Humans of UK: Madalyne Kinnett competes for a cause

Laurie Jonhatan

Madalyne Kinnett, a junior double majoring in marketing and merchandising, textiles and apparel, grew up dreaming of standing on the Miss USA stage. When the owner of the pageant reached out during her junior year of high school about competing, she accepted without hesitation.

“Being onstage for the first time, I felt nothing but confidence, and I think that is the best thing that pageants have brought me,” Kinnett said.

Her first competition, Miss Teen Kentucky, ended with a Top 5 placement.

“My grandmother and I had no idea what to expect going into this pageant for the first time. We just knew I needed a coach,” she said.

Kinnett’s coach helped her prepare with weekly practices, which she fit into her student life. Kinnett also worked at a COVID testing site at the start of the pandemic to help others in “huge ways.”

“Learning how to talk to people, encourage them and serve them in the best way I could was a huge advantage to bettering myself,” she said. “Being able to communicate with people is really important, and since I haven’t been actively training over the last few years, I’ve found other opportunities to grow.”

Kinnett’s freshman year of college was her last Miss Teen Kentucky competition and her third Top 5 placement. Next year will be her first time competing in Miss Kentucky, and she is excited to come back. She said the transition from competing in Miss Teen Kentucky to Miss Kentucky is a “huge step.”

“You really have to know who you are, why you want it, why it should be you,” Kinnett said.

Her desire to compete again comes from the appeal to help others and the platform that winners can raise awareness for.

“I lost my mom a few years before I competed [for] the first time, and I was also going through all the emotions and life changes that happen when you lose a parent at a young age,” Kinnett said. “I just want people to know that it is okay to not be okay, but life is worth living. It does get better, and if you don’t have a person in your life that makes you feel hopeful and encouraged, I will be that person.”

Kinnett said that competition weekends bring new friends, more self-confidence, self-determination and learning how to support and encourage others.

“I got to watch two of my friends that I competed with for years win Miss Kentucky and Miss Teen Kentucky USA,” said Kinnett. “Seeing all the girls run to them on stage and congratulate them, seeing their friends and family crying in the audience and watching them achieve their goals is why I keep coming back.”