Katherine Beasley: A Distinguished Young Woman

Eighteen-year-old Katherine Beasley is going places—all the time. Now with her most recent distinction, she has been awarded a full four-year scholarship to attend the University of Alabama.
On August 19, Katherine, daughter of Kristie and John Beasley of Conway, was the 2018 winner for Distinguished Young Women in Arkansas. Among her awards were Overall Fitness, Overall Interview, Overall Scholastic and Overall Self-Expression.
Katherine will now compete in the National Distinguished Young Women program in Mobile, Alabama in June 2018. For those unfamiliar with this program, it was formerly called American Junior Miss. Contestants are judged in five areas, scholastic, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression, and $55,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the top three contestants. Over $1.5 billion in college grants and cash scholarships are awarded each year to participants.
But Katherine has other places to go before next June. After Thanksgiving, she will be going to Poland to compete with the USA Dance Jazz and Contemporary Dance Team. This is an Olympic-level team that will compete against thousands of dancers from 96 countries. There are opening ceremonies much like the familiar ones seen every four years.
The 13-member team is made up of dancers from different states and is currently receiving additional training in Little Rock. They were chosen by the International Olympic Committee after submitting a video showing their technique. Rehearsals can involve ten hours of dance each day.
All contestants will compete the first day in two events—jazz and modern contemporary. Cuts will then be made to the top twelve. Although the girls will be busy competing most of the time, one tourist day has been scheduled so that they can visit some of the nearby historical sites like Auschwitz and some of the old Polish castles.
The team is being sponsored by SoDanca, a dance apparel and clothing company that is providing $200 in custom leotards, leggings, etc. They are also being sponsored by Pumpers, a dance costume designer.
Another place Katherine went this last summer was a week-long Summer Intensive with the Radio City Rockettes. Participants must work hard to get used to the style before they go to the invitational week and are chosen each year by audition. Practices are done in a secret location under high security. At the end of the week, the girls perform at New York University’s Skirball Auditorium.
“There is a high level of professionalism, they are very precise. Sometimes everyone has to start over again because one didn’t conform,” Katherine said about her week with the Rockettes. Katherine would one day like to be a part of one of the two Rockette casts.
At age three, Katherine started taking tap and ballet lessons at Sonshine Academy, and then began to add jazz and lyrical dance which is a combination of jazz and ballet. She took lessons at Ashley’s Dance Arts until it closed but now she is a competition dancer with Rock City Dance Center in Little Rock. She also does musical theatre.
In addition to competing herself, Katherine also assists in teaching eight different classes of ballet, tap and jazz at Rock City. Her students have won several dance competitions, including third in a national competition. She was also recently recognized with the Dedication Award at Rock City for her outstanding efforts.
Because of her busy dance schedule, Katherine is home schooled and takes concurrent classes at UCA. She is a political science major and plans to go to law school. Recently, she has taken on a community service project of providing backpacks of food to local elementary school students.
During the Distinguished Young Women competition, Krista Brimer, the state president of the organization, led a similar community service project by having the contestants bring ten items each for students in the Bald Knob area. Katherine liked the idea so much that she has started her own program in Conway.
She collects slightly-used backpacks and lunch boxes which she then fills with nonperishable items that she gets at Sam’s Club. She is currently providing them to nurses in four schools in the Conway district, but plans to expand the program to all the schools in the district.