Tag Archive | Miss panhandle

Breaking Out Of The Box

I wrote a few months ago about the STEM explosion here at Westside Community Schools, particularly with our female students. Led by a cadre of phenomenal female educators, girls at Westside Middle School and Westside High School continue to crush anything coding/engineering/robotics related. AND I LOVE IT.

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I love seeing people crush stereotypes. If you’re good at one thing, that must be it, you must fit into this box.

Um, no.

One of the young women starring in this story of students slaying science is Ramya Iyer, a freshman at Westside High School. She’s been to UNO Code Crush. She’s the 2018 regional NCWIT Award winner for Aspirations in Computing. She just won her FIRST state championship as a freshman in photo illustration. AND… just this week, we announced she also won first place out of 5,000 international submissions in a student video contest.

Ramya

Scientist. Student. Techie. Producer.

There ain’t a box big enough for what this girl is capable of.

Same goes for 23-year old Emily Curtis, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Nebraska, who also happens to be competing for the title of Miss Nebraska.

Emily Curtis - Miss Panhandle

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

Mechanical Engineer.. AND a pageant queen? Could it be?

Hell yes.

Emily’s kind of a genius when it comes to ‘figuring things out’; solving puzzles using a scientific approach is her career and her passion.

 

“I was part of the Husker Racing Baja SAE Team, a student organization at UNL that got to design, build and race an off-road vehicle,” said Emily. “At the Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium in August of 2017, I was able to present my research in Austin, Texas to other students and researchers in the 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing fields. Ultimately, I want to work as a research engineer, focusing on sustainable manufacturing with 3D printing.”

<Editor’s note… here’s me just reading that.>

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So why pageants? Why Miss Nebraska?

“I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain,” said Emily. “I have about five more years left of school and two more degrees to earn, so the scholarship money provided by the organization is a huge help, allowing me to remain debt free throughout my higher education. Along with that, the performance aspect, and preparing to present myself on stage has made me more comfortable with presenting my research and approaching others in the field, two things that are necessary for researchers.”

 

 

Any scientist knows there is trial and error before success. The same holds true for Emily in this latest experiment. She competed several times, over several years, before winning a local title.

Emily Curtis

“Finally earning that title with overall interview and overall talent awards, after so many years, and numerous local pageants, really validated the hard work I had put into my platform and this program,” said Emily. “I was just so happy, ecstatic, delighted and ready for this to happen.”

She seized the opportunity to take her platform to the next level; a message for all little girls and women called ‘Empowering Women in STEM.’

 

“I advocate for a network of support and opportunity for women and girls interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Emily. “It starts with highlighting strong feminine role models within STEM, and then continues by providing women opportunities to connect with each other and the means to achieve their goals.”

Emily’s own networking circle has expanded to include the same women she’ll compete with next month.

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 “[My favorite part of this] is the sisterhood,” said Emily. “Before this, I have never felt a more instant connection than I did with each of the titleholders in this year’s Miss Nebraska class. We all want to see each other succeed, and I can honestly say that I feel that I have made 14 new lifelong friends.”

“The foundation of this organization is a sisterhood, and the concept that women support women,” said Emily. “This organization celebrates the strength of women, not only a individuals, but as a collective group as well. I personally have never met a more dedicated, selfless, and passionate group of people (people, not just women) than the contestants, directors, volunteers and parents I have met while competing in the Miss Nebraska Organization.”

How’s this for a hypothesis: perhaps, engineering, and computer science, and video production, and being a beautiful human being, aren’t as dissimilar as some would assume them to be. Perhaps you CAN be a ‘pageant girl’ and brilliant all at once. Maybe, just maybe, YOU and only you, can define yourself and determine what you want to become.

Both KMTV and KETV are sharing Ramya’s success across Omaha TV this week. (Oh yeah, she’s also EXTREMELY well spoken, nailing every interview I threw at her.) Simultaneously, Emily posted this on social media.

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‘I am so thankful for the opportunity to receive an education, and still thankful for the Miss America Organization for providing scholarship dollars to women like me to further their education. Next stop, Grad School!’

The message at Westside High School, within the Miss Nebraska Organization, and from incredible young women like Ramya and Emily is simple and clear: BREAK OUT OF THE BOX. Find what you love – all of what you love – and DO IT.

