Leader Blues

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TOP STORY >>She's not your typical beauty queen

IN SHORT: Being in the Air Force doesn’t stop her from taking part in other interests.

Leader staff writer

Lt. Kelly George is not your typical airman. Neither is she your typical beauty queen.

Miss Air Force 2003, George, 24, of the 314th Airlift Wing’s Strategic Information Command, will compete in the Miss Arkansas USA pageant Saturday night in the Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

A surfer raised in Mission Viejo, Calif., George entered her first pageant as a senior at Trabuco Hills High School, earning a spot among the top 25 in Miss Teenage California and getting $1,000 for being voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ among the contestants.

In the 20 or so pageants she’s competed in, George estimates she’s won about $25,000 in scholarship money to pay for her education at the University of Maryland.

George was in her freshman year at University of Maryland during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Not long afterward, she joined the Air Force.

“I guess I’m idealistic. I wanted to do something to make a difference,” George said.

While earning her bachelor’s of communication, she interned at the Pentagon, escorting media for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

After graduating in May 2005, she moved to her first duty station, Little Rock Air Force Base.

“Last summer when we (Little Rock Air Force Base) were the hub for international aid for Hurricane Katrina relief, I had only been on base for a couple of months so I really had to hit the ground running,” George said.

With all the media attention focused on the supplies being flown out of LRAFB, George, like many airmen, found herself getting by on a couple hours of sleep every couple of days.

“One night I did a phone interview with the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) while I was in my pajamas. I hadn’t had any official training yet,” George said. She is now pursing a master’s of art in interpersonal and organizational communications from the Univer-sity of Arkansas at Little Rock.

She doubts if her sisters, Karyn 21, and Kristen, 19, both attending college in California, will follow her in to the Air Force.
“My family is always a little nervous for my safety but they know how much I enjoy it,” George said. Even with a short time in the service, George has already witnessed the change that each generation of airmen bring with them.

“My fellow airmen are so bright and have such fresh, new ideas on how to do things and make improvements. It’s satisfying to watch their achievements get recognized and shared,” George said.

“I like that I get to find out about other people’s jobs as part of my job and I enjoy knowing how someone’s story fits into the bigger picture of the Air Force,” George said.

Being a spokesman for the military has prepared her for being a spokesman for the state as Miss Arkansas USA and both are great ways to be a role model for young women, George said. “You might not look like the girl next to you but you have something unique to offer. It’s not about being cocky, it’s about being comfortable,” George said.

The winner of Miss Arkansas USA will compete in the Miss USA pageant, a qualifier for Miss Universe.