Last night, I had one of those moments where I just stopped, breathed deeply, and thought ‘this is the life!’ My boys, my man and I were all at the pool.. I was listening to them splash and laugh together, while I laid in the glorious sun for a few blissful minutes.
Then I immediately felt GUILT… why was I just lying there?!? I should have been in the pool WITH them, right?!? I *hope my guilt was unfounded.. that after a long two months of blog-writing, documentary-producing, news-anchoring, event-emceeing, etc… it was OK for me to sit and relax.
However, there are those among us who never stop. They use every moment of every day to their full advantage.They rarely take a break for downtime… and in return, every day they are one step closer to the top of whatever peak they are climbing. They define ‘outstanding’ in their attitudes, goals, and the way they touch people along that journey.
Steffany Lien has spent the last year twirling to the top.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
“It has been a busy year, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way!’ said Steffany, who next week, will pass on her title as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. Anyone who was there to watch Steffany last year (click here to read more!) will tell you how outstanding this young woman truly is.
Steffany started her year as Miss Nebraska’s Oustanding Teen with media coverage across Nebraska. CLICK HERE to read her story in the Lincoln Journal Star!
Let’s start with her talent… which is WORLD CLASS.
“I compete with baton twirling,” said Steffany.
OK, STOP. Steffany doesn’t just COMPETE with baton twirling
Photo courtesy Blinq Studio
Steffany is a 6-TIME World Champion baton twirler. Her talent WOWED the crowd at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (more on that later..) and leaves audiences EVERYWHERE in awe. Steffany and her incredible gift have been featured by Omaha’s Metro Magazine, by television news outlets, by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, by the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, even as part of the Pegasus Parade at the Kentucky Derby. This spring, she was also selected by the University of Louisville to be the school’s featured twirler, a highly coveted position including a full-ride scholarship.Folks, that’s $25,000+ A YEAR.
Steffany has fine-tuned and perfected this incredible gift with years of training and performing, and showcasing her art has been a highlight of her year as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.
“I was invited to perform for the Big Red Tailgate to benefit the Completely Kids Program in Omaha,” said Steffany. “Not only was I proud to be the headliner at the event that raised $175,000 to combat childhood hunger and provide after school programs, but Tommie Frazier sang ‘Dear Old Nebraska U’ a capella while I twirled!”
“Performing at the Kentucky Derby and the Pegasus Parade was clearly a highlight of my year,” said Steffany. “When I signed autographs and took pictures with people at a festival the same weekend in Kentucky, the people there couldn’t have been nicer to Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen!”
As I’ve written about previously, the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program is the ‘little sister’ organziation to Miss Nebraska, all part of the Miss America Organization. One of the biggest differences between the Teen and Miss program.. these teens are also STUDENTS. While their Miss counterparts often defer their college entrance or postpone classes during their year of service, Teen titleholders take part in events and service all year IN ADDITION to their time in the classroom. Steffany is no exception; in fact, she’s set a new standard for what is possible, even expected, out of these exceptional young women.
“I dance and compete with Madonna ProActive Dance Team, I teach baton twirling at Madonna ProActive, I’m in National Honor Society, and I’ve maintained a weighted 4.28 GPA,” said Steffany, who just graduated this May from Lincoln Southwest High School. “Most importantly, I had decided early on to leave a legacy of active participation at charitable events, so this year I performed at, appeared for, and worked at an average of two events a week for the year. This means that I have participated in over 110 events as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. My white sash is now grey, my crown is spotted from raindrops and races, my tennis shoes have logged miles for health runs, and I need new heels! It has been a very busy schedule, but I have loved every moment because I will remember these experiences for the rest of my life.”
The montage above barely scratches the SURFACE of the photos posted on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page, showcasing Steffany’s service this year. She also returned to Peru on a mission trip with orphans, work she has dedicated countless hours to over the years. (Click here to read more!)
“When I became Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, I expected to be out and about in the community, attending charity events and promoting a variety of organizations,” said Steffany, who has volunteered for the Child Advocacy Center of Lincoln, Kids Against Hunger, March of Dimes of Omaha, Food Bank of Lincoln, People’s City Mission, the Autism Family Network, the Alzheimer’s Association, Pinwheels for Prevention, the LSW Parent’s Advisory Council… the list goes ON AND ON AND ON. “While this was my main focus throughout the year, the part I had not anticipated was how much these experiences would change me and how I view life.”
THIS is the caliber of young woman we want to represent our state, do we not? And Steffany did, oh so well, at the 2016 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida.
For the second year in a row, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen finished in the Top 10 in this national competition, in front of the 2016 Miss America Class and tens of thousands, if not more, online. Steffany had a clear impact on the audience and the organization, later featured by MAOT on their Facebook page, and drawing wide support from fans across social media.
“Miss America’s Outstanding Teen was amazing, and so different from any other experience I’ve ever had,” said Steffany. “I loved meeting other young women from across the US, and gaining friendships that will last a lifetime. I was surprised to hear my name in the Top 10, because every girl competing at MAOTeen was well-spoke, talented, and we had all been working hard leading up to the national pageant. For me, it was just an honor to be standing among them, but it was also satisfying to maek the Top 10 and be able to represent Nebraska at the competition.”
Steffany came home from Orlando with $3100 in scholarship money, adding to the $1500 she won at Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. She also caught the attention of designers Tony Bowls and Ashley Lauren, nationally renowed photographer Jenn Cady, as well as Lincoln boutique The Black Swan, leading to several modelling opportunities throughout her year.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
“The big events, the fashion shots with Ashley Lauren and Tony Bowls, and all of those wonderful purple bags from the Black Swan Dress Boutique bring me more pleasure than I’d like to admit,” said Steffany. “However, I had one recent experience that made me understand the real meaning of being an outstanding teen. Last week, a mom unpacked her daughter’s backpack at the end of the school year. In it, she found a paper her daughter had written in school after given an assignment to write about someone that is important to her. I was surprised this quiet, thoughtful child wrote about me. I had no idea the impact on her values and her perspective about my attitude and ‘kindness’. And although I giggled that she wrote I am the ‘world’s most amazing teen’, I am humbled and know that the title of Miss Nebraskas’ Outstanding Teen is one that I hold for life and that I better live up to this little girl’s expectations!”
One year ago, Steffany Lien looked up and focused on her goals and dreams. While many of us would get tired, and take a break, she kept climbing.. or in her case, twirling.
When Steffany represented Nebraska on the national stage this year, her program’s new directors, Kali Tripp and Heather Edwards, created her catch phrase: #TwirlingToTheTop.
Steffany Lien has EARNED blissful moments poolside or otherwise. She IS the top.. the essence of what it means to be outstanding, and a young woman our state will continue to be so very proud of.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
Even now, as the clock winds down on her time as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, Steffany continues to put others ahead of herself.
“More than anything, I am thrilled for the next girl who will earn the crown, and can’t wait to see all the great qualities she will bring to this organization and how she will represent Nebraska.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT STEFFANY?
For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Director Kali Tripp at email@example.com.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!