BONNEY LAKE — A local Miss Pierce County Outstanding Teen winner may not have moved up the Miss Outstanding Teen food chain, but her efforts in speaking up about sexual violence have been noticed by some important figures.
Chloe Furnstahl, 14, from Bonney Lake was crowned Miss Pierce County Outstanding Teen last March, and was the runner up in the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen competition at the end of May.
This was Furnstalh’s first-ever pageant, and she was one of the youngest girls in this year’s competition.
“I didn’t really think I would get that far,” Furnstahl said in an interview. “I thought I would make it top 10, and that would be it.”
Placing second means she can try again for Miss Washington Outstanding Teen, but she’s not convinced that’s something she wants to do, especially with all that’s going to be happening between now and the next Miss Pierce County Teen pageant.
Furnstahl was also named a top five finalist in the Teen in Action portion of the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen competition.
All pageant competitors have a platform, and submit essays on their platform to judges. Of those, the top five essays are chosen to have an in-person interview, where a winner is selected.
Furnstahl’s platform is “Victim to Victorious,” and focuses on how difficult it can be for survivors of sexual assaults to navigate the legal system.
She herself is a survivor of sexual assault, and Furnstahl and her parents spent five years inside the Washington court system before a jury ruled in her favor.
Her platform didn’t get the top award, but it did attract the attention of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s Speakers Bureau, which Furnstahl will be training with to be a public speaker for them later in June.
Being a part of the Speakers Bureau will give Furnstahl the chance to talk to a wide range of people about her experiences on sexual assault, from media outlets to social service groups and even lawmakers.
Separate from KCSARC, she also spoke about her platform at luncheon hosted by the Tacoma Elks Club on June 9.
You might think these speaking events would be more than enough to rattle her, but “I’m more nervous about going to high school,” Furnstahl said.
She’ll be starting at Auburn Riverside in the fall, and will be joining the school’s Bella Voce choir.
This story was first published in The Courier-Herald.