Texas Voices: Teen Beauty Pageant Winner Ashlyn Cohen Overcomes Debilitating Condition and Becomes a Triple Threat in Her Quest for Success

by Bob Valleau on June 13, 2024 in Entertainment,

Teen Beauty Pageant Winner Ashlyn Cohen is making a name for herself as a triple threat (author, singer, entrepreneur) and a multi-talented ambitious young person – in spite of a severe medical condition she had to overcome while in middle school. 


In middle school, Ashlyn was diagnosed with a nerve condition that affected her ability to walk. She was forced to use a walker for almost four months while undergoing grueling and painful treatments. Yet, she persevered and eventually became Miss Chisholm Trails Teen 2023 and Miss McKinney’s Teen 2024 – prestigious titles that recognize her outstanding accomplishments in various fields. Ashlyn has always been passionate about making a positive impact within her community and a positive influence among her peers. Her resume reads like a Who’s Who for excellence in academic and life achievements: 

Ashlyn holds a 4.0 GPA and is a National Honor Society Member; she’s the owner/founder (since age 12) of a cosmetic company called Oleander Lips; she is a published author of a children’s book called Olivia the Otter (this book teaches the benefits of music to young children); she is a two-year Overall Outstanding Richardson ISD Vocal Soloist (2023/2024) and a four-year All Region Choir Member; Ashlyn was the first sophomore soprano 1 in her school’s history to make all state choir; she is the founder of a non-profit organization called Comforting and Caring Bears (C&CB) – C&CB donates teddy bears to police stations to be given to children in crisis; and, currently, she is her school’s Baton Feature Twirler –  the first to hold this title in almost 30 years!

With such an impressive resume of achievements and talent, we wanted to ask Ashlyn about her unique life’s journey so far.

Competing Locally

Ashlyn shares what inspired her to compete in local pageants. “Growing up, pageants had always amazed me. I remember when Chandler Foreman (Miss Texas 2019) came to my elementary school to speak at an assembly, and from then on I knew I wanted to be just like her one day. I was in awe of her enthusiasm and qualities. When I was finally old enough to compete in the Miss Texas Organization, I convinced my parents to allow me to compete. A year later, in November of 2022, I competed at the Miss Carrollton Competition. Though I did not win, I didn’t give up, and I kept trying until I won the title of Miss Chisholm Trail’s Teen in early 2023. I then competed for the title of Miss Texas’ Teen that summer. I had an absolute blast competing and holding the Chisholm Trail title, so of course I wanted to do it all again. I decided to compete at the Miss Carrollton/McKinney Competition again last fall. I am so grateful to have won the title of Miss McKinney’s Teen 2024, along with the Talent Award, Community Service Award and the Congeniality/Kindness Award. I’ve loved holding the title this year and I can’t wait to represent McKinney at this Miss Texas’ Teen Competition this June.” 

Living in Texas

Ashlyn Cohen believes in the importance of music education for all students. Courtesy photo.

Ashlyn loves living in Texas and welcomes opportunities where she can have an impact within her community.Everyone always says that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and I definitely agree! I love living in Texas because there are so many resources and opportunities for success. Every title holder in the Miss America Organization has a Community Service Initiative (CSI). Mine is called The Melody in Music, which focuses on providing funds for music education for underprivileged students and promoting music education for emotional health. Music education in Texas is absolutely phenomenal. There are so many organizations, educators, businesses, and resources that set Texas apart like no other state. I have used my title to make a positive impact on my community by reading my book, Olivia the Otter, and by presenting on the benefits of music on emotional health to students across the area. Because North Texas is very socioeconomically, culturally, and racially diverse, I am fortunate to reach children of all different backgrounds.”

What Sets Ashlyn Apart

Ashlyn’s ability to connect with others sets her apart from other contestants. My ability to connect with so many different people sets me apart from other contestants. I am a published children’s book author, a business owner, a nonprofit owner, a musician, and a baton twirler. These are all wonderful talking points, but more importantly they help bring me close to many different people. I believe that Miss Texas’ Teen should be someone who is able to connect with a variety of community members with different backgrounds, and is very involved in her community. 

“In addition to my different interests, I have faced difficult times in my life. In 7th grade I was diagnosed with a severe nerve condition and I was unable to walk on my own. I was forced to use a walker for almost four months while undergoing grueling and painful treatments. I didn’t have the strength to hold my flute, practice twirling or even walk on my own. Consequently, I was bullied for a long time because of it. This challenge that I faced made me see the world from an entirely different perspective. This difficult situation ultimately made me a stronger person, and I feel I can relate to Texans who have faced similar circumstances. I hope that by being very involved in my community, I can show other teens it’s possible to overcome challenges and make a positive impact.” 

Preparation and Having a Platform Is the Key to Success


Ashlyn Cohen founded a non-profit organization, Comforting and Caring Bears, to provide teddy bears to police stations to give to children in crisis. Courtesy Photo.

