Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Highly Successful Woman in Her Own Right: Professor Kim Emery-Poulin, Today's International Woman Ultimate Queen 2018

Women's empowerment means breaking down the stereotypes and boundaries of what we can achieve… to never settle for "good enough" or allow others to dictate your worth.

Professor Kim Emery-Poulin, Today's International Woman Ultimate Queen 2018, is a published writer, professor, philanthropist, and a beauty queen. She might have a lot up her sleeve, but Kim's feet remain firmly on the ground.

When we asked her claim to fame, her family and daughter's remarks will melt your heart, "I'm not sure I can claim fame, per se. However, in asking my family how they would answer this question, they replied, "People know you for your quirky sense of humor, charisma, honesty, intelligence and strength. You put family first and are loyal to all in your life. You are constantly learning new things and are never without a book!" My daughter further explains, "You are always smiling and trying to help other people no matter what. You always find ways to fix problems and make life exciting. You are the bravest person in the whole world, and I know kids always say this, but I really DO want to be just like you!"

Career and Family Life

I have been a middle school English Language Arts & Intensive Reading teacher and an Instructional Leader of Literacy for over 20 years. I have a bachelor's degree in English & Secondary Education, a master's degree in Instructional Technology, and will complete a doctorate in Educational Law following my dissertation this summer. I also hold certificates in Special Education (ESE), Reading and English as a Second Language (ESOL). It is my goal to open a private practice, advocating for students & families who are struggling to obtain ESE services, are the victims of bullying, and/or are otherwise in need of legal counsel to succeed in school. I am a published writer, having articles published in the Charlotte Sun Newspaper (FL) and Springfield Union-News (MA), as well as various pageant & modeling magazines. I have published educational articles in numerous trade publications, including the Association for Curriculum & Development and International Society for Technology in Education.

For the past 14 years, I have been married to a wonderful man, Corey and am the proud mother to one beautiful 12-year-old girl, Allie Mae, who is a 4th generation pageant participant. She is the reigning Today's International Woman Florida Jr. Teen and has won numerous titles including American Natural Beauties, Florida Sunburst, World's Most Beautiful Natural Ultimate Supreme, and Royal Majesty Grand Supreme.

Her Advocacy

My platform is "TA-DA, Totally Accepting Different Abilities." In 1978, at the age of 2 (two), I fell into a Locke Machine riding lawnmower, stopping the exposed blades with my knees and left arm. I was left with a fused left leg that until the age of 31 did not bend and caused me to have a moderate to severe limp. To this day, I still limp as well as have extensive scarring and disfiguration as a result of the accident and subsequent surgeries.

Due to the accident, I was extensively and severely bullied every day at school, and while out in the community, gawked at or questioned in the most obscure, insulting manner possible. From these experiences, TA-DA was born, first as a way for me to speak in public regarding how to interact and relate to those with different abilities. Over time, the program grew to encompass anti-bullying, and I wrote a full year's worth of curriculum and events to be taught in schools at no cost to the educator or district.

Currently, 78 TA-DA Coordinators use the curriculum in schools across America through the formation of TA-DA Clubs. The curriculum, which begins with understanding those with different abilities and encompasses how and what to do if being bullied, to helping families and friends who are being bullied, to how to aid a bully, has an average success rate after one year of a 43% decrease in school-wide bullying. Schools that began a club in 2008 have, to date, a 96% decrease in bullying!

As of January 2019, 18 school districts have adopted the TA-DA curriculum & program as an accredited part of their district-wide character education program, including the school system where I once felt I had nowhere to turn. Knowing that the very places I once experienced bullying will now have a systematic program and ready resources in place to counter this very real epidemic has closed the very last of the cracks bullying left on my spirit.