“I look up to women like Katherine Jackson, Jane Goodall, and Sally Ride, who broke barriers and showed us all how strong, tough and determined women can be,” said Emily. “With my local title, I have become a role model and strong female voice, and I know have a bigger platform to reach out to my community and show women of all ages what possibilities and potential they have.”

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To follow Miss Panhandle Emily Curtis, click here.

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The Miss Nebraska Scholarship Competition takes place June 7-9 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE to follow the Miss Nebraska Organization on Facebook

CLICK HERE to follow the Miss Nebraska Organization on Twitter

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Heartland 2018 Brooke Lodl

NEXT.. Miss Twin Rivers 2018 Hayden Richardson

Little Girls & Big Dreams

Every young woman competing to become Miss Nebraska takes on a personal platform a service; a cause she feels strongly about and spends her year as a local titleholder, and potentially as Miss Nebraska (or Miss America!), advocating for.  Quite often, these platforms come from a very personal place and are something these young women would passionately support with or without a crown.

For today’s featured contestant, her cause is quite simply a message of survival.

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MISS PANHANDLE 2015 JESSICA LITTLEJOHN

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

As Miss Panhandle, Jessica shares a story of an abduction attempt when she was a little girl, and how she got away thanks to lessons her mother taught her at that young age.

“This is why I have partnered with ‘Kidpower’,” Jessica told me recently.  “‘Kidpower’ works to create a culture of caring, respect and safety for all by teaching people, especially children, to use their power to stay safe, act wisely and believe in themselves.”

It’s a message Jessica has been spreading for several years now, last year as Miss Kool-Aids Days 2014, (click here to read last year’s feature!), and one she hopes to continue on a much larger scale.

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“I have presented ‘Kidpower’ skills to many school children in the school and daycare settings,” said Jessica.  “As Miss America, I would also be able to continue my work with parents, law enforcement and other community organizations concerned with children’s safety.  ‘Kidpower’ teaches the skills that can help prevent exploitation, harassment, molestation and abduction.”

Did you catch that? Jessica talks about being Miss America. She’s aiming big this year, graduating from Eastern Wyoming College this May with a degree in business administration and a license in cosmetology. The Scottsbluff native is also competing in the Miss America Organization for one final time.

“Once I set my mind to something, I do everything I can to make it reality,” said Jessica.  “I was always told if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough, and let me tell you.. I have massive dreams and I plan on achieving each and every one.  My first big dream is being Miss Nebraska 2015.”

SLEEPING AFTER WIN

Jessica is excited to display that determination during Interview, which she says is her favorite part of the competition.

“The judges only have ten minutes to get to know you as a well-rounded young woman,” said Jessica.  “Being quick on your feet, intelligent and creative are all important while trying to show them your personality.  You’re interviewing for the job of Miss Nebraska and you want to show them you’re fully capable and versatile enough to communicate to a crowd of business people or a small group of children.”

An example: Jessica says her past interview questions have included spoon versus fork.. and her position on American foreign policy regarding ISIS.

Fork?

All those interviews and past pageants have given Jessica more than just food for thought.

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Miss Panhandle 2015 Jessica Littlejohn with Miss Omaha 2015 Megan Gould and Miss Western Nebraska 2015 Chrissy Townsend.

“As I prepare for Miss Nebraska for my final year I can’t help but think how much this program has changed my life,” said Jessica.  “Oddly enough, I turned to the Miss Nebraska program to help me through what seemed to be a defining time in my life.  I would either dwell on misfortune or empower myself to strive for better.  Now I am graduating and entering into an industry I love with several career paths available.”

EMILY STADLER AFTER WIN  KACEY, JESSICA, ASPEN AT LITTLE SISTER NEON DANCE PARTY

Jessica hopes young girls across the state who have looked up to her will consider following the same path.

“The Miss America program is one of the largest scholarship providers for young women in the world.  With scholarships I have received from this program I will be graduating debt free!” said Jessica.  “The Miss America Foundation strives to change lives and influence young women across the country, joining education leaders in advocating for more young women to choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields of education.

And she wants to remind EVERYONE.. she hopes the path she’s on helps her keep those little girls safe.

