Published On: Sun, Mar 8th, 2020

From dare to reality: FAU student Ashley Klement’s road to becoming 2020’s Miss Palm Beach County

Photo provided by Ashley Klement via Instagram

When most girls are little, participating in beauty pageants to look as if they were a Disney Princess can be a dream come true.

However, for Florida Atlantic University junior Ashley Klement, pageants were an unfamiliarity until she watched the Miss America Pageant in 2018 on TV when Brown University graduate Cara Mund became the first participant to win from North Dakota.

This is where Klement grew interested in the pageant process, but without her friends persuasion for her to participate, she may have never even been crowned the Miss Palm Beach County title that she won on Jan. 18.

“I remember in 2018 I googled ‘Miss America Pageants near me,’ emailed a lady, and exchanged information for the Miss Broward County Pageant,” Klement said. “I never saw it going anywhere until my friends dared me to do it, and I ended up getting first runner-up in my very first pageant.”

Although Klement did not win Miss Broward County, it’s what started her journey of competing in pageants, in which she participated in another pageant a week later, where she received first runner-up again. While feeling disappointed of not receiving a title in 2018, she did win $1,000 in scholarships that could be applied to tuition, textbooks and other college expenses.

Once 2019 began, Klement competed in Miss Broward County again and won to move onto the Miss Florida Pageant that June. Despite not winning Miss Florida and already having Miss Broward County under her belt, Klement then found Miss Palm Beach County and immediately gained the attention of the judges and her peers, not only from her appearance, but her talent of martial arts.

“I’ve been a martial artist for nearly 13 years, so I do a creative martial arts performance with weapons,” Klement said. “The talent portion makes up [about] 40 percent of the scores, so I just worked really hard on that part of the competition.”

While the talent portion is actually worth 35 percent, along with red carpet appearance and the on-stage interview each accounting for 15 percent, according to the Miss America Organization’s State and Local Scoring, the other 35 percent of the scores come from the contestant’s answers to the questions posed in the private interview portion before the actual pageant.

Even with this format in scoring, Klement went on to win more than $5,000 in scholarship money between 2018 and 2019. Now, as Miss Palm Beach County, Klement has already begun preparation for her return to the Miss Florida Pageant this June, where she hopes to avenge her loss from last year.

“I made so many friends at Miss Florida last year, so I’m beyond excited to get the opportunity to go back and see them,” Klement said. “I currently have an awesome board of team members as Miss Palm Beach County, so they all have been holding workshops for me to work on and perfect each part of the [Miss Florida] competition.”

As Klement is still a full time student at FAU, where she is majoring in Health Science and minoring in Health Administration, one of her roommates and friends at the university, sophomore Arley Imbimbo, is also one of those friends that created the dare, which began Klement’s journey to pageantry.

Imbimbo, who has attended every one of Klement’s pageants, described that while she has seen improvement from her in each aspect of the competition, her confidence has also increased, as she continues to learn and practice.

“Every time she steps on the stage, Ashley continually gets better after each pageant and interview she takes part in,” Imbimbo said. “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to cheer her on [at Miss Palm Beach County] and I have no doubt that she will win [Miss Florida] because she definitely has what it takes.”

With more than two months until the Miss Florida Pageant kicks off in Lakeland, Fla. in late June, where official dates will be announced closer to the month, Klement will have the chance to win more than $50,000 in scholarships if crowned the title. 

Despite still being focused on winning, the experiences and connections she has made impacted her life and she hopes to encourage more girls to compete in pageants in the future, according to herself. 

“Overall, pageants have brought nothing, but positivity into the world for me,” Klement said. “Because of the Miss America Organization, I haven’t had to pay out of pocket for any of my textbooks at FAU and it’s unfortunate that more girls don’t compete, but I’d like to change that.”

About the Author

- Justin Baronoff is currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He is pursuing a major in Multimedia Journalism, where he hopes to some day write for major news media publications, such as the New York Times, ESPN, or even Billboard Magazine. In high school, Justin wrote for his high school newspaper for three years where he was a staff reporter for the first two years before becoming the Sports Editor in his final year. At FAU during the first semester of his sophomore year, he began interning for, where he wrote about and covered his favorite professional football team, the New York Jets, and his favorite professional basketball team, the New York Knicks. Then during his second semester of his sophomore year, he began writing for FAU's student newspaper, the University Press, as a contributing writer. Justin now serves a News Writer Intern for the Boca Raton Tribune.

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