A-B Tech student Kahlani Jackson made history when she was crowned the first African American Miss Asheville in the pageant’s 67-year history.
In June, she will compete for the title of Miss North Carolina, whose winner goes on to the Miss America pageant.
Jackson is enrolled as a Digital Media Technology student. She was also a recipient of the Grace Joan Love Schneider Endowed Scholarship.
“A-B Tech has been a blessing to me,” she said. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer she had to leave Queens University of Charlotte, where she was taking classes. “I wanted to continue my education and go to school, because when you stop taking classes you kind of get out of the groove, and I did not want that to happen. A-B Tech was a very easy transition. The staff and the faculty have assisted me tremendously.”
The school was also supportive in Jackson’s quest for the crown. She took Pilates classes at the college to keep herself healthy, and was very conscious of the importance of healthy eating and exercise. She admits that when she won the Miss Asheville pageant, she did have “celebratory Krispy Kreme doughnuts.” But now she’s back to clean, healthy living, which informs her service platform, “Primped and Polished,” an enrichment program for young women covering an array of life skills.
Jackson works as a Program Planner at the Shiloh Community Center, in the neighborhood where she grew up. “When I was a child, I used to go to the community center and participate in events,” she said. When she got older she started working at the summer camps sponsored by Asheville Parks & Recreation to see if she liked it. It turns out she did.
“I love working with kids. It turned into me being here permanently after I came home to take care of my mother. Parks and Rec is a wonderful profession. I get paid to play, interact with the community, and teach people health and living tips. It’s been amazing,” she said.
Newly crowned and gowned, Jackson was featured in the Asheville Holiday parade this year. “It was one of the most remarkable days of my life, because I saw so many people in the community that I had impacted beneficially. I even saw some old friends and family like Mrs. Waters, my middle school bus driver. I actually cried most of the time – though I tried not to.
Kahlani Jackson clearly understands why she felt overwhelmed. “I made history, and at that moment I felt the significance of being crowned Miss Asheville. I know I am opening doors in my community. Other girls will know they can do anything they can put their minds to.”
And so they can.