She did it for the money. For more than $2,000 in scholarship money to be exact. Just a year ago, La Kia Simms was attending similar rehearsals for the same pageant, and then went on to be crowned Miss La Verne 2003.
A junior psychology major at the University of La Verne, La Kia, 21, known as Kia by friends and family, has had an eventful year. In order to receive the $1,200 pageant scholarship money, Simms had to meet many social obligations during her reign. Her first event was visiting the University of La Verne’s radio station KULV as a guest speaker on “The Blonde Bombshell’s” morning show. Since then, she has attended La Verne’s Fourth of July parade, the Los Angeles County Fair, the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and Rotary lunches where she had the chance to get to know the people of La Verne better. Simms also attended other pageants in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles County as visiting queen. Apart from the city functions she participated in, Simms was also required to compete in the Miss California pageant in Sacramento June 2003.
Competing at Miss California, which is the next step to the Miss America scholarship program, changed Simm’s preconceptions about the pageant itself. “I really didn’t like the idea of competition, but the girls changed my view of the pageant because they were all so friendly and helpful and fun.” She says this was “the toughest year of my life.” Simms, 20 at the time, was relieved to find so much support from the citizens of La Verne. “The city of La Verne and the mayor have been really good to me. They welcomed me with open arms.”