Tag Archive | brook hudson

Stethoscopes & Tiaras

This week, I celebrated my 36th birthday the best way possible… with Influenza A.  I’ve written about this before, this has NOT been my season of health.  In baseball terms, I’m trying to hit for the cycle of ailments, I suppose.

Sunday, I texted my friend Natalie for her over-the-phone diagnosis.. poor girl is my only physician BFF, and therefore, I bother her on the weekend when I can’t reach a doctor.  Thanks to her help and advice, I (hopefully) turned onto the road to recovery sooner than waiting a few extra days.


Photo courtesy CHI Health

My friend Natalie may look familiar.. because she’s Dr. Natalie Stuntz, a highly respected and admired pediatrician on all of the CHI Health commercials in eastern Nebraska. She’s also a former Miss Omaha contestant and 2-time 1st runner up to Miss Nebraska USA.  She’s a busy mother of two, wife, and yet she still she donates her time across Omaha and to communities around the world.  She’s beautiful, brilliant, and kind.

Maybe it’s a doctor thing.. the same dedication, intelligence and drive required to get through medical school and residency is also exemplified in other facets of life.  An Elkhorn teenager hoping to pursue medicine herself is already following in Dr. Stuntz’s footsteps in more ways than one.

Miss Elkhorn’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Emily Lenser

“I plan on attending UNL as a pre-med student, dancing on the Scarlet Dance Team and moving on to medical school,” Emily told me recently.  “My dream is to be a pediatric surgeon.”

Big goals for a young woman who can’t yet drive a car.  Emily credits her focus to her participation in pageants, including her preparation for this year’s Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Omaha.


“I love competing in pageants and have been doing so since first grade,” said Emily.  “Sometimes even my friends had a negative view of pageants.  I have really talked to them about pageants and all that is involved with pageantry.  I focused on telling them about interview skills which will help me in my future, speaking in front of an audience, confidence and grace on stage, and the wonderful opportunities to serve my community.”

Emily has been a titleholder within the National American Miss system and continues to mentor younger participants.  She’s a student at Elkhorn South High School, where she’s active with the Storm Dance Team.  Emily also finds time to do what she loves most, to joke around and to’shop, shop, shop!’

 “As a busy teen, it’s very important to stay organized with my schoolwork, activities, dance team and competitive dance,” said Emily.  “[Being organized] is the only way I can do so much!”

Those are the kinds of things Emily is excited to share with not only a panel of judges, but to any group who will listen as she advocates for pageant girls everywhere.


“My platform is ‘Don’t Judge The Sparkle: Changing Pageant Perception’,” said Emily.  “There are so many people who do not understand the world of pageantry.  I am making this my mission and want to change the negative stereotypes that some people have of pageants.  The general public does not understand all of the wonderful opportunities that take place through pageants.  College scholarships, interview skills, public speaking skills, poise, grace, resume skills just to name a few.”


I’ve done the name dropping, giving you proof of the incredible women who’ve been part of the Miss Nebraska Organization.  Brook Matthews-Hudson, co-founder and producer of Omaha Fashion Week.  Brittany Jeffers, Emmy Award winning broadcast news journalist.  Dr. Natalie Stuntz, role model for young women dreaming of being a doctor.. and Miss America.

“My goal/dream is to become as involved as I can in the state pageant,” said Emily.  “Of course I want to win and along the way I hope to make new friends, promote the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Organization, serve my community and continue to do well academically.  [There are] so many wonderful opportunities available to serve others.  It really makes a person feel good.  I hope to continue promoting serving others.”


The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place April 21-22 in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook. For more information about becoming a contestant, email Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com


PREVIOUS.. Miss Sarpy County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Phoenix Stanford

NEXT.. Miss Old West Balloon Fest 2017 Tristen Wecker

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

The “It” Factor

Ever meet a person who you just KNOW is going be something big?  They have that IT factor.. how they present themselves, what they give to others, how they make you feel.

I found out about the Miss Nebraska Pageant through a letter I got in the mail.  I went to one of the first Miss Omaha rehearsals just to see what it was all about, and Brook Matthews was one of the first people I saw.  She was so dang fantastic I just about turned around and walked out–I was NOT going to even try to compete against her!  Brook was A STUNNING blonde, perfect body, well spoken, she had the confidence of a CEO and just radiated grace and sophistication.  In a crazy turn of events, I become her pageant sister a few weeks later; Brook became Miss Omaha and I became Miss Douglas County.


Brook was later crowned Miss Nebraska 2004, then went on to  earn her Masters degree in Business from Creighton while founding and developing Omaha Fashion Week.  The event has become the 5th largest fashion event in the country, and last week, Brook Matthews-Hudson and her husband, Nick, opened the Omaha Design Center, welcoming sold-out crowds of thousands.


Photo courtesy Kathy Rae Photography

Brook is a REALLY. BIG. DEAL.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the new home for Omaha Fashion Week, from KETV’s Chinh Doan!

A few years ago, I met a young woman who stood out to me in a group of OUTSTANDING young women.  I invited all of the 2014 Miss Nebraska contestants to the KETV studios to record a special edition of Chronicle to spread awareness about the program and the incredible things these titleholders were doing in their communities.   (Click here to watch the 2014 Miss Nebraska Chronicle special!)  Tosha Skinner made the long drive to Omaha to take part when several of the other western titleholders understandably did not; she was articulate, confident, and I went back to my desk that evening thinking, ‘Dang!! Who is that girl?!?’


Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

Tosha Skinner is a 3-time local titleholder with the Miss Nebraska Organization and the current Miss Heartland.  She’s a UNL graduate and proud Delta Delta Delta alumnae.  She’s a Logistics expert, a volunteer, a Christian, and a woman proudly comfortable in her own skin.

“The most important part of my life is that I live out my platform every day,” Tosha told me recently.  “Because my platform focuses on self-love and living a healthy lifestyle, I think that it is essential I live my life with the values I teach.”

Tosha calls that personal mission ‘Perfectly, Imperfect: Learning to love the true you.’


“After years of struggling with low self-confidence, which turned into an eating disorder and depression, I decided to start making changes to my life, which started with the way I viewed myself,” said Tosha.  “I became healthier in the way I thought, spoke, ate and lived.  I watched how each of these things helped me learn to love myself.  I soon realized that if I shared my own story, I could help others come to the same realization I did.  I want to live in a world where my little sister doesn’t have to struggle through the same things I did!”

Tosha has embarked on something of a social media crusade to pump positivity into the world, and to remind women everywhere of their beauty.  She posts inspirational memes, shares terrific photos to make you smile and think, and frequently updates her blog with op-ed like posts focused on image and self-improvement (CLICK HERE to read more!)


Tosha on Facebook: ‘Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you helped create that smile #missheartland

Tosha says being a Miss America titleholder has not only given her an opportunity to share this message, but it’s part of the reason she found that message in the first place.

“I learned about eating right, working out, and how to better understand my own body, and I learned all of that because of preparing for Swimsuit (competition)!” said Tosha.  “The Miss Nebraska system has been an active part of my life.  I learned life skills like public speaking, stage presence, professionalism and living a healthy lifestyle.  It helped me find my passion for volunteering and taught me to step out of my comfort zone every day.  I am a better person because of the Miss Nebraska system.”

 And despite having a full-time job at Talent Plus in Lincoln, Tosha is an active proponent for that same organization, taking part in philanthropic events across the state on a weekly basis, if not more often.

Tosha’s raised awareness for Alzheimers, for Team Jack and pediatric cancer research (CLICK HERE to learn more!), for Junior Achievement, for Children’s Miracle Network, and for the American Heart Association. She says her dream is to turn her platform into a non-profit to reach even more people.  This is the work of a determined, selfless young woman.. a far cry from the self-described shy, unsure little girl she once was.

“Because of the Miss America Organization, that little girl grew into a woman that learned how to pick herself up every time she fell and how she learned how important hard work was,” said Tosha.  “Without the Miss Nebraska system, that little girl may never have finished college or landed her dream job.  But because she was involved in an organization that taught her how to be the best version of herself, that little girl can be anything.”


Tosha Skinner is a Husker, a working woman, a friend, a mentor.  She’s a volunteer at People’s City Mission and a superhero at the Lincoln Children’s Museum.  She’s Miss Sugar Valley 2014, Miss Chadron 2015, Miss Heartland 2016.. and she’s ready to be Miss Nebraska.

“Being Miss Nebraska is more than just a pretty crown and sash,” said Tosha.  “It is about being a role model to both children and adults, presenting the best version of yourself every day, and most importantly, being the best possible representative for Nebraska.  It’s waking up every day with a smile, being prepared for anything the day may bring.  And it’s about utilizing the moments that you can touch someone’s life, with a smile or conversation.  This is the year I am prepared for.”


Photo courtesy Christiansen Photography


CLICK HERE to follow Miss Heartland 2016 Tosha Skinner on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and via her blog: Perfectly, Imperfect.


CLICK HERE * 2015 * Cap And (Evening) Gown

CLICK HERE * 2014 * A Spoonful Of Sugar

For more information about the Miss Heartland/Miss Nebraska State Fair Pageant, visit their WEBSITE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Chelsey Jungck at 308-382-1710 or by email at cjungck@statefair.org, or contact Director Shelly Penner at 308-520-0416 or by email at sa_penner@hotmail.com.


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.


PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron 2016 Tyler Rambali!

NEXT.. Miss Fur Trade Days’ Outstanding Teen 2016 Brooklyn Stack!

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!

Countdown To The Crown


In less than three months, life will change for two young women in our state, and possibly, the thousands of others they impact.

It’s time to COUNTDOWN TO THE CROWN.. who will be the next Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m sure there are many readers shaking their heads that I’m writing about pageants.  Many who believe Miss America and pageants in general are archaic, sexist and irrelevant in today’s world.


The girl in this photo? That’s me.  Well, a 21-year old, much thinner version of me.  When this picture was taken, I was Miss Omaha 2002, singing the national anthem for the Omaha Royals at Rosenblatt Stadium.

I found out about Miss Omaha and Miss Nebraska through a letter in the mail.  I had been active in choir and theater in high school, and was eager for the opportunity to sing on a stage again.  I got it.. and more than I ever could have imagined.

I learned how to become a better public speaker: to groups of students at elementary schools, to roomfuls of families at Metro Autism Support Group meetings, to reporters and other local personalities, to hundreds of people filling auditoriums.  I realized the value and importance of public service, focusing on Autism Awareness as my personal platform of service, and the impact you can have simply by caring and advocating for something you believe in.  I found new and exciting chances to sing and perform, opportunities I probably wouldn’t have ever had without that crown on my head.

My story is just one of COUNTLESS ‘Beauty Queen Tales’ right here in the Omaha metro area.  KETV’s Alex Hoffman, Omaha Fashion Week Producer Brook Hudson, Nebraska native broadcaster Brittany Jeffers; ALL competed in the Miss America Organization.  (For more, check out my 2014 post ‘There She Is’.)

What’s more, I think people want to be inspired.  We want to see the GOOD shining through in our world.  The young women competing for Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen exemplify that, and when I began profiling them leading up to last year’s Miss Nebraska pageant, thousands of people around the country logged on to read their stories.  These women MATTER.  (To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click here or click the ‘There She Is’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll again profile each of this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants; who they are, what’s important to them, and why YOU should care about what they are doing in our state.  As a new addition this year, I’ll also be profiling EACH Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant; 11 teenagers from across the state who will also compete to represent Nebraska.  Who knows, you may also see a few other surprises along the way.


These are the four points of the Miss America crown.  They are a guide, for 24 of Nebraska’s best, trying to become the best versions of themselves and preparing to come together in just three short months for one, exciting week of accomplishments, intelligence, talent, and beauty (inside and out.)


Are you ready?


The Miss Nebraska & Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageants take place June 3-6 in North Platte.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.


CLICK HERE for Miss Kool-Aid Days Brooke Ludemann

CLICK HERE for Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Steffany Lien

There She Is..

Saturday night, I was anxiously checking my Twitter feed every few minutes for updates.  Not for a game, not for breaking news.. just for two names.

I wanted to see who won the titles of Miss Metro and Miss Eastern Nebraska; to see which two young ladies would round out the field of 19 to compete at the Miss Nebraska pageant in June.

Did I lose you? Are you shaking your head saying, ‘c’mon Brandi.. really? Pageants?!?’

Yes, Miss Nebraska.  I LOVE IT.  And here are three gorgeous reasons you should, too.


Brittany Jeffers, Miss Nebraska 2009, now Anchor/Reporter at Fox23 in Tulsa, OK


Brook Matthews-Hudson, Miss Nebraska 2004, now Producer of Omaha Fashion Week


Our own Alex Hoffman, Miss South Dakota 2008, now KETV First News Anchor

These are only three examples of the fantastic young women who have participated in the Miss America program.  Women who are beautiful inside and out.  Women who have amazing talents.  Women who give of themselves to help others around them.  Women who are articulate, intelligent and confident.

Why is it so bad to recognize these things?!? Aren’t these the attributes we all wish we could have? Aren’t these the qualities we hope our children pick up on and someday emulate themselves?

We applaud athletes, recognize actors, respect leaders.  The women who participate in this system represent so many of those things.  Think The Apprentice meets The Voice meets The Biggest Loser, all on the red carpet.  What’s more, the program gives BACK to them, recognizing those accomplishments with scholarships for colleges and careers.

Of course, there are the ‘girly-girl’ parts of the pageant that I love.. who doesn’t love getting dressed up and feeling BEAUTIFUL??  Yes, there’s also the always controversial swimsuit competition–but as a former contestant myself, I have never been in better shape in my life than when I had motivation through Miss Nebraska to eat healthy and get myself to the gym.

I invite you to check out my blog over the next few months as I introduce you to this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants.  You’ll meet Miss Omaha Payton Merritt, the recent high school graduate who sings with the soul of 10 lifetimes. (She gives me chills!!!)  You’ll meet Miss Crane Festival Lianna Prill, one of the distinguished recipients of a DJ’s Hero Award last year for her work with Celiac Disease.  You’ll meet Miss High Plains Megan Dimmitt, who has raised more than any other young woman in Miss Nebraska history, $8,400, all for the Children’s Miracle Network.

These young women are incredible.  They are the ‘cream of the crop’ in their college classes, often excel in their talent of choice, and have donated hundreds of hours to dozens of charities.  They inspire me to smile a little more and try a little harder.  They truly have glitter in their blood 🙂

There is so much bad in the world.   certainly see that day in and day out working in news.  These women represent so much good, so much beauty.  If that beauty is showcased in a pageant, so be it.

I hope you follow their journeys with me!

GOOD LUCK, LADIES! And remember..

all you need

Thanks to Miss Nebraska Director Amy Engel for sharing


CLICK HERE to learn more about the Miss Nebraska contestants, starting with Miss High Plains, Megan Dimmitt!