Ashlyn knows the importance of preparation and the importance of having a platform. “The Miss Texas’ Teen Competition has five different competition categories. Titleholders typically spend the most time preparing for a private interview. During this time, the judging panel speaks with each contestant one on one for about ten minutes. A contestant could be asked about anything, from their community outreach, to political questions, personal stories or even just questions on why the title holder would be a good fit for Miss Texas. To prepare for this, I have spent countless hours working on interview preparation and participating in mock interviews. I also traveled to North Carolina in 2023 and 2024 for a weekend intensive to prepare me for the interview.

“Next is on stage question (OSQ), my personal favorite area of competition. This is where we are given 30 seconds on stage to answer an important question regarding our community service initiative. I love OSQ because I can speak about what is important to me in front of the audience. I perform well under pressure, so OSQ gives me the opportunity to showcase that. 

“Fitness and Lifestyle is the next portion of competition, which is a great opportunity for title holders to show off their personal fitness journey and confidence. By going to twirling lessons, early morning spin classes, and taking daily walks, I am able to stay fit and show my confidence on the Miss Texas’ Teen stage. 

“Talent is the next competition, and I am set to perform an Operatic Aria – this summer I will be performing the Queen of the Night Aria. I have been taking voice lessons since I was very young, so I typically learn my pageant music on my own, and then go to my voice teacher and pageant coaches for finishing touches on the piece. This piece has the highest notes ever written for a female voice in classical music history, so I am very excited to perform it this summer. 

“Evening gown is the last portion of the competition. It’s so much fun because every contestant gets to show off their personality with their gown, and we all love to see everyone’s dresses! I prepare for an evening gown by walking in my heels consistently. Sometimes this means vacuuming my room wearing six-inch heels, but any practice is good practice!

My platform is called The Melody in Music and focuses on raising funds to support music education and promoting music for emotional health. When I was in the 6th grade, I had a friend who was very excited to be in 6th grade band class, but unfortunately was not able to participate because of the financial demand that band requires. His family had been going through a difficult situation, and were not able to afford the extra band payments. It saddened me to watch him lose this wonderful opportunity, so I decided to make a change. Since then, funds raised from my cosmetic line, Oleander Lips, have been donated to support music scholarships for students like my friend. 

“One year ago, I wrote and published a children’s book called Olivia the Otter about a young Otter who is dealing with different emotions in her life. In every page she

uses a different form of music to help her feel better. This book has a two-for-one purpose because all proceeds made from my book, which is available for purchase on Amazon.com, are donated to fund more scholarships for middle school students who cannot afford costs associated with participation in band, choir or orchestra. 

“Over the last year, I have read Olivia the Otter and delivered my interactive presentation to over 300 students. In my presentation, I use Olivia the Otter to show children how they can use music to positively impact their lives. I have had positive responses from librarians, teachers and parents regarding my book who say that the lesson is easy for children to understand and implement into their everyday life. It warms my heart each time I see that a book has been sold on Amazon, and I truly believe that each and every copy will make a lasting impact on a child’s life.” 

Future Goals and Aspirations

Ashlyn Cohen hopes to place in the top 10 at the Miss Texas’ Teen Competition this summer. Courtesy photo.

“My ultimate goal is to place in the top 10 this summer at the Miss Texas’ Teen Competition, and I would of course be honored to win the title of Miss Texas’ Teen. For my future career, I plan to attend college to study vocal performance, and eventually earn my doctorate in Choral Conducting. I hope to be based somewhere on the West Coast and be a traveling choral conductor. With this position, I could reach countless young musicians from all over the country and have a lasting impact on all of them. I plan to continue writing children’s books, but I could definitely see myself releasing a novel at some point. I also plan to continue managing my nonprofit, Comforting and Caring Bears 501(c)(3).” 

Empowering Others

“By sharing my personal story of the difficult situations I have encountered, I believe I am seen as more relatable, especially to teenagers. This allows me to inspire and empower my audience. One quote I really like is ‘What would you do if you knew you could never fail?’ When someone asks me how I accomplished any of my goals, this is the secret I share with them. If you set your mind to something, the outcome you want is always within reach. When I talk to other teens about this, or share my love for music or writing books, my hope is to inspire them – and this is why I do what I do.”

Competing Locally

Note: Next year, the Miss Texas Organization has moved away from the “Beauty Pageant” model to a “Scholarship Program” that they started in 2022, thus the main reason why Ashlyn chose to compete again this year. Miss Texas gives away hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year, and Ashlyn has earned $1700 since she started competing in the pageants. The winners of the new 2025 titles will receive a full ride to college, and winners from essay entries and each individual competition will receive cash scholarships as well. It’s a wonderful incentive to compete! For more information, please visit https://www.misstexas.org.





Cover photo courtesy Ashlyn Cohen

Bob Valleau is a regular entertainment contributor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine.