help broaden its reach.

“It used to be called Band Together: Music Education for All because I’m really passionate about educating our youth with music, and then I decided to diversify it and make it more wide-reaching,” Clark said. “Music doesn’t stop at the end of our K-12 journey. It extends into life, and the community. It’s now about using music as an ice-breaker to help us all have conversations.”

With Clark’s constant stream of new goals and projects, Stephanie Harris, Clark’s booking manager, helps Miss Kansas stay on schedule.

“It’s a lot of fun and a lot of hard work,” Harris said. “You get to see the young women put in the hard work, but it’s always rewarding to see when they obtain that goal. And just knowing that all the skills that they’ve obtained over the course of a year will launch them even further in their career paths and their future educational endeavors.”

Clark has become an inspiration to others in the Miss Kansas competition realm. Gracie Hendrickson, the 2021 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen, has valued getting to work closely with Clark and learn from her.

“She really is such a light,” Hendrickson said. “I think that’s a great word to describe her just because she’s always making sure that everybody in the room feels loved and welcomed, and she speaks with such love and grace. Her poise is amazing, and I think anyone that’s around her can see that she really is just a bright light.”

Throughout her remaining time as Miss Kansas, Clark said she hopes to continue to grow her scholarship program as well as work on her latest partnership with Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It’s extremely transformative – the opportunities that are presented to you,” Clark said. “I think there are just so many opportunities that once you reach out and learn a little bit about the Miss Kansas program, you can see that doors will begin to open almost immediately.”