Tag Archive | Aurora

Divergent

CHOOSE.

Throughout life, we face choices.  Sometimes we battle the internal struggle of Cherry Nibs versus Peanut Butter Krispie at the vending machine.  Other times, the decisions are serious, with enormous implications.

At 14 years old, Shaniah Freeseman decided to essentially, start over.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“[When I was 5] I moved to Aurora, Colorado with my mom and lived there for about 10 years.  Towards the end of my 8th grade year, I decided I wanted to live with my dad in Gordon, Nebraska,” Shaniah told me recently.  “I moved to Gordon and was ready for one of the biggest changes of my life.”

Aurora is Colorado’s third largest city with an estimated population of 325,000.  Gordon’s estimated population is 1,500.. with less than 200 students at Gordon Rushville High.

“I dropped everything, the school I was going to, my friends, and the memories I had made the 10 years I lived in Colorado with my mom,” said Shaniah.  “But I did what I knew was going to make me happy, and even though it was hard, I got through it by keeping God close to my heart and my family by my side.”

And with these cuties behind her every step of the way, Shaniah hit the ground running in her new home… literally!

“Throughout my three years of high school I’ve been involved in multiple sports including volleyball, basketball and track,” said Shaniah.  “I’m also involved in multiple groups including Life of an Athlete, Medical Explorers Club, Turner Youth Foundation, FFA, my church youth group, National Honor Society and my school’s Spring play.  I wouldn’t change my busy schedule for anything because I know I’m taking advantage of the amazing opportunities high school offers.”

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Shaniah also looked ahead to the future, fueling her love for volleyball year after year.  This year as a junior,  when the scouts start looking and the college visits start taking place, Shaniah says she attended several college volleyball games, looking up to those six players on each court.

Then.. THIS happened.

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“Halfway through my junior year, I thought my volleyball career was over,” said Shaniah.  “I dislocated my patella in a basketball game, and it took me to my lowest point.  I had to take a deep look at who was in control.”

Once again, Shaniah made a choice, turning to her faith with trust and determination.  As she recovered, she channeled her feelings through her other passion, singing, and any activity that would allow her to perform more.

“Whether it’s on my church worship team, or in the car with my friends, singing is my go-to thing,” said Shaniah.  “I love the way God works through music to get to people, he has amazing ways of doing things.  I share my love for Christ by singing solos at church, talent shows, at the Sandhills Alive Music Festival, as well as singing with my family and friends.  God is such an important aspect of my life, and singing is just one more way for me to express my love for Him.”

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Shaniah also focused on her immediate future, preparing to compete for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in June as Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen.

“I’ve already benefited from this program and I’ve only been involved in it for three short years,” said Shaniah.  “Although I love being on stage, singing and competing with all the other contestants, my favorite part of competition is what happens backstage.  I love getting to know everyone and making true friendships with amazing girls that I never would have met if it wasn’t for pageants.  From the constant laughs and jokes, to all the stories we share with each other, so many great memories are made.”

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Shaniah credits the Miss Nebraska Organization for helping her discover herself, in the midst of her challenges.  Now, she hopes to take her own stories of challenge and choices across the state, sharing her personal platform, ‘Overcoming Adversity In Order To Be Your Best.’

“I’ve had to learn to be mature at a very young age.  I also grew up the peacemaker of things and I had to learn the hard way that nothing goes perfectly,” said Shaniah.  “Life is tough, but it’s tough for a reason.”

We all make choices.. on the easiest of days, and in the darkest of moments.  One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Where The Heart Is.. ‘Our lives can change with every breath we take.’

Shaniah Freeseman has made many decisions just in the last few years.  Now, she’s ready to inhale, stand tall, and let a panel of incredible judges decide what path she will turn down next.  Before they do, she has a message.. CHOOSE ME.

“I should be Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I would use my story of struggle and strife to show others what a true role model is,” said Shaniah.  “I’ve found out who I am.  [God] made me the way I am for a reason, and with the right people around me influence me, I’ve found out who I am.  I would show others it’s okay to be different, and it’s okay to make a change for the better.”

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CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Shaniah Freeseman

on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SHANIAH?

2015 * Nebraska’s Top Model

For more information about the Miss Alliance’s OT/Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s OT/Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Melinda Cullan by phone at 308-710-5593, or by email at maot.alliance@gmail.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Gering 2016 LaRissa McKean!

NEXT.. Miss Twin Rivers 2016 Jenni Wahonick!

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!

