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thumb Pageant20Headshots_Goodwin20Photography-3591Kassie Perkins, junior accounting major at Tennessee Tech University, is to compete for the title of Miss International in August, after being crowned Miss Tennessee International for 2014.

Contestants from around the world spend the year advocating a platform for their charity work. Perkins’ platform, “Keeping Children a Page Ahead,” is a charity she started three years ago. The Sunbright, Tenn., native goes to different Tennessee schools and reads to children. So far, she has read to more than 7,000 students and makes two appearances a week.

“As cliché as it sounds, having a crown and sash opens a ton of doors,” Perkins said. “People know you’ve had to work very hard to get where you are and you must be credible if you have them.”

Accounting was not Perkins’ first career choice and she insists math is not her strong point. Instead she chose her major because it did not come easily. She says the difficult academics are teaching her the value of patience and the skills necessary to turn her platform into a nonprofit organization.

Perkins has also raised more than $2,000 for the Imagination Library, Dolly Parton’s organization that delivers one book per month to each child in the program.

Not just a beauty queen, Perkins is a children’s author as well. Her self-published book, “Where There is a Will, There is a Way,” will be released later this month and will teach children about self-esteem and persistence.

“The title itself really means a lot to me,” Perkins said. “It is something my mom has told me for as long as I can remember: if you will it enough, it will happen.”

One of Perkins’ favorite projects is her southern belle class, where she visits small-town middle schools and gives makeup and hair advice to young girls. At the same time, she talks about the importance of maintaining a clean social media presence and of respecting their bodies, peers and people around them.

Though Perkins volunteers with many organizations and charities, she says she would like to see both her platform and southern belle classes expand.

“If I win Miss International, I would continue those things on an international level.”