“‘Kidpower’ would move the Miss America Organization forward as it already focuses on children and the importance of believe in ‘self’,” said Jessica.  “Nebraska is known for its hard working, humble ‘Get ‘R Done!’ state of mind and I believe I encompass all this and more, and would represent this wonderful state not only at a state level but nationally as well.  As they say, there’s no sky like a Nebraska sky; well, there’s no girl like a Nebraska girl!”

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Follow Miss Panhandle 2015 Jessica Littlejohn

on her Facebok page, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

To contact Jessica for appearances and events, and for information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Shardel Nelson at 308-760-7266 or by email at shardel@bbc.net.

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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’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Grace Heggem

NEXT.. Miss Omaha 2015 Megan Gould

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

FIERCE

“This is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce.”

LOVE IT.  I may print off that quote and frame it on my desk.

Let me introduce you to the author…

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Miss Panhandle, Mindy Schreiber

As you might have seen from my other features on this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants, the year of service as a local titleholder is no easy job.  It requires time, dedication and preparation, often in addition to school, work and other commitments.  This is Mindy’s FIFTH year of service.  She’s been a titleholder in Nebraska since 2010, finishing as 1st runner up TWICE at Miss Nebraska.

“My determination has allowed me to keep persevering for my dream job of Miss Nebraska,” said Mindy in a recent interview.  That same drive has also helped Mindy graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in three years and complete her graduate degree (in addition to her bachelor’s) within five.  Just four months from completion of that degree, she’s also a Family Medical Therapy Intern with the University of Nebraska.  Still, she’s managed to make her way around the state speaking about her platform and making appearances, this year as Miss Panhandle.

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“My friends and family joke that I live out of my car because I am always on the go to another appearance, school, or whatever may be on my calendar for the day!” said Mindy.  “I love being involved in many activities and organizations because it enables me to give back in diverse ways and meet people all across Nebraska while having fun.”

DETERMINED, PASSIONATE, OUTGOING

From the beginning, Mindy has been an ambassador for the TeamMates Mentoring Program, created by Nebraska legend Tom Osborne.  Mindy shares those experiences through appearances as Miss Panhandle, advocating for her platform of service she calls ‘Mentoring: The Power of ONE.’

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“Growing up the youngest of four children, I always looked up to my siblings in every aspect of life,” said Mindy.  “The lessons I learned from them, as well as from other mentors of mine, will guide me for the rest of my life.  Mentoring is ONE mentor, giving ONE hour of their time ONE day a week to help ONE young person be successful.  Everyone can spare one hour to make a difference in a young person’s life.”

MINDY

That influence from her older sisters is actually what inspired Mindy to participate in the Miss Nebraska system.

“I saw how they grew as individuals and as I watched them on stage, I told myself, ‘someday, I’m going to do that,'” said Mindy.  “Now, in the final year of this journey, I feel so blessed to be part of this wonderful organization.  What I have gained from competing cannot be taught anywhere else, nor can this experience be repeated anywhere else.”

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That is just one of the positive takeaways from the Miss America Organization, according to Mindy.

“These relationships are invaluable,” said Mindy.  “When the pageant is over, I will still have the friends I have met throughout competing and I will forever be grateful for that.”

Mindy says she has also remained debt free throughout her entire post-secondary education, thanks to Miss America.

“The organization is still relevant today because it is the leading scholarship provider for women in the world,” said Mindy.  “Any young woman can be a part of this incredible organization; there is no stereotype, making Miss America both relevant and relatable.”

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“Passion flows out of me no matter what I may be doing.  I genuinely want to invest 110% of my heart into everything I do.  It’s how I was raised and it’s a standard I hold myself to.”

The young women who participate in this system are the best of the best; they lead the pack in their communities, schools and churches.  In Mindy’s case; she’s leading a marathon of sorts and the finish line is drawing closer in North Platte.

Mindy Schreiber has her fierce game face on.  Smiling, of course.

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Connect with Miss Panhandle, Mindy Schreiber

contact her by email at mindyschreiber27@hotmail.com

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The Miss Nebraska pageant takes place June 5-7 in North Platte, Nebraska.  For more information, visit the Miss Nebraska website.

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PREVIOUS POST..  Miss State Fair, Aleah Peters!

NEXT POST.. Miss Chadron, Kodi Baumann!

** Watch for an upcoming post featuring all of this year’s Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen contestants! **