As a young professional, I counted down minutes until the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and did back then, too, but reporting is a stressful, non-stop business! Aaaah, the anticipation of sleeping in, lounging around doing nothing, taking naps, and then meeting up with friends at night. My mid 20’s weekends were just LAZY.. and it was great. The moment you have a child, that all changes. Your weekends are still great, but being lazy is NEVER an option. You are up when your kiddos are, you are lucky to get a bathroom break alone, and despite what feels like around-the-clock cleaning, your house often looks like a burglar ransacked the place and split.
I remember one moment in our newsroom after my first son was born and one of my in-his-20’s coworkers said “I just can’t WAIT for my weekend–I’m SOOOOO tired!” Truly, I think my head slowly rotated on my neck exorcist-style and I said, “dude. You don’t KNOW tired.” I don’t envy my former self–I would NEVER trade this time with my little boys–but I kinda want to shake that pre-2011-Brandi and say ‘get off the couch!! Look how much free time you have! Go for a run! Volunteer! You could have redecorated your entire house, woman!’
All of this makes me that much more impressed with young ladies like the Miss Nebraska contestant you’re about to meet.
MISS NORTHWEST 2015 LARISSA MCKEAN
(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)
“I am a full time student and I currently have three jobs,” LaRissa told me recently. “For a woman who loves to sleep, I don’t get much of it! I am up most mornings at 6:30 and go to bed around 2 every night.”
And LaRissa’s college major is a tough one; she’ll graduate in just weeks from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, specializing in Public Relations. She’s already put those studies to use, involved in the Finance Club and serving as the VP of Finance for the Theta Omega chapter of Delta Delta Delta, in addition to work on the Standards Committee, as Recruitment Chair, and as a Rock Chalk Revue Director.
LaRissa is also extremely active in dance, both for work and pleasure. She’s part of the pre-professional dance company Art in Motion (AIM), teaches at a dance studio in Lawrence, Kansas, and is a dance instructor for Universal Dance Association. All of this no doubt requires talent, dedication, and TIME, by my count, practice or instruction nearly every day of LaRissa’s week. She notes she usually travels once a month for dance competitions, including a trip to New York City to chaperone 17 high school seniors performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“I have been dancing since the age of three and started competing at four,” said LaRissa. “Performing on stage is second nature to me. The thrill of throwing every trick you wan to showcase in 90 seconds while smiling and being a source of entertainment is amazing! I love being able to share my passion with others and putting all my hard work into an adrenaline filled routine!”
LaRissa says the Miss Nebraska pageant was a natural step for her to take to combine everything she cared about: talent, communication and education.
Miss Northwest 2015 LaRissa McKean with Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Cherokee Purviance, and LaRissa with Miss Chadron Tosha Skinner and Miss Nebraska 2014 Megan Swanson
“I have known many contestants throughout the years and supported many at events, but I didn’t decide to compete until I saw what an impact pageants [could] have on my life,” said LaRissa. “Every woman I’ve known in the Miss America Organization system has been driven to succeed and a huge role model to me. Contestants have the opportunity to grow intellectually while being a leader in their community! I love being able to impact others and make a difference in my state like the role models did when I was a little girl.”
Being Miss Northwest has also given LaRissa another opportunity to promote a cause she’s already connected to, support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“St. Jude provides care and treatment for children at no cost to their families,” said LaRissa, who visited the hospital in March. “They also have top researchers [working to find] cures for cancer every day!”
St. Jude is also LaRissa’s chapter sorority’s philanthropy; she’s volunteered around the KU campus raising funds for St. Jude. Now, on a more personal level, LaRissa sends letters to friends and family asking for St. Jude donations, she encourages dance teams to write support letters to St. Jude families, and she speaks to groups about St. Jude’s mission.
“I was asked to emcee the Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen pageant and was able to share my platform with the audience,” said LaRissa. “It as a pleasure to share what I have been doing and how MAO has helped me pursue my passion in saving children who are suffering from cancer or diseases.”
Could LaRissa McKean be any busier?!? And she’s not getting a break anytime soon. Next on her list: Jayhawk graduation, moving back to Omaha (where this proud Millard South graduate was born and raised!), and making final preparations to compete for the title of Miss Nebraska.
Robert Frost once wrote: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” LaRissa McKean is dancing her way through this journey, and never, it seems, taking a break to rest.
“I am happy to say I do what I love and it never feels like a day of work,” said LaRissa. “All of these jobs and commitments makes sleep at the bottom of my to-do list.”
THAT is marathon mentality, and the finish line, the Miss Nebraska pageant, is in Miss Northwest’s sights.
Follow Miss Northwest 2015 LaRissa McKean
To contact LaRissa for appearances and events email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Marleta Hastings at 308-432-3847 or Director Renae Noble at 308-432-5129. You can also email email@example.com.
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.
To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.