They say life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.
I, like many (I hope I’m not alone!), have periods of my life that I look back at and just SHUDDER. Times where my immaturity and weaknesses shined brighter than the good I hope I project, times I hope others have forgotten even though I simply cannot. And maybe that’s a good thing; how can you climb out of valleys if you DON’T have those low points in the first place? How can you grow if you don’t recognize those mistakes and learn from them?
Life is a journey. There are lots of bumps along the way. It’s not how often you trip, it’s how many times you catch yourself, and even learn how to avoid those trouble spots. Let’s call it personal evolution.
Marie Allison is a Creighton University graduate who has never been afraid to try something, and more importantly, never been afraid to keep going or move on.
Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography
From communication, to patriotism. From classic to country. From rodeo pageants.. to Miss Nebraska. This young lady is no stranger to experiences or to changes, and her life is a colorful piece of artwork reflecting that.
“I am a music and art aficionada, an accomplished equestrienne, adventuries foodie/student of healthful lifestyle, fitness and outdoors enthusiast, passionate academic, and aspiring salsera (I love all latine dance!),” Marie told me recently. She is also Miss Western Nebraska 2016.
“I became involved with the Miss America system three years ago after deciding that rodeo pageants involved horses, sure, but they just were not for me,” said Marie, who went on to compete for Miss Colorado in 2014. “I love how the Miss America Pageant system is a platform for feminine empowerment and service. I became aware of the idea that holding a title is the ultimate responsibility and a job, not just decorative wording. I liked that idea and related to it on paper, but was unsure how to be passionate and employ it in my own life.”
So Marie competed again in a new state while attending Creighton, qualifying to compete for Miss Nebraska 2015. Marie chose a song highlighting her classical training (she now has a Music degree from Creighton), and as she told me last year, she focused on Communciation: Proactive Prevention as her personal message and platform (click here to read more!) This year.. everything is different.
“If asked before why I want this job, I would have had an answer, but I do not think I believed in my own ability to hold the title of Miss Nebraska before this year,” said Marie. “I have discovered more about who I am every time I compete because I am put in a unique position to think about how I relate to the world and why I do what I do (not just in pageants); my ideals, my goals, my aspirations, my values, my morals, and so on.”
Here’s a sample of what Marie’s discovered about herself in the last year alone..
She loves to create art, through something as simple as a selfie, or as complex as a sketch.
She loves to serve, and gets to do it through both volunteering and through her full time jobs.
“I currently work full-time for Omaha Housing Authority as an Executive Assistant and also with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network as a Marketing Specialist,” said Marie. “I am humbled to have secure employment that keeps me engaged in a constant learning experience, but luckily I find time to fit in working on developing the OHA Foundation’s donor base, fundraising events and childhood literacy programs, as well as fundraising for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and other organizations dedicated to pediatric cancer research. I strongly advocate both philanthropy and service in daily life an am always looking for new volunteer opportunities.”
And as she started planning to compete for the Miss Nebraska title, Marie did a 180.. changing her talent genre and her personal platform.
Marie attending President Obama’s speech in Omaha in January.
“My platform is called ‘Justice For All’. We have the power to love each other and stand together; it is time we use that power, ” said Marie. “The greatest challenge I see facing my generation is the rifts being formed by racial and socioeconomic disparity. It is my goal to start an educated dialogue surrounding these issues to invite people to begin making changes in their individual daily lives and their communities, which will translate to our country and our world. Acknowledging bias and prejudice and how each of us is acculturated is a first step twoards lasting change. I aspire to this challenge because of the very real challenges my family faced when I was growing up.”
“After much deliberation, I decided to sing ‘Where Were You’ written by Alan Jackson in honor of 9/11,” said Marie. “This song wasn’t exactly in my wheel house, to say the least. It is not traditionally flashy and showy like most pageant pieces, but I knew it was the right song because it was the one that gave me shivers I still have every time I hear it, and a song I am honored to sing. In Talent, it is my goal to connect with my audience in the short 90 seconds allotted. The message that there is nothing greater than love that keeps us interconnected is profound and is at the heart of my platform.”
To those who follow the Miss Nebraska pageant.. Marie Allison is coming back this year as a different contestant, with a changed outlook. To those who think negatively of pageants in general, Marie wants you to know Miss America has also evolved over the years.
“People who dismiss pageantry as an antiquated tradition where women degrade themselves by focusing only on appearance are often doing just that: focusing on what pageantry appears to be, rather than what it means to the individuals involved and seeing them as upstanding women who are future leaders,” said Marie. “Miss America has changed since 1921 to promote women’s interests. The women in the Miss Ameirica program are some of the most intelligent and wonderful people who are ready to take action to make a difference. The actual pageant, what you see on stage, is the tip of the iceberg of what we do and who we are: we have the beauty, the brains, the talent, and the wherewithal to make great things happen. There is a reason this has remained a great sisterhood and tradition for almost 100 years. Miss America showcases the great power of the feminine. I can say for myself, and for each contestant involved, that we mature as people because of the pageant experience, professionally and personally.”
Personal evolution. With the family and friends Marie calls ‘a core component’ of who she is, this young woman is ready to showcase her authentic self on one of our state’s biggest stages.
“This year, I know I have the goals and the wherewithal to make lasting connections that matter and implement a plan of action to promote the Miss Nebraska Organization,” said Marie. “I have a platform I am excited to promote, a plan, and conviction to see it through regardless of the outcome of the pageant in June. I know how I want to shape my year of service and what it will take to treat this title both as a humbling, awesome experience as a representative of this wonderful state and as a job to be done.”
“I would be honored to have the opportunity of shaping this role with a perspective that comes from hard work, dedication to learning and morals, and a desire to lift others up and include them in the conversations about pageants, scholarship and uniting together to greet the future,” said Marie. “I endeavor to be congruent in what I think and what I pursue in life and simply allow myself to be me when I compete in spite of the pressure to appear and act in a certain way. Knowing I can be myself and rely on who I am what I think in any given situation and that I am loved by people who are important to me is one of the most humbling, gratifying experiences. Winning is always nice, but the most uplifiting experiences for me come from accepting all the good and the bad that come with being who I am.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MARIE?
For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska Pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page. For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Heather Hayes by phone at 307-340-0601, or by email at Heather.Hayes@chartercom.com.
To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!