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“PowHERFul” Alumna Making A Difference Across Virginia

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by Alexis Barton

Recent graduate Katherine Clatterbuck ‘22 devoted much of her time at Roanoke to studying the effects of representation and the influence of female empowerment on the identity of young people. As an education professional studies major, Clatterbuck placed this research in the setting of the classroom as she evaluated the impact on students, particularly students of color and young girls. She shared her research at the Virginia Conference on Race and in other academic settings on campus, but she recently had the opportunity to take this work to the big stage. 

In August, Katherine competed in the Miss Virginia Volunteer Pageant representing her hometown of Danville, VA. After nearly two years of serving as the local titleholder, Clatterbuck went for the state title one more time, and was successful this year. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a charitable cause or initiative that they want to support throughout their preparation for the pageant. Clatterbuck used this opportunity to share her academic passions with the pageant world through her PowHerFul voices initiative. Clatterbuck identified a significant lack of representation in the historical figures highlighted in Virginia’s statewide standards of learning, which led her to promote additional female figures from diverse backgrounds. Clatterbuck visited schools in the Roanoke Valley as well as in the Danville area to promote these ideas of empowerment and inclusion to young students. These events, partnered with school supply drives and other events supporting education in the state, proved to be a unique intersection of Katherine’s academic passions and her pageant background. 

While the structure of the pageant itself is similar to the Miss America system and other state-level pageants, the Miss Virginia Volunteer pageant is described as, “more than a competition… a community that provides connections, opportunities, and lasting impact for young women in our state” according to their website (2020). The organization prides itself in its emphasis on community service and body positivity, rather than promoting unattainable body standards and superficial characteristics of contestants. For the next year, Clatterbuck will serve as Miss Virginia Volunteer and will take her advocacy across the state of Virginia. She will serve in this role while also working as a middle school teacher and navigating life after graduation.