Pageantry Involvement

I began participating in pageantry at the age of 12 for several reasons. Both my Mimi and mother participated in pageantry, making me a 3rd generation, "pageant gal!" Though neither suggested I compete, preferring I decide of my own volition, as soon as I expressed an interest my Mimi became my coach and most avid supporter. (Sadly, my mother was not as supportive, fearing I would be harshly judged for having a disability.)The memories I have of preparing and attending pageants with Mimi, especially my favorite pageant which involved winning she and I a trip to Disney World for being crowned the Shining Stars Pageant Expo Grand Supreme, are priceless.

I also began competing when a classmate told me that "you can never enter or win pageants because you limp! The judges will never pick a cripple winner." Her statement motivated me to not only prove her ideas as false but also to do my very best to become an inspiration for all people with disabilities, motivating them to never stop striving for their dreams. I vowed to show, through example just how competitive & successful differently abled people can be in pageantry.

As Today's International Woman Ultimate Queen

Tell us more about Today's International Woman (TIW)?

TIW is a pageant that celebrates all women no matter their faith, race, dress size, or physical ability. Developed on a platform of anti-bullying, it is a truly safe system where all women, no matter their experience, can come to feel glamorous, make connections with strong, like-minded, charitable women & men, and participate in a friendly competition to represent an international title.

TIW is a service-based system and all titleholders, from the state through the Ultimate Queen, are required to participate in at least one community service project per month. They can participate in their own platform events or assist a sister queen through attending an event for her platform, awareness & support system we call "Monthly Missions," which is a program I developed as the 2013 TIW Queen of Queens.

I am so proud of how TIW has grown since its inception in 2011 and since my first involvement in 2013. In 2018, an Ultimate Queen title was added where former international winners & lifetime queens compete for the highest of all TIW titles while this year, for the very first time, TIW will crown a Jr. Queen of Queens! This young lady will come from the Preteen. Jr. Teen, and Teen groups (ages 7-17) and be the delegate with the highest total score from personality interview, fashion, evening gown, and platform presentation. She will reign alongside the Queen of Queens selected from the 18 and over women and be a voice and role model to today's youth.

Why did you choose TIW system?

I chose TIW in 2013, again in 2018, and now in 2019 for my daughter because I believe that the director Jera Lynn has, above all else, a good and kind heart. She works tirelessly to provide opportunities for her delegates and titleholders, to welcome new people into the system, and to expand the system in order to keep up with the times. Meanwhile, Jera continues to uphold and honor the same "old school pageant" morals instilled in me by my Mimi, those of fair competition, equality, family, and charity.

I also believe that TIW allows its delegates to be exactly who they are without labels or being asked to cover/alter their day-to-day persona. Have tattoos? Colored hair? Been told you are "too short, too thin, too curvy, too inexperienced, too experienced, too too too?" If so, TIW is for YOU!

Her definition of beauty

Beauty comes from within. It begins with the strength of character, honesty, and acceptance of all, loving people for their uniqueness. When a person is accepting of others, can see and appreciate them for their individual personalities, they are truly beautiful. That beauty will shine through the light in their eyes, the genuineness of their smile, the warmth of their voice.

On Women Empowerment 

To me, women's empowerment means breaking down the stereotypes and boundaries of what we can achieve… to never settle for "good enough" or allow others to dictate your worth. As I try to impress upon my daughter, "Never settle… always challenge!" This may mean challenging yourself and what you think you can accomplish or setting a goal only to reach it and then setting a new, higher goal. I believe that having a Growth Mindset, a mindset of always learning and always improving through self-reflection & in this way, we are constantly evolving.

I also believe that a truly empowered woman can fully and without restraint, encourage, support, and celebrate the successes of other women! They know and share that true power comes not through celebrating the "self," but in celebrating those around them. This type of confidence is contagious and will only serve to make all women stronger individually and collectively.

Her Legacy

What would you like people to remember about you?

It is my hope that when people remember me, they remember that despite any obstacle sent my way, I optimistically have tried my best to overcome them as my motto illustrates. When your mind can conceive it, and in your heart, you believe it, you will achieve it!

Learn more about Today's International Woman, visit  www.todaysinternationalwoman.com

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