, Muskogee, OK

March 22, 2013

Singing student strives for Miss Outstanding Teen title

By Chesley Oxendine
Times Correspondent

At 14 years old, singer Carrigan Bradley already has a full resume. She has a CD on iTunes called “Walk of Faith,” was a paid member of the Clay Cooper Theater Company and sings for local audiences regularly.

Now she’s hoping to add “statewide pageant winner” to that list of accomplishments.

Having secured a Feb 23 win at the Miss Keystone Lake Outstanding Teen Pageant, Carrigan will compete June 3–7 for the title of Miss Oklahoma Outstanding Teen at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.

“It was kind of surreal,” Carrigan said of the preliminary victory. “You work really hard, and you’re so excited when you win because all your hard work finally paid off.”

It’s also good for Carrigan’s future, said her mother, Mitzi Bradley.

“One of our main focuses is earning scholarships through the pageant for college,” Mitzi said, “so of course I’m excited about that.”

According to Miss Outstanding Teen America’s website, the Outstanding Teen pageants are responsible for nearly “$4,000,000 in cash and in-kind scholarships.”

Participants don’t necessarily have to be the winning candidates, either, Carrigan said.

“If you get in the top 5 at the pageant, you have a chance at some scholarship money,” she said. “That’s good for my college career.”

It’s not just the academic prospects that inspire anticipation for the event, however — Mitzi said her daughter is simply following her dream.

“I’m excited for her because this is something she wants to do,” Mitzi said. “I want to support her in the things she likes to do.”

Those things revolve mainly around singing and performing — something Carrigan’s been doing since she was a young girl, her mother said.

“She went to Branson and sang and worked five days a week in the theater there when she was 10 and 11,” Mitzi said. “She signed her first tax form at 11.”

It’s been a passion that leads Carrigan to a variety of venues, the high school freshman said.

“I sing all over the place,” she said. “I used to sing every week is what it felt like. It’s hard to remember all the places I’ve sang.”

Carrigan doesn’t mind, though — she said her performances are a way of getting involved with the town she lives in.

“It gets you out into the community and gets you involved,” she said. “Everyone should have some way of getting involved with the community.”

The singer’s community involvement ties into her participation in Miss Outstanding Teen Oklahoma, as well, she said.

Participants in the pageant are encouraged to represent a “platform,” or social issue they feel strongly about, according to the Miss America website.

Carrigan’s platform concerns the continued presence of musical arts classes in schools.

“Musical arts have influenced who I am so much,” she said. “I thought that schools and teachers should know how much of an influence it can have on their kids. It gives kids a chance to perform.”