Kate Gwyn: The Girl On Fire

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By Alina Croft (Instagram: lina_gail, Twitter: alina_croft)

Kate Gwyn is an impressive 16-year-old young woman from Elko, NV. Kate is working hard to make her mark on our community and grow as a person through her involvement with the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Organization. 

About Four Years Ago…

When Kate was 12-years-old, I (Intern Alina) was Miss Elko County’s Outstanding Teen 2016. This is important because, with my title, I was expected to be a mentor to young ladies in the Elko community through the Princess Program, designed to teach skills and prepare these girls to compete once they turned 13-years-old if they decided. I asked Kate to be my princess when I went to compete for Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen title that summer, and she agreed, beginning her own journey through the Miss America Scholarship Organization. 

Kate completed her year as a princess and then decided to compete to take over my crown in 2017. 

“I got involved in the organization because you invited me to be your princess for Miss Nevada. That started me wanting to be in pageants of my own. I didn’t really think of pageants before, and after that, I’ve always had an interest in competing locally,” said Kate.

Miss Elko’s Outstanding Teen 2017

Kate followed her dream and did compete in 2017. 

“When I first competed, nobody thought I was going to win because I had just turned 13 and I had just come out of sixth grade. I was mostly competing to compete, doing my best obviously, and then I won, which was cool,” said Kate. “You crowned me, and it was really fun. I was also Miss Congeniality that year.”

Kate thinks she knows her secret to success for winning that year.

“I was very confident going in, everybody else was not confident with me, but I was like ‘I’m going to do monologues, and I’m going to have a pretty dress, and I’m going to prep myself for interview.’ The confidence and the humility I had for the local title was really what I think helped me win,” said Kate. “It was just something that came naturally to me, competing and having the confidence to walk on stage. I also had the help of you and other previous titleholders, and it was rewarding to win.” 

Once Kate had secured her crown and sash, it was time to gear up for her turn at Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen in Las Vegas. 

“Locally, it was very different than for State because State had a lot more preparation, but it was a good experience going into it,” said Kate. 


Once Kate’s title as Miss Elko’s Outstanding Teen 2017 ended, she took some time off from competing but realized she had learned some essential lessons going forward. 

“That year was really hectic being in middle school and figuring out how to handle guy attention. I think my year as a 13-year-old with a crown and sash taught me how to handle the attention that comes with having a title,” said Kate. 

The lessons came from feeling the pressure of being young and in the public eye.

“I didn’t handle it very well when I had that title, but it did help me grow into handling it better. Different situations and also taught me I need to stay humble if I were to win a title again because I was very cocky after I won and after I competed at Miss Nevada,” said Kate. “It definitely humbled me after my year.” 

Kate and Advocacy 

Kate recently started her new title as Miss Valley of Fire’s Outstanding Teen 2021. With her new title, she is hoping to spread awareness and raise funds for her platform, a cause she advocates for, and continue gaining new skills, experiences, and perspectives on life. 

“I just got my title; it’s fairly new. So far, I haven’t been able to do a whole lot with it, just setting up the accounts to raise funds and preparing for Miss Nevada,” said Kate. “I do have things planned for my platform to come, though.”

What are those plans, you ask?

“I plan on using my crown to sell cake pops to raise awareness for and money for my platform, PANDAS Network. They’re going to be called Panda Pops and look like little pandas. Hopefully, several small things like that,” said Kate. 

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. It is a rare disease and is discussed very little, even in the medical community.

“PANDAS Network helps to raise awareness for the autoimmune disorder. It’s an autoimmune reaction to having had strep throat. It’s mostly in little kids. Older kids and adults can get it too, though it is very uncommon,” said Kate. 

Like other autoimmune disorders, PANDAS causes severe impacts to the body of the carrier with many side effects. 

“It causes the brain to be very flared and swell, and it makes it hard to think straight. I’m hoping to make people aware of it because not even a whole lot of doctors know about it,” said Kate. 

Kate herself found out about PANDAS when someone close to her contracted the disorder. 

“I became aware of PANDAS because of a family member. They had it for a while and didn’t know it, making it very hard on them and also hard on me. I didn’t know it could happen, so it was very hard to see somebody go through that in the way that they did,” said Kate. 

Kate was stuck on the issue once she found out about it, learning all that she could.

“I thought it was very interesting, and I researched it. Not many doctors know about it; I’ve asked several about it, and maybe only about one out of fifty know about it. It’s crazy to find a doctor that knows about it,” said Kate. 

Kate’s Advice

In her interview, Kate had a final message that she felt needed to be shared considering the crazy situation we are all living through right now.

“Right now, I think it’s important to come together as a community because everybody may have their perspective on how to handle COVID-19, but I think it is such an important thing to at least wear a mask. Even if you don’t think it does anything, you should at least have that respect for others,” said Kate. “Everyone should come together, without literally coming together, as a community to be one with each other.”

Wise words from a 16-year-old. As always, Anthony Around Town-er’s, I suggest you try out this week’s advice. 

See you next week!

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Until next time, we’ll see you around, Elko!

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