Stronger

I can try to explain what it’s like to compete in a pageant, but unless you’ve been there, up on that stage, it’s really hard to perfectly describe it.  I imagine it’s comparable to a pitcher stepping onto the mound for a baseball game, or a salesperson taking a deep breath before making that huge pitch for a campaign.  You work hard, you focus for weeks or months, and in the end, all of that effort comes down to one moment.  You get the win, or you do not.

My first featured contestant of 2015 knows how the pageant process works; she’s watched it, and lived it, her whole life.

head shot

MISS KOOL-AID DAYS 2015 BROOKE LUDEMANN 

(photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“It’s unreal that I’m actually preparing to be on the stage that I’ve watched every year from the audience,” Brooke told me recently.  “I was a Little Sister, served with the Little Sister Alumni, represented Nebraska as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in 2011, and now, here I am.  It’s truly surreal to think that I have become the woman that I so admired as a child in the old high school auditorium or in the line for autographs at NebraskaLand Days.”

Brooke earned MY admiration several years ago.  I had only met the then 19-year old once, when on January 27, 2013, she was crowned Miss Star City.

Miss Star City 2013

Just four days later, January 31, 2013, Brooke posted the following on her Facebook page:

“Just wanting to say a quick but huge thank you to all those wishing congratulations and support. Because of a few calculating mishaps, I am no longer headed to Miss Nebraska. However, I am very proud to say I placed as the 1st Runner Up in my first Miss pageant ever. I respect the MAO organization for rectifying this situation and am proud of the girls going to Miss NE. God has other plans for me this year, because He REALLY wanted me to take this year off, but I pray His plans place me at Miss Nebraska next year! Again, thank you all so much, your support and love means the world to me.”

My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach when I read this post.  I’ve been a titleholder; I’ve felt the elation when your name is called, the excitement of planning to compete in Miss Nebraska.  Brooke had all of that.. and then she didn’t.  What’s worse, this was the last local pageant of 2013 to qualify for Miss Nebraska; Brooke would have to wait at least a year for another chance.

I simply can’t imagine how difficult it was for this young woman, who had experienced such a high as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, to lose the opportunity she so badly wanted.  Brooke confronted disappointment, posted a public message displaying grace, maturity and class… and moved on.

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Brooke returned to Doane College, completely committing to her studies in Business Marketing and her involvement in campus activities.  Brooke is the Service Chair with her sorority, Omega Psi Theta, involved on the Student Programming Board, a member of the Hansen Leadership Advisory Board, and she’s an ambassador for the college to new students.

“I LOVE service work.  Everyone has their ‘thing’ and mine is volunteering,” said Brooke.  “In high school, I volunteered over 600 hours in various projects, and I am right on track to match that for my 3-year college career.  I’ve made it a goal to bring my love of service to others in ways that they enjoy.  Service isn’t a chore, and I want everyone to embrace the love they can spread by lending a hand.”

Brooke’s love of Miss Nebraska didn’t go away.  Just five days before her 21st birthday, Brooke competed for and won the title of Miss Kool-Aid Days 2015, and punched her ticket to THIS year’s Miss Nebraska pageant.

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In a way, the work began all over again.  Since this photo was taken in early August, Brooke has spoken to approximately 1,500 students across the state of Nebraska, focusing on her platform of service: ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds: Education Through Service Learning.’

“I believe that everyone has a passion to change something about the world, but we never know what it is until we have that service learning moment,” said Brooke, describing ‘service learning’ as reflecting and actively learning about the world through service.  Brooke’s own moment came in high school, delivering coats to a family in desperate need of help.  “It was then I realized I wanted to help those who needed a leg up in life.  My goal is to bring others to find their passion.”

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“For younger students, I share ways that they can help others, helping them understand that ‘little people live out BIG love,” said Brooke.  “For older students, we tackle real service projects.  I was able to work with the Millard Central Middle School Student Council Leadership team to make 18 Project Linus blankets that were donated to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.  Many students knew friends who had been in the hospital, so they were able to make direct connections to the impact they were making in a stranger’s life.”

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A quick glimpse at Brooke’s schedule via an edition of her monthly Miss Kool-Aid Days newsletter

But we can all volunteer without a crown, right?  Why compete in pageants? Why Miss America?

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“In a world that is so mindful of women’s rights, Miss America is a shining example of breaking the glass ceiling,” said Brooke.  “As a partner with STEM, we empower more women to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  We’re showing beautiful women on TV who will be doctors or engineers.  The Miss America program highlights some of the nation’s brightest, most well-informed, and well-rounded women, who are pretty to boot.  Former contestants are doing everything from sitting in the Senate of their states to performing on Broadway to being national news anchors.  Miss America is a driving force for women’s equality: empowering women to be exactly what they want to be and enabling them to pursue their dreams through scholarship and life skills.”

There’s also the talent competition, Brooke’s favorite part.

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“Miss America is unique in the fact that a large portion of our scoring is based on talent,” said Brooke.  “I’ve been singing for as along as I can remember and actually entered college as a vocal performance major.  I love the opportunity to put on a new persona, step on stage, and lay my heart out for the audience.”

Brooke Ludemann has already put her heart into this journey.. and it might have broken her heart once.

They say, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’

This girl is TOUGH.  My guess is she’s got Kelly Clarkson on repeat, getting stronger everyday as she works hard and focuses again on this one moment to come in June: Miss Nebraska.

“{I’m competing} to represent and serve the state of Nebraska.  That is really what the job is all about, service to the people who have created the ‘Good Life’,” said Brooke.  “As Miss Nebraska, I hope to spread my platform to every county, eventually turn my platform into a non-profit after school program, and give back to the people who have helped me become the women I am today.”

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Follow Miss Kool-Aid Days 2015 Brooke Ludemann

on her Facebok page, on Twitter, on Instagramvia Brooke’s monthly newsletter,

and on the Miss Kool-Aid Days Pageant Facebook page.  To contact Brooke for appearances and events, please contact Angie at angie.trausch@gmail.com.

For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Directors Angie Trausch and Angela Keiser at 402-984-2690 or click here to visit the Miss Kool-Aid Days Pageant website.

***

The Miss Nebraska Pageant will take place June 3-6, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website, to visit the pageant on Facebook, to follow the pageant on Twitter, and to follow the pageant on Instagram.

***

PREVIOUS.. Countdown To The Crown

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien

To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

8 thoughts on “Stronger

  1. Brooke is my granddaughter I have been proud of her from the day she was born and she just continues to grow into a greater person every day as we become prouder of her than we thought possible she feels God has a plan for her and so do we.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a wonderful message about our Granddaughter, Brooke. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and we are so proud of her and her accomplishments. Thank you for your kind words.

    Liked by 1 person

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