September 23, 2023

On the intersection of neighborhood engagement, pageantry, and social impression, there’s Dr. Ingrid Bynum.

There’s loads of hype surrounding the brand new Barbie film, which highlights that ladies can do something. Wish to go into orbit? There’s astronaut Barbie. Want to specialize within the medical subject? Physician Barbie for the win. Does staying residence attraction to you? Hey, Barbie’s Malibu Home

Even with all of her belongings and ambitions, Barbie exists solely on the earth of make-believe. Or does she? In Alexandria, there’s a real-life pageant winner equally devoted to creating a optimistic impression on the lives of younger folks—and her identify is Dr. Ingrid Bynum. 

Through the college yr, you’ll discover Bynum within the principal’s workplace. She’s the top administrator at Patrick Henry Okay-8 College, a part of the Alexandria Metropolis Public Faculties (ACPS) division. Don’t count on to solely discover her behind her desk, although—through the years, Bynum’s taken an lively position in selling literacy in each her college and in her neighborhood. 

“I see that after the pandemic, our kids simply aren’t okay proper now,” Bynum stated. “With regards to the achievement hole, it’s fairly giant.”

Striving to make a optimistic impression, Bynum labored with Studying Is Basic of Northern Virginia. The nonprofit, all-volunteer group offers free books to underserved kids in NoVA. 

Serving in her neighborhood sparked a broader thought: Bynum needed to advertise literacy statewide. That’s when she regarded into pageantry. 

Courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Bynum, Alexandria Metropolis Public Faculties

Changing into Mrs. Virginia America

It’d been about 30 years since Bynum entered a pageant. Prior, she participated in her first-and-only at age 23. 

In June, the 54-year-old profession lady discovered herself again on the stage, competing towards different proficient women from throughout the commonwealth. All of them vied for a similar factor: One coveted spot on the nationwide Mrs. America pageant. 

“Mrs. America stands for girls who can just about do all of it. We’re moms, we’re wives, we’re profession girls, however we additionally contribute to the neighborhood, too, in a pretty big manner,” Bynum stated. “I believed, ‘This is likely to be the most important platform that I can have right now’.”

Because the pageant obtained underway, Bynum met opponents whom she referred to as “actually proficient,” “phenomenal,” and “lovely in and out.” Whereas clearly enthusiastic about her platform, Bynum stated she “was actually anticipating another person to win.”

Then the announcer referred to as her identify. 

“I actually fell to the ground as a result of I used to be in such shock. Then I began to cry as a result of a whole lot of exhausting work went into this—months and months and months of exhausting work,” Bynum stated. “And so it simply form of all got here to, ‘Okay, all of the exhausting work I did, this was price it.’”

Together with her new title, Bynum plans to:

  • Work with sponsors and associate with companies to buy books for youngsters 
  • Work with communities throughout Virginia to carry ebook donations and distribute the books to underserved kids
  • Meet with households to speak about literacy and the significance of studying from early childhood to center college 

“Along with that, I need to get out and speak to women about having the ability to simply be ‘tremendous girls,’ and be capable of attain their objectives, be capable of be the very best that they are often, and likewise learn how to make an ideal impression on the neighborhood,” Bynum stated.

Courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Bynum, Alexandria Metropolis Public Faculties

Bringing the Title Residence

College begins at ACPS on Aug. 21, and Bynum’s already considering of the way to share the information of her win along with her college students. 

“I haven’t determined but whether or not or not I’m going to put on the sash and the crown to high school as a result of I actually need the work that I do with college to be all about them and never about me—however I could put on it someday,” Bynum stated. “We do dress-up days on Fridays. So we might have a ‘King and Queen Day,’ or one thing like that, and everybody attire up—after which I can put on it to high school. However I can think about that they’re going to be tremendous excited.”

The principal just lately did a trial-run-of-sorts on the recreation middle, the place a number of college students loved summer time actions. 

“[The students] noticed me, they usually simply began screaming. So I’m actually enthusiastic about getting again to them,” Bynum stated. “I’ve a very good relationship with them, the place I’m all the time wanting and looking for to encourage them to be the very best that they are often and to work exhausting. Particularly to work exhausting at teachers and work exhausting at being variety. I believe that the sash and the title and the crown will simply be capable of amplify my voice just a little bit bigger, and actually carry residence that message that I’m attempting to ship to them, that they must be superior.”

Courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Bynum, Alexandria Metropolis Public Faculties

Competing in Mrs. America

Later this month, Bynum will journey to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete within the nationwide Mrs. America pageant. The streamed occasion will happen on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Within the meantime, voting is now open on the Mrs. America web site, the place one fortunate winner will advance straight to the competitors’s Prime 15. 

If Bynum wins the nationwide competitors, she hopes to increase her ardour for literacy throughout the nation by working with policymakers. Her objective is to assist extra kids entry books for pleasure studying, and have these books of their fingers as a substitute of on a display. 

“Folks are likely to see the pageant winners and the queens as magnificence queens, and we’re extra than simply that. We work very exhausting. We’re identical to everybody else. We’re moms, we’re wives, we’re profession girls,” Bynum stated. “However we actually are out—particularly within the Mrs. America competitors—we’re out actually trying to search and make lasting and sustainable change throughout the neighborhood. That’s what the Mrs. America pageant’s all about, and I’m delighted to have the ability to characterize the Commonwealth of Virginia in doing simply that.”