Behind The Crown

 It all comes down to this.. Miss America.

Last spring I profiled each of the young women competing for the title of Miss Nebraska.  From 19, there is now one.

Multiply those 19 state contestants (in many cases, double or triple that number) times the number of states in America, plus Washington DC and US territories.  From thousands of young ladies who competed in preliminary competitions this year, there are now only 53 vying to become Miss America.

She’ll be crowned Sunday night on ABC.

Miss America

As a little girl, I’d sit eagerly at my TV, waiting to see MY state–who was Miss Nebraska?  And who was our neighbor, Miss Iowa?

They are both incredible young women who are well-spoken, talented, beautiful and as you’re about to find out, HARD WORKING.

Getting ready for Miss America is NO easy task.

  Megan intro  Aly intro

Photos courtesy of the Miss America Organization

Tuesday night, Miss Nebraska Megan Swanson and Miss Iowa Aly Olson took their first steps onto the Miss America stage in Atlantic City, New Jersey as they began preliminary competition.  It was a moment they’ve been preparing for, intensely, for months.

“I’ve pushed myself harder physically than I ever have,” said Megan, moments before boarding her flight out of Omaha.  “I’m in the best physical shape of my life, and the best spiritual and emotional shape as well.”

Megan professional photo

Thanks to Ashley Frantz and Twisted Lens Photography for the photo!

I’ve been in touch with Megan since she was crowned Miss Douglas County last fall (full disclosure: I’m a volunteer with the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County pageant).  I talked to her the day after she was crowned Miss Nebraska.  I had the honor of hosting her send-off party and fundraiser.

megan and me

Every time I’ve spoken with Megan, her intent has been clear in both her words and actions; she is DETERMINED to win this thing.

“I’m just so thankful to represent the state of Nebraska, my home,” said Megan.  “To go there and win it as Miss America!”

I’ve only known Aly for a few weeks now, first meeting her in a Skype interview for our story, but  I don’t think she EVER STOPS SMILING–she just exudes positive energy!

“I’m just trying to BE Miss Iowa,” Aly told me.  “Representing the whole state, absorbing as many experiences as I can has been the best preparation.”

Miss Iowa

Thanks to the Miss Iowa organization for the photo!

Check out KETV’s story on Miss Nebraska & Miss Iowa ‘Behind the Scenes’!

For the last three months, these young women have been putting in 18 hour days to become the best version of themselves.  They’ve been in the gym nearly everyday.  They’ve spent countless hours rehearsing their talents (both are talented vocalists).  They’ve been up at the crack of dawn to travel across their states for appearances, interviews and fundraisers.

Aly and Megan 2

WHY?!? For a silly pageant?!?!

“Miss America isn’t just about promoting women to be their best,” said Aly.  “It’s really about encouraging every single person to find some lofty goal, whatever that may be, and to tell them to run for it.”

There’s also this ‘little’ matter of scholarships..

“The Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship organization in the world,” said Megan, a student at Belmont University in Tennessee.  “It provides 45-million dollars in scholarships each year.  That’s part of the reason I’m here.”

Aly, a student at the University of Iowa, will graduate with her bachelor’s degree debt-free thanks to the scholarships she’s taken in through her participation in the Miss Iowa program and it’s associated teen program, serving as Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen a few years ago.

“MAO has helped me become a better, stronger, more pulled together young woman,” said Aly.

Nebraska has only had one Miss America.  Iowa has NEVER had one.  Both Megan and Aly, hoping to make history this year, are already making names for themselves at Miss America.

Megan was named as one of nine finalists for the Quality of Life Award for community service (here, in blue.. yes, she’s very tall.. 6-foot without heels!)

quality of life

Photo courtesy of the Miss America Organization

Aly received high praise from the Twitterverse during preliminary talent competition this week and was arguably one of the favorites that evening.  (Click here to watch Aly’s performance to win Miss Iowa!)

Aly prelim talent

Photo courtesy of the Miss America Organization

Both know there are pageant ‘cliches’ in the world and many who disagree with young women even taking part in this system.  But both ALSO want you to know how hard they have worked to represent their states to make little girls and everyone else watching at home PROUD.

***

You can help Miss Nebraska Megan Swanson and Miss Iowa Aly Olson make the Top 15 at Miss America through the America’s Choice vote!  CLICK THIS LINK to watch videos from all of the contestants and to vote for your favorite.  Voting ends at MIDNIGHT EST TIME THURSDAY NIGHT.

***

Miss-Iowa---Aly-Olson

To learn more about Miss Iowa Aly Olson, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  You can also learn more about the Miss Iowa Pageant via their website.

2D4A0135-4

To learn more about Miss Nebraska Megan Swanson, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  You can also learn more about the Miss Nebraska Pageant via their website.

One thought on “Behind The Crown

  1. Pingback: We Are Nebraska | Anchor's Away

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