Throughout Women’s History Month this March, KARK 4 News will highlight local women you nominated who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women. It’s not just about one day or one month — it’s about what they do day in and day out.
Remarkable Women is a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and quality of life.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – At the front of the classroom at Hot Springs World Class High School is where Wilda Hughley thrives.
“I love it,” Hughley said.
Hughley is originally from Haiti. Her first language is French, but now she’s teaching Spanish at the high school.
“When I first came to America, [I] did not know any English, so I feel the tension of the kids when they try to learn another language,” Hughley said.
While teaching is her primary job, she’s passionate about empowering teens and young women. Several years ago, her daughter was bullied so badly that she wanted to commit suicide.
“The bully on top of that said, ‘Go ahead and take your life. That way we’ll get more oxygen to breathe,'” Hughley explained.
After her daughter survived the incident, Hughley created a group called Miss Victorious to educate parents and students about the dangers of bullying and how to overcome it.
“Instead of becoming a victim, I turn it so I can be victor, so I created Miss Victorious,” she said.
Over the years, Hughley has hosted a number of Miss Victorious pageants to empower teens like, Serenity Cupples, who was the 2022 Junior Miss Victorious.
“I appreciated that the program wasn’t a beauty pageant,” Cupples said.
Pageant participants must write an essay about how they’ll be a voice against bullying and then they’re judged on that essay. Cupples said through the pageant experience, Mrs. Hughley taught her how to advocate for herself.
“She is a remarkable woman, absolutely. Everything that she does, how she is so selfless and the things that she does, how she advocates for kids, for young women, how she wants us to grow, absolutely wants the best for us, I’ve never questioned that,” Cupples said.
Hughley is a finalist for Nexstar’s Remarkable Women Campaign. While she appreciates the recognition, she said this is not about her.
“For me, it’s the girls,” Hughley said. “My girls are the remarkable young ladies.”