Tag Archive | kali tripp

From ‘Sea’ To Shining ‘Sea’

Today is the day! Tonight, a new Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen will be crowned in Omaha!

For the last several months, a small network of volunteers has been working tirelessly to provide this wonderful opportunity for the best young women our state has to offer. Through those efforts, a record-breaking 19 teens are competing tonight, representing all corners of our state. Many of you have read about each of them in this series (THANK YOU!), and the following three teens round out this incredible class.

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Miss Eastern Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Sofia Drelicharz, a student at Westside Middle School in Omaha. She’s a natural performer; she was just in her school’s amazing production of Mary Poppins all last weekend. Her mission as a local titleholder is to spread awareness of food insecurity, especially in children.

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Photo courtesy Tiffany Williams Photography

Miss Heartland’s Outstanding Teen Aubrie Charter’s motto is¬†Dance+Baton+Point+Golf+Pageant=Happinessūüíó. She’s a busy young lady!! Aubrie is a 7th grader in North Platte, and a lifetime fan of the Miss Nebraska Pageant that takes place annually in her hometown.

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Photo courtesy Photographic Images

¬†Miss North Platte’s Outstanding Teen Aspen Golter is another North Platte native, an 8th grader trying Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen for the first time. She is also a dancer at The Dance Factory, owned by former Miss Nebraska Becky Smith, and a former participant in the America’s National Teenager Scholarship Organization.

Tonight in Omaha, these three will compete with other teenagers spanning our state; from the winding Missouri River that borders Omaha, to the sleeping giant Platte River in North Platte, to the… ok, there’s no river border in western Nebraska, but you get my point!!

Tonight, these girls will take the spotlight, but in the shadows of the crowd, they will be cheered on by all of the volunteers who helped them find this path to Omaha. Roxanne Ludemann, Kelsey Ellis, and so many more; they are the local directors across our state who worked countless hours to provide resources and assistance to these titleholders. They don’t get paid to do this – they do it because they love to empower young women, and they love what this program stands for.

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With that, a sincere GOOD LUCK and THANK YOU to the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen organization, especially to directors Kali Tripp and Heather Edwards. Never before has this program had 19 contestants, a powerhouse panel of judges, record-breaking scholarship and award opportunities, and more. These powerful women are revolutionizing this program, and in doing so, empowering the teenagers who take part, creating an army of well-spoken, polished, service-minded citizens of Nebraska.

From ‘sea’ to shining ‘sea’… the best of the best. That is what will be represented on stage tonight.

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Photo courtesy KC Creations Photography

Only one will become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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For more information about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program or to become a contestant,¬†CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook,¬†or CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Twitter. You can also contact Director Heather Edwards at¬†heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at¬†KaliNicoleTV@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Competition takes place April 28 in North Omaha, Nebraska.

PREVIOUS..¬†Miss Millard’s Outstanding Teen Marissa Messick

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Carsyn Long

Homegrown

When I competed for Miss Nebraska my first time, I remember making the long trek to North Platte and thinking ‘why North Platte? Why isn’t this pageant thing just in Omaha?’ ¬†I got my answer during those first trips west for Orientation and state competition in 2001.

This¬†town LOVES Miss Nebraska and treats every, single titleholder like a queen. ¬†North Platte has hosted the annual Miss Nebraska pageant for 33 years. ¬†Local families ‘adopt’ titleholders during the week of state competition. ¬†Businesses offer cash donations for scholarships and services for the winners. ¬†The Little Sisters program, partnering little girls with the young women they idolize, has a waiting list every year. ¬†And for many of those girls growing up in North Platte, the Miss Nebraska Pageant is an annual can’t-miss event.

One of those ‘little girls’ is now a teenager and competing on her own.

Miss Twin Rivers Outstanding Teen 2017 Katy Greene

“I want to be the same role model for kids that I looked up to when I was little,” Katy told me recently. ¬†“Those big girls meant everything to me and I always knew I wanted to be just like them!”