Dancing Queen

I have been a performer (coughcough a show off coughcough) since I could smile for photos.  In every old-school VHS home movie, I’m the loud one trying to get my Dad’s attention, singing, or making up a dance (and forcing my brothers to join in).  In junior high I LOVED choir and show choir.. a passion that continued into high school, along with theater and speech.  I did not, however, ever take dance.. and it shows.  I am NOT good.

That being said, for someone who knows nothing technically about it, I am MESMERIZED by dance.  Telling a story without words, transmitting emotions through movement, so many backgrounds and styles, all connected yet all so different.

For an Omaha woman, dancing isn’t just a hobby, it’s been part of her soul for as long as she can remember.

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MISS HEARTLAND 2015 STEFFANI JIROUX

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I started dancing since I was the ripe age of two and a half.  Basically, I went from getting comfortable with walking into learning how to point my toes in a short time,” Steffani told me recently.  “Ever since that first class, I fell in love with the art form of dance.  I realized that it stimulates my brain and body at the same time while capturing every emotion I could feel.  It is a beautiful way to express myself, and now it is a part of me.”

It’s a piece of her heart that Steffani shares every time she steps onto a stage.. which she does a lot.  She’s danced at the collegiate level, as backup for Weird Al, and as you see below, for classic ballet performances.

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Steffani competing at the Miss Nebraska Pageant in 2013 as Miss Lincoln & performing in a recent production

“Dance is my first love,” said Steffani, who in the last year alone has starred as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and the lead in Paquita.  “It is the thing I go to when I need a boost, and the stage is the place where I can say with the utmost truth, I feel alive.  I truly live for the moment I step out of the light, BOOM, and await my music.  It is those seconds where both nerves and enthrallment combine; it’s the moment you can hear a pin drop; it is the time I feel nothing but myself and God and where time seems to stop.  With that, I am confident in saying that being able to share my talent with others is my favorite thing to do.  It is sharing something that God has granted me, and in that I cannot ask for anything more.”

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Steffani danced throughout her undergrad years at Creighton University, cheering on the sidelines of all home basketball games at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center (including for now NBA basketball player Doug McDermott).  She’s still at Creighton, immediately pursuing her law degree after earning her BSBA in Management.  Steffani plans to become an entertainment attorney.

“I think versatility is an element of uniqueness and I strive to fulfill it,” said Steffani.  “Some can’t understand how the world of law intrigues me as a dancer and someone who likes to wear a lot of pink.  Now, my nickname is Legally Blonde (and fun fact, I had already owned a chihuahua, Shadow, since I was 2).  I am okay with that because it is a movie about embracing being yourself in a world that clings to conformity.  No matter what, purely being yourself will guide you to your ultimate goals.”

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That is a message Steffani is now bringing to young people as Miss Heartland, in addition to her personal platform ‘Arts For Academic Excellence; The Benefits of Fine Arts In The Education Of Our Youth’.

“I have been graced with the opportunity to partake in many forms of art, and I realize just how beneficial it has been throughout my life,” said Steffani.  “I have started a service project called Tutus N’ Dance Shoes, where I set up boxes in dance studios around Omaha in order to collect lightly used dance wear and shoes.  I organize them and bring them to dance programs where the children don’t necessarily have the means to buy a new pair of tap shoes because they grew out of their last one or just don’t have the means in general to afford the necessities dance requires.”

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Steffani says she didn’t just wake up one day and decide to compete for Miss Nebraska, nor did she realize, as she puts it, that her lifestyle and experiences were preparing her for this role and competition.  In a way, this adventure is simply another stage for Steffani to showcase her passions.

“The Miss America Organization provides brilliant young women with an opportunity to share their voices, touch others, and be the change they hope to see in the world,” said Steffani.  “As Miss Heartland, I know that I can truly be myself through every step of the way.  We are all ourselves, we are all so different and have so much to offer.  I can honestly say that I present myself and act with the utmost respect everyday; none of that changes when we affix the sparkle upon our head.  Competing to me means making a difference and making the days of all the new faces I see while on an appearance.”

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Now, this law student, volunteer and dancing queen wants to stay in the spotlight.. but on a MUCH bigger stage.

“Being Miss Nebraska would be absolutely fulfilling,” said Steffani.  “Because making everyone else’s day a bit brighter is my dream job.”

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(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

Follow Miss Heartland 2015 Steffani Jiroux and contact her for appearances and events

on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Chelsey Jungck at 308-382-1710 or by email at cjungck@statefair.org.

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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.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Scotts Bluff County 2015 Brittany Eckerberg

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County 2015 Alyssa Howell

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