On November 10, 2021 I had the opportunity to address the North Dakota House of Representatives and Senate at the Capitol during the Special Session. Below are the words I shared with North Dakota's congressmen and woman. A special thank you to Representatives Brandy Pyle and Michelle Strinden for the opportunity and for escorting me.
Good afternoon, congressmen and women --
I am humbled and honored to be standing in front of you today.
Having grown up and lived a majority of my life in Fargo, I am proud to claim North Dakota as my home. As mentioned in that introduction, I’m a fifth generation North Dakotan, and I take pride in my midwest roots and value system that stems from generations of independent yet community minded individuals.
That service oriented perspective is a trait that I believe is essential to being Miss North Dakota. Although it might appear glamorous, this job is not all about the sparkles — it’s a year of service which entails traveling around the state to serve alongside, speak, and listen to people.
At 26, I am the oldest Miss North Dakota to ever wear the crown and compete for the job of Miss America. Women between the ages of 18 and 26 are eligible to compete in any local competition, whether she be a ND resident or attending a ND school, and if she wins a title can move on to the state competition.
I competed in my first local competition in 2015 while a freshman at Concordia. I learned about the opportunity from a friend, fellow Fargo-native Jacky Arness, who was Miss North Dakota at the time. She informed me that the Miss America Organization is the nation’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women and that cash scholarships are awarded at both the local and state competitions.
Upon learning this, I figured I had nothing to lose, and signed up three days before the last local competition of the season. The day of the competition came and I was thrilled to win my first local title, which meant that I’d compete for the job of Miss North Dakota a few months later. Although I didn’t become Miss North Dakota that first year (of which I was glad), I got to sample something that I would grow to love even more in the years that followed. I was inspired by the service minded women I found myself competing with, while also gaining a community within both the Miss North Dakota and Miss America Organizations.
The Miss America Organization’s mission statement is, “Prepare great women for the world; prepare the world for great women.” The organization embodies a network of positive role models who are influencing their spheres–both geographically and digitally–in every single state. Regardless of whether they’re wearing a sparkly hat on their head, the women involved are working to make positive changes in their communities by using their voices to educate others on social impact initiatives of their own choosing. They are public servants, doers, and change-makers, and they use the resources of the organization to help them expand and reach their goals.
I’ve always wanted to be a role model, especially for young people. And consequently, I
continued to compete and be involved with the organization. I earned second runner up in my first and second year competing at Miss ND, and won first runner up in my third year in 2019. During those years, I felt the rush of coming so close to winning and this helped push and motivate me to work harder — and to remain patient and persistent. While I was set to compete in 2020, the pandemic postponed the event to 2021 which is what ultimately “grandfathered” me in, and allowed me to become one of the oldest candidates to ever compete in the history of the organization. Throughout the months leading up to the state competition, I didn’t give up on my dream, but continued to prepare to the best of my abilities. And, on June 12th, 2021, after my fourth and final try, my longtime dream became a reality and I was crowned Miss North Dakota.
As Miss North Dakota, I am thrilled to be sharing the message of my social impact initiative which is called, “The Influencer Era: Impact Beyond The Screen.” My goal is to emphasize the importance of communication skills and face-to-face connection, especially with students. In this digital era that we currently live in with online influencers dominating the social foreground, ‘Impacting Beyond the Screen’ is a message about intentionally showing up for others in person by being a real life, in person influencer. Face-to-face interactions are crucial because bonds are strengthened when reinforced by the physical. Things like looking another person in the eyes, giving a hug, or simply nodding and smiling while you listen emphasizes the fact that you are there for them. As Miss North Dakota, I believe that it’s important to remind people that
every one of us has what it takes to make a positive difference where we are right now, in digital spaces but even more importantly in our face to face interactions. The place where each of us finds ourselves is no accident, and the people in front of us hold purpose, meaning, and worth.
And it’s that impact and influence which ultimately makes a difference in this world.
I believe that by encouraging adolescents and adults alike to listen and share their story, they can find influence in their own unique way. I believe this will help foster more communicative people in our state, a legacy I would be proud to leave as Miss North Dakota.
I am humbled and honored to serve North Dakota this coming year, to share this message, and to represent my home at the 100th Anniversary Competition of Miss America next month — on December 16th — in Mystic, Connecticut.
I want to leave you with a few words, from one of my favorite role models - a designer,
storyteller, and mother of five - Joanna Gaines. She is a hardworking woman who embodies what it means to be an influencer not just online, but also with those that she meets in her daily life. She wrote these words in the most recent publication of her magazine, the Magnolia Journal:
“I’m sick of feeling stuck in the muck and mire of a social culture that is robbing us all of deep and true connection — of joy, peace, honest understanding, and empathy. Maybe you are too. And maybe now is the time to declare that we’re not willing to give that up. Not yet. Not when they are the very things that make life worth living and loving. We have somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that real connection is too hard to come by these days. But I’ve witnessed too many moments that prove otherwise. A shared moment of beauty, a glimpse of humor, of lightness, of heroic pursuits, of people living for one another — and I’m convinced all over again that there is more light than dark, more life than death, more hope than anger, more joy than sorrow, more gratitude among us than we sometimes remember. So let’s fight for a world that won’t so easily forget. A world that is slow to anger and rich in compassion. A world that would rather be loving than be right. A world that keeps moving forward. And I can think of
no better time than now.”
I am deeply grateful and humbled to be in this role and to serve my home, North Dakota, a place that has forever impacted and molded me. God has guided me to where I am today, and while it hasn't been the most direct path, or the one that I may have chosen for myself, it’s one I believe was meant to be. It’s been His plan all along and I am but a part in His grand plan. I find myself saying this phrase over and over again in my life, and I will say it again, “Thy will be done.”
I am SO EXCITED for this year! I am not here because of me. There is a larger plan in place, and I am just a small part of that plan and I am excited to see where that takes me. I am especially thankful to my community of North Dakota. It takes a village, and I am grateful that role has been filled by the caring, loyal, and hardworking people of North Dakota.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.