In February, Katy earned that chance.

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She was crowned Miss Twin Rivers Outstanding Teen in her hometown of North Platte.

“Any opportunity I receive I take it and give it my all!” said Katy. ¬†“I always want to put my best into everything that I do.”

One glance at her social media, and it’s clear this teenager does exactly that.

She’s already busy, an Academic letter winner and cheerleader at North Platte High School. ¬†But Katy immediately committed to her community, knowing the extra significance of being a titleholder in¬†Miss Nebraska’s home base. ¬†She’s taken part in charity events,¬†visited schools, and¬†helped with fundraisers to help people and families throughout the area.

“I absolutely love being out in the community and spending time with others,” said Katy. ¬†“The kids in particular are my favorite! They always have adorable things to say and nothing is better than seeing the joy on their faces, as well as the impact that a strong role model has on them. ¬†I always take the time to talk to each child, adult or anyone else who I meet at appearances. ¬†I feel that personally talking to people is what creates such good relationships.”

Katy also uses those moments to spread the word about her personal platform: ‘Unplug and Enjoy the Arts’.

“This generation of children spend a lot of time on technology and I feel that too much of this is going to, over time, take away from both their creative thinking and social skills,” said Katy. ¬†“By minimizing their time on technology and substituting it for other activities, such as the arts, we can find that happy medium between the two.”

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“There isn’t a day that I don’t have some kind of activity,” said Katy. ¬†“The pageant word is full of amazing opportunities and experiences. ¬†It allows young women to become involved in their communities, build strong relationships with their sister queens, and to show others how young people CAN make a lasting impact.”

Katy with girls

Next weekend, Katy will be taking the same trip I did.. in reverse. ¬†With the people of North Platte behind her, she’ll head east to Omaha to compete for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. ¬†Directors Heather Edwards and Kali Tripp have done a FANTASTIC job drumming up the same support from the community, businesses and little girls in our neck of the woods.. all to cheer on this new generation of young women. Katy Greene is ready and willing to be the girl that ties it all together.

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“During the state pageant I hope to make a lot of new friends,” said Katy. ¬†“I want to go into my interview and out onto that stage and perform as best as I can and just show everyone what I have to offer. ¬†Also, I really want to get my platform out there and share my ideas with others! ¬†Beyond, I wish to be the role model that young children look up to and always give them the opportunity to see that dreams do come true!”

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Click here to follow Miss Twin Rivers Outstanding Teen 2017 Katy Greene on Facebook!

For more information about the Miss Twin Hills/Miss Sand Hills Outstanding Teen Pageant or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit their site on Facebook!

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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.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Alliance 2017 Kaelia Nelson

NEXT.. Miss Old West Balloon Fest’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Sheridan Blanco

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!

When Quality Meets Quantity

Every year as a little girl, I watched the Miss America Pageant. ¬†I loved seeing these sensational¬†women on that big stage on TV, showcasing their talents and exuding sheer joy when their names were called. ¬†I also remember my disappointment when it seemed Nebraska was ‘never’ called. Not exactly true.. our incredible titleholders won a slew of awards in the 80’s and 90’s, but we faced¬†a 17-year semi-finals drought. ¬†We have had phenomenal titleholders in our state, but we are also going up against states like Texas who have 50+ contestants every year in comparison to our 16 or so. ¬†How do we encourage more local girls to try our program?

Two amazing women are working to find the answer.

Kali and Heather

Kali Tripp and Heather Edwards are the Co-Executive Directors of the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Program, Miss America’s companion organization for girls ages 13-17. ¬†This year, they’ve helped recruit 18 young women to compete for our state’s teen title, the most EVER in Nebraska. ¬†These busy women have been on a mission to not just ‘sign her up!’;¬†they’ve scouted and invited in the best of the best across our state. ¬†As a result, Nebraska¬†has become a force to be reckoned with on the national stage and across communities everywhere.

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Miss Metro’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Jamie Chen

Heather and Kali ‘discovered’ Jamie Chen a few months ago, a striking young woman¬†who seemingly checks off every quality Nebraska’s Dream Team looks for regarding talent, intelligence¬†and service. ¬†Jamie got her first taste of the program at just 8 years old, when she was asked to perform at the 2012 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.

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“It felt so right to be on that stage,” Jamie told me recently. ¬†“So I promised myself that I’d be back one day, not just as a guest performer, but as one of those ‘queens’.”

Even then, Jamie knew there was a great deal more to this world, and ultimately, her reasons off stage are what compelled her to compete.

“One of the key reasons that I am participating in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program is that it is¬†not¬†the stereotypical beauty contest,” said Jamie. ¬†“Instead, it goes far beyond that image to helping young women empower others. ¬†[This organization] gives us an opportunity to make a true difference in our community, to imprint ourselves and our message on the hearts of children not only in our own community, but all across the state.”

Disproving stereotypes is a mission Jamie seems to have been born with, shunning the rules of boys and girls for as far back as she can remember.

“I have always been drawn to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics.) ¬†Throughout my journey, I have been consistently supported by my parents and family, along with many of my teachers and peers,” said Jamie. “My story, however, is unfortunately not the norm: it is the exception. ¬†While the battle against misogyny may be a well-known movement today, its influence within the STEM fields has often been passed over. ¬†Girls grow up with toys and movies that value girls because of their appearances and ‘damsel in distress’ status. ¬†The daughters of our nation grow up believing that their true, inherent value lies in how other people, particularly boys, look at them. ¬†Too often, they go into fields that suit societal perceptions, rather than what interests them. ¬†This stigma, put together with workforce bias and the message that boys are receiving from society, ‘go out and conquer, even if that means being sexist and otherwise biased,’ makes for a deadly combination in the numbers of women in STEM.”

Chen

What you just read came from a 12-year old. ¬†A powerful mission statement from a young woman who is dual enrolled at both Scottsbluff High School and Stanford University’s Online High School. ¬†She’s Class President, a Student Ambassador, Captain of the Math Bowl Team, a national qualifier the national MathCounts competition in Washington DC, ¬†and oh, and by the way, she’s already scored a perfect 36 on her ACT and has been offered a full ride to UNL.. at 12 years old.

“I’d describe myself as a leader, confident and humble,” said Jamie. ¬†“Leaders inspire greatness in others and bring out the best around them. ¬†I hope to empower others to reach their full potential. ¬†Confidence is contagious. ¬†By believing in my own inner strength and finding my inner hero, I aspire to influence everyone around me to do incredible things in life.”

Any variety of incredible things.. like music. ¬†Jamie is not only a brilliant young woman (AGAIN, 36 ON HER ACT…), she’s a gifted musician, playing piano since the age of 5 and the french horn since the age of 9.

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“I pride myself on being a well-rounded person who enjoys both academics, extracurriculars and sports,” said Jamie. ¬†“I am always willing to try new things, and I believe that this contributes to a large part of who I am today.”

A young woman who has visited schools all over her hometown of Scottsbluff, hoping to encourage her fellow students and provide them resources to achieve their goals. ¬†She created the Scottsbluff Giving Club for language and math tutoring, she cofounded the Scottsbluff High Science Olympiad program, and she cofounded Erudit, an education start-up offering educational resources for students across the US. Jamie has reached out to national organizations including the National Girls Collaborative Project and the American Association of University Women for ideas. ¬†Locally, she’s also worked with the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library to host STEM Clubs, providing her fellow students hands on activities and discussions to pique their interest in the same fields.

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Article courtesy the Scottsbluff Star Herald

“As a contestant in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant, I have grown all too aware that I am now no longer living for myself, but as a role model to children everywhere,” said Jamie. ¬†“It has been a journey that I have willingly embraced; the organization has truly pushed me to become the best version of myself, to remember that in every action lies an example for everyone out there. ¬†I wake up in the morning thinking ‘how I live and what I do today might influence the way that another young girl looks at the world’.”

Now every year when I watch Miss America on TV, I keep my fingers crossed that ABC will do more to highlight what is outstanding about these women and how this organization rewards those gifts and hard work to develop them. ¬†That the new Miss America will receive $50,000+ to pay for her college education, and three state contestants¬†pursuing STEM careers will each receive $5,000 every year. ¬†I still get nervous and uber excited¬†about hearing ‘Nebraska!’ but now I am as confident in our chances as ever, knowing teens like Jamie Chen are representing our state.¬†Thanks to Kali and Heather, our numbers are certainly growing.. and the quality of character is simply outstanding.

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“It has always been my dream to become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, not because of the crown or sash, but because it lends credibility to my work concerning my platform,” said Jamie. ¬†“The Outstanding Teen program focuses on making a difference in our world, and that is exactly what I aim to do. ¬†I hope to cultivate a message of ‘we can and we will’ in girls across the state.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Metro’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Jamie Chen on Facebook.

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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.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Alex Nervig

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!

Brilliance

BRILLIANCE (n)

1. great brightness; luster
2. excellence or distinction; conspicuous talent, mental ability, etc.
3. splendor, elegance, or magnificence:

EXAMPLES OF BRILLIANCE:

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This week at work, my friend Kim asked me if I watched Miss Universe.  With that, she unknowingly invited me to share my original oratory for why I LOVE pageantry, and in particularly, the Miss Nebraska Organization.

 1. INSPIRATION. These women are clear evidence of how beautiful our bodies can be when we exercise, eat right and take care of ourselves.  Every single time I feel that fire within myself rekindling to JUST DO IT, looking like that IS POSSIBLE with focus and hard work.

2. RADIANCE.  I am a proud, strong, confidant woman.  I can be all of those things and still LOVE to dress up and feel like a queen.  The gowns, the glitz, and regarding Miss America, the beauty and art behind each talent performed on stage.. I LOVE IT.  Being a woman is a beautiful thing; focusing on that beauty and allowing each woman is radiate is spectacular.

3.  CONFIRMATION.  Evidence of the intelligence, articulation and confidence so many of these women possess in their interviews on stage and off.  Women at Miss Nebraska last year were asked questions on issues ranging from prison overcrowding, to education funding, to social media challenges.  These are real issues we as a society face, and in front of hundreds (and sometimes, millions of people on live TV), these women address each topic and prove time and time again you can look amazing, and FEEL fantastic, AND be BRILLIANT.

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And with that… the time has come for Year 4 of There She Is, my annual series profiling each of the Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestants.

This program is RELEVANT, providing countless opportunities for young women in our state to speak, perform and to raise money for their futures beyond pageantry.  Miss Nebraska 2014 Megan Swanson went on to perform the National Anthem for tens of thousands at the College World Series and is currently pursuing a recording career.  Miss Nebraska 2016 Aleah Peters has visited dozens of schools crisscrossing Nebraska to speak to children about cyberbullying and what they can do both before and after it happens.  Both she and Miss Nebraska 2015 Alyssa Howell topped $20,000 in cash scholarships during their time competing for Miss Nebraska and then Miss America, money that helped both pay for their college educations.

One¬†of the other things I have come to cherish about this program is the camaraderie it creates between the women who compete, and the women who work behind the scenes to make it happen. ¬†I look forward to Miss Nebraska events all year long not only for the glitz and glamour, but to be surrounded by women who work everyday to ‘have it all’. ¬†Our goals are so similar; to give to our¬†families while serving others, to make sure we are hitting the gym and eating right despite nonstop schedules, to reach the top of our career fields the right way,¬†through hard work, respect and kindness.

“Someone else’s strengths are not my weaknesses.” ¬†

–Miss Pennsylvania 2014 Amanda Smith

We live in a competitive world, folks; I can’t tell you how many times people seemed surprised when I told them Melissa Fry was one of my dearest friends at KETV and that Julie Cornell was a leader and mentor to all of us. ¬†Much like in the pageant world, I think people assume there’s an Anchorman/Miss Congeniality mentality where women are constantly fighting with each other to be the It Girl. ¬†Programs like Miss Nebraska reinforce a culture of unity and support between women. ¬†Is it competitive? ¬†For sure. ¬†But one of our constant goals is to teach women to compete with themselves and not others. ¬†To focus on defeating procrastination, weakness, distractions, NOT other women. ¬†To be the best THEY can be, and allowing others to inspire, not deflate. ¬†Those lessons translate far¬†beyond pageantry in teaching young women how to support each other, creating more positive work environments, support networks and friendships. ¬†To better handle challenges and disappointments, to better foster team work and productivity. ¬†I daresay these are intangible qualities that every employer in America prizes in their staff.

Happy February; the countdown has officially begun. ¬†To this weekend’s Crowns and Gowns event in North Platte and to the final weeks and months leading up to the competitions that will determine the next two women to represent Nebraska in this storied organization.

If I can’t convince you to become a Pageant Junkie like me (shout out to the talented Carrie Lakey!), I ask you this.. to please support the women who take part. ¬†They are talented. ¬†They are beautiful inside and out. ¬†They are intelligent and well spoken.

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Photo courtesy Kali Tripp

They are BRILLIANCE defined.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant takes place June 7-10 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook

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

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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!

Twirling To The Top

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!”

CLICK HERE to read more about Steffany’s performance at Churchill Downs, thanks to the Lincoln Journal Star!

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.

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“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!)

ORPHANAGE

“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.

CLICK HERE to read more about Steffany’s success at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, in an article featured by KETV!

“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.”

TONY BOWLS

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.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

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“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!”

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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.

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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.

JENN CADY

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.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien on Instagram

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT STEFFANY?

2015 * Vision For The Future

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.. SPECIAL FEATURE: Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell!

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska 2015 Alyssa Howell!

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!

Let’s Dance

First off, a HUGE congratulations to Omaha teen Tharein Potuhera, the 14-year old who is one of only 45 students in America to make it to the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee. ¬†This guy is AWESOME, not only representing our city and his school, St. Wenceslaus, but drawing smiles and thumbs-up nationwide¬†with his signature ‘dab’ on stage.

Learn more about Tharein and his awesome moves here!

When we saw this last night.. my co-anchor Rob knew what Tharein was doing.  So did sports superstar Andy Kendeigh.  Our chief meteorologist Bill Randby even had the moves down.

Really.. Rob and Andy are crazy awesome–just watch!

Thanks to KETV viewer Paloma Power for tweeting that… and reminding me I HAVE NO MOVES. ¬†NONE. ¬†Really.. what happened that in my formative years that led to my body just crumbling in on itself whenever I try to move with grace and style?

I digress.. GREAT JOB, Tharein!!! We are SO very impressed by your intelligence AND personality.. and I personally am once again in awe of anyone with ‘the moves’, teens like Gering’s Sheridan Blanco, who will be showcasing her talent¬†in front of hundreds of people in just a few short weeks.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

Sheridan is a sophomore dance team member at Gering High School, and she’s also Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2016.

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From the Miss Alliance/Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Oustanding Teen Pageant Facebook Page on November 29,2015:¬†We are so proud to introduce our new titleholder-Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen, Sheridan Blanco!’

Within days, Sheridan was taking part in community events, braving the elements for the Alliance Christmas Parade with her fellow titleholder, Cherokee Purviance, Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen.

Just weeks later, Sheridan and Cherokee were volunteering again, judging a cupcake contest for an Alliance Girl Scouts group.

Winning a local title almost meant¬†Sheridan was eligible to compete for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, which¬†includes fitness, interview, evening gown and talent.

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From the Miss Alliance/Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Oustanding Teen Pageant Facebook Page on April 2, 2016: ‘Great day prepping for #MNOTeen!’

¬†The talent portion is no problem for Sheridan.. in addition to her dance background, she’s also a member of the POMS team, choir and band at Gering High.

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The Bulldogs dance squad not only performs; they¬†also¬†volunteer in the community, an effort going hand-in-hand with Sheridan’s new role as Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s OT. ¬†No doubt they’ll be cheering her on as she heads to North Platte to compete in June, along with her THREE beautiful sisters!

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One nicknamed her ‘Baby Sista’ in a Facebook post.. her friends call her ‘Sher-Bear’. ¬†Sheridan Blanco hopes you get to know her as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.. and whenever her name is called, she’s got some GREAT moves to celebrate the moment!

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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 Old West Balloon Fest’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Brianna Little!

NEXT.. SPECIAL FEATURE: Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell!

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!

Bring It On

If you follow my blog (THANK YOU!!) you may have noticed I LOVE highlighting good people doing good things. ¬†It reminds me our future is bright, that there are kids and young people willing to work hard, who put others first, who simply want to make the world a better place. ¬†With that in mind.. last February, I pursued a story about the Millard West Varsity Cheer Squad, heading back to nationals after winning the title the previous EIGHT years. I wanted to give these girls some attention and publicity for their hard work, but I don’t know that I had a vision in my mind of what cheer would look like.. or how much it takes to win a national title.

One of the first things I saw was EVERY, SINGLE, GIRL do a standing back tuck.  At the same time.  Synchronized.  These girls tumbled.  They danced.  They had attitude and energy.  They took a break, and they did it all over again.  I think I pulled my hammy just watching them.

CLICK HERE to watch KETV’s story: Millard West Cheer Working Hard To Continue Tradition Of Excellence

This ain’t your momma’s cheerleading. ¬†Brianna Little knows that. ¬†452 miles west of Omaha, the Scottsbluff native is hard at work several hours a week as a member of one of the top cheer programs in the region.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“The only All Star squad in Nebraska is about 6 hours away, so I attend Windsor All Stars in Windsor, Colorado,” Brianna told me recently. ¬†“That means traveling a little over two hours, both ways, twice a week for a three hour practice! ¬†I spend countless hours in the car studying and doing homework.”

Maybe it’s the cheerleader mentality.. anytime you feel tired you shake it off and yell ‘O-K!’ ¬†My apologies. ¬†Terrible cheerleader joke.. especially considering what this young lady has accomplished over the last year.

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At just 15-years old, Brianna was crowned Miss Old West Balloon Fest’s Outstanding Teen 2016. ¬†The sophomore at Scottsbluff High School ¬†is also¬†a nationals-qualifying member of¬†HOSA (Future Health Professionals of America Club), ¬†a peer to peer mentor with her school’s special education program, and she maintains a 4.043 GPA despite her advanced course schedule. ¬†Still, when given a crown and sash that represents style, success, scholarship, and service, Brianna said ‘BRING IT ON.’

“To me, the most important thing in life is to not back down from it, but embrace it,” said Brianna. ¬†“Don’t be afraid to make your own path because it just may lead to life’s greatest joys and secrets. ¬†Everyday I thank God for blessing me with a determination to go after all life has to give, not only to myself but to others as well.”

Brianna devoted herself to BEING an outstanding teen in her community, volunteering at event after event, week after week. ¬†She especially sought out anything to do with her platform, ‘Special Love for Special Needs,’ after forming a close friendship with a boy with Autism.

“Through my platform this year, I have helped with the Team Lydia Benefit, attended the Special Needs Prom for Meridian Schools, ran in the Torch Run for the Special Olympics, and participated in the Polar Plunge,” said Brianna. ¬†“My dream is to one day partner with my role model, Tim Tebow, on his Tim Tebow Foundation.”

And just as her role model has raised millions of dollars for charity, Brianna too is already seeing tangible evidence of her hard work.  Just weeks ago, Brianna organized the Special Love For Special Needs 5K, securing corporate sponsors and drawing numerous participants.

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By the end of the event, Brianna had not only raised awareness for Camp Scott, a summer program for children with special needs, and for the Autism Society of Nebraska… she donated THOUSANDS of dollars to both causes.

AT the time she presented these checks, Brianna had NOT YET turned 16 years old.

“One of the most amazing experiences in my life has been receiving my title and helping those around me,” said Brianna. ¬†“It has opened my eyes to a whole new world of service. ¬†True joy is not found when you worry about yourself; it’s found when you impact others. ¬†When you see the smiles and laughter of a child who is in need, the hope that is given to families, the sparkle in a girl’s eyes when she finally sees the beauty in herself, THAT is the purest, truest joy in life.”

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Brianna on Facebook: “I got to spend the evening with a pretty special little girl Saturday night. ¬†Lydia has temporal lobe epilepsy and was given a service dog. ¬†Training, however, is going to cost approximately $15,000. ¬†Our community raised $6,200 Saturday to help with the costs.

Brianna and Miss Old West Balloon Fest 2016 Claire Holsinger have also done extensive work in their local schools, visiting classes and raising thousands MORE dollars for Miss America’s Community partner, Children’s Miracle Network.

Adding up those checks? That’s $4,200 IN DONATIONS, collected by Brianna in just a few months. ¬†Yet, this young woman says she is the one who benefits.

“Through my participation in the Miss Nebraska Organization, I have really come out of my shell,” said Brianna. ¬†“Before I became involved, I was really shy when meeting or being around a lot of people. ¬†My communication skills have grown tremendously. ¬†I am now confident expressing my opinion in all matters and have no problem talking to people I don’t know. ¬†This has helped me achieve so many things in life, such as being a board member of the Team Lydia Foundation at just 15 years old, being successful as a salesperson, being able to express myself in any environment, and organizing an eent all of my own (which involves contacting many businesses and being able to project yourself as a professional partner in business agreements.)”

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Wanna take a dig at cheerleaders?

BRING IT.

If you weren’t convinced by the acrobatics and contagious work ethic from the Millard West Wildcats, just watch¬†Brianna Little¬†disprove EVERY stereotype you may have about cheerleaders.. and pageant girls for that matter. ¬†A Scottsbluff camp now has an additional $1500 in their budget this summer. ¬†The Autism Society of Nebraska can arrange family events and needed support activities with their donation. ¬†Kids, who face so many challenges in life, felt extra-important on prom night.. because someone took a little extra time just for them.

This, all thanks to ONE YOUNG WOMAN.  A cheerleader and outstanding teen with limitless energy and zeal for life, who is still hungry to do more.

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“I feel I should be the next Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen beause I strive to be a role model for and serve others,” said Brianna. ¬†“I will show young girls to be confident in who they are and not let society define their beauty. ¬†I will also be an example of scholarship and character for others to follow. ¬†I will take every opportunity to serve in my community and my state, as well as be the best role model I can be through leading by example.”

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Old West Balloon Fest’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Brianna Little on Facebook.

For more information about the Miss Old West Balloon Fest Pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  You can also find more information via the Scotts Bluff County Fair Pageant HERE on Facebook, and HERE on their website. For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Cheryl Engelhaupt by phone at 308-783-2940 or at 308-635-8615.

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’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 10 in North Platte, Nebraska. ¬†Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER¬†and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Western Nebraska 2016 Marie Allison!

NEXT..¬†Miss Harvest Moon Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Sheridan Blanco!

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!