Remarkable Women finalist: Meet Sylvia Pollard Driggins

Remarkable Women
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- This week, News 4 begins a month-long celebration of remarkable women.

You may recall seeing this nation-wide contest promoted on KFOR recently.

Turns out, there are hundreds of remarkable women in Oklahoma!

We were hard-pressed to narrow down the list from all of the nominations that came pouring in from around the state.

Throughout February we will be highlighting remarkable women, including four finalists who are in the running for the top prize: an all expenses paid trip to the Mel Robbins Show in New York City.

Sylvia Pollard Driggins lost her mother when she was just two years old.

It is a wound that has never truly healed.

If song was a salve, Sylvia has been using her voice for healing since the very beginning.

Singing is her gift; it is way of navigating the world.

"Music was just born in me," said Sylvia.

That talent paved the way for Sylvia's first pageant.

Back then, she was a twiggy 16-year-old girl.

Oklahoma City civil rights icon, Clara Luper, hosted a contest for young women.

"I really didn't think I was going to win because, at that time, when your mother's not there with you, you think, 'Ok. well. I did it. Let me just go on home,'" Sylvia remembered.

Humility is also a gift of Sylvia's.

Her voice, the call of an angel, earned her the crown that day.

The experience opened a door for Sylvia to a lifetime of singing, modeling, walking the runway and showing other young women how to put their very best foot forward.

"I just really had fun with it," said Sylvia. "It wasn't like a competition to me. It was just showing your gifts and talents."

Sylvia would go on to become the first Miss Black Oklahoma, an entrepreneur, talent coach, choreographer, performing artist and mentor to thousands of children.

"It's not about the crown. It's not about the gown. It's about the in-between," Sylvia said. "It's there, and if I'm working with you I'm going to find it."

Sylvia was the first woman of color to be chosen to sing Handel's Messiah accompanied by a full orchestra and the first Centennial Humanitarian Queen for the State of Oklahoma chosen by the Oklahoma Legislature.

She was the first woman of color to receive the Congressional Mentor's Award by Senator James Inhofe for her many community contributions.

Governor Henry Bellmon awarded Sylvia's company, State of Excellence, first in the state for humanitarian productions.

Sylvia has composed and arranged musical productions all over the world.

She began working as a music teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools and spent years volunteering in churches, helping little ones discover their own gifts.

"I always say if I can touch one child I can change a whole generation of children because I'm passing on what God has given unto me," said Sylvia. "I can't keep it, that is for sure."

Sylvia Pollard has also organized dozens of beauty pageants over the years, including the one where Heather Wimmer was crowned Queen of Special Needs in 2004.

"She does so much for kids with special needs, but also for kids of all abilities," said Heather's mom, Belinda Robison.

Crystal tiaras shine as radiant as their queen.

Sylvia is honored by the headlines and the titles, although her proudest achievement is the daughter she raised on her own, Simone Driggins.

Simone, who nominated her mother for the Remarkable Women award, has an impactful career as a school nurse.

Simone has worked for Oklahoma City Public Schools eleven years.

"My mother is so loving, so inspiring. She puts herself last," said Driggins. "She surprises me every day in a remarkable way."

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