This year’s reigning Miss Orange County, Katie Wayland, 19, will take her title to the Miss California competition in Fresno this June, vying for scholarship opportunities and the chance to represent her hometown in the Miss America organization. An accomplished rock ’n’ roll singer, Katie plans to show off her considerable vocal chops and also speak about her chosen platform, Vision to Victory, a non-profit organization that assists wounded veterans.
Growing up in Orange, Katie acquired the singing bug at an early age. She says she was influenced by her father, Mark Wayland, who introduced her to the music of the great vocal legends like Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin.
“My dad is my hero and he’s the reason I sing, because he blasted Aretha on the stereo 24/7,” Katie said. “He pushes me to do my best and has taught me that with determination an individual can do a lot of things really well. He’s a modern-day renaissance man.”
Mark’s involvement with veteran organizations is well known in Orange. A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Mark presides over the flag-lowering ceremony every Wednesday evening in the Old Towne Plaza. Katie spends as much time with her father as she can, supporting his efforts with the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that offers motorcade services for military funerals.
“I’ve come to understand the gravity of war on a personal level, and it’s been a real eye-opener that’s helped me to bring my platform, Vision to Victory, closer to my heart,” she said. “It’s a great organization because it helps wounded veterans get wishes granted, anything from having a bill paid to providing transportation for a trip. I’m very influenced by my dad’s involvement.”
As Miss Orange County, Katie is also active with children’s charities, speaking at CHOC Hospital and helping to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network through the Miss America organization.
“It is cool to see first-hand how the money is used at the hospital,” she said. “It’s very personal for me.”
Katie says she is looking forward to competing in the pageant, especially because she will be accompanied by her friends, Megan Wisler, Miss City of Orange, who will be her “sister queen” at the event, as well as Stephanie Patterson, who is this year’s Miss South Coast. The trio will drive up to Fresno together, where a full week of competition includes interviews and performances. Katie plans to rock the pageant with her version of “The Show Must Go On” by Queen.
“I’m really happy to be involved with the Miss America organization and would love to change people’s perceptions about pageants,” Katie said. “The girls are there for scholarship opportunities and to better themselves. These girls are the best of the best and are great role models doing really good things with their lives. They have high goals, and the entire experience is helping me to become more mature and prioritize things for the future.”
A hometown girl, Katie plans to stay in Orange during her college years and is setting the stage for a career as a singer in a rock band.
“I’ve been very blessed to live here all of my life and to have built such incredible bonds with so many people. It’s a small town in a big city, and it’s the best place in the world.”