For someone who didn’t aspire to beauty pageant stardom, Clark Janell Davis has a pretty good track record. This year, at age 17, she won her first two contests to become Miss Horse Capital of the World and then Miss Kentucky 2015.
“I was never ‘Toddlers and Tiaras,’” Davis says, referencing the reality television show about child beauty pageant contestants. “I just wanted to try something different. I love doing new things because I might just find out I’m good at it, and I did.”
Davis appeared on Connections with KET’s Renee Shaw to discuss her passion for dyslexia awareness, and her future aspirations beyond the Miss Kentucky title.
Helping Others Understand Dyslexia
As Miss Kentucky, Davis travels the state speaking to school and community groups, and representing the state Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud program. She exudes a powerful blend of confidence and humility as she talks about her path through life.
The Lexington native was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in third grade. Despite her learning difficulties, Davis says she and her mother were determined that she would not be held back in school. So with long hours of diligent work, Davis not only kept up with her classmates, she even graduated high school early and scored all As in the process.
Davis says her dyslexia not only affects how she comprehends information but also how her body functions. She explains that after she reads a paragraph of text, she will begin to feel cold and her eyes will become heavy because her brain is devoting so much energy to comprehending what she’s reading. Davis discusses these physical side effects when she talks at schools around the commonwealth so teachers will better understand what dyslexic students experience.
“I really try to reiterate that teachers need to be patient – that not every student is lazy, not every student doesn’t want to work,” Davis says “There are students that want to do as well as all of their friends, and they’re trying just as hard but it’s not taking them as far.”
Davis has even started her own foundation to fund teacher training on multi-sensory techniques that can help dyslexic students learn.
A Goal for Higher Office
The drive and focus that helped Davis academically also have benefited her creatively, physically, and spiritually as well. She has a full scholarship to study vocal performance at the University of Kentucky, where UK Opera Theater director Everett McCorvey calls Davis “a star.”
“I’m singing because it’s fun and not because I want to become the best opera singer ever,” Davis says. “I just want to be the best singer that I can be, and [know] that I’m having fun with it and that it’s impacting other people’s lives.”
She also undertook a six-month exercise and healthy eating regime that helped her lose 50 pounds. Davis says she didn’t care about having the best body on the beauty pageant circuit. She lost weight to help herself feel better and to have more confidence on stage.
And Davis is a devout Christian. She says she felt called to complete high school early, and she says God has even bigger plans for her. Davis recounts an experience she had in her freshman government class when God told her she would be president one day. She says her big heart and compassion for people would make her good at the job, plus she’s already gaining practice with a key political skill.
“As Miss Kentucky, it’s cool I get to interact with so many different people and really get to take in stories,” Davis says. “I get this time to just listen, to just be quiet and not necessarily voice my opinion on everything, but to take in everyone else’s opinions, and that’s what I love and think will help me be successful.”