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Gering Women Hope To Bring Hometown 2nd Miss America Crown


Sheridan Blanco, Makinzie Gregory and Carsyn Long were just little girls when Gering’s Teresa Scanlan made history as Nebraska’s first Miss America. Now, all three will compete for the title of Miss Nebraska, hoping to bring their hometown a second Miss America crown. Blanco, Gregory and Long, all 2018 Gering High graduates, will compete at the 2019 Miss Nebraska competition in June in North Platte.

Blanco, 19, has already won thousands of dollars in cash scholarships competing in the Miss Nebraska program, including a $2,000 scholarship to Western Nebraska Community College, where she is pursuing a degree in physical therapy. Blanco was crowned Miss Scotts Bluff County 2019 over the summer, and has since volunteered at events across Western Nebraska advocating for causes including Special Olympics, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and sharing her personal message about Arthritis Awareness.


“The Miss Nebraska Organization has been a very rewarding program to be a part of,” said Blanco. “I have learned public speaking skills, how to promote myself, and am able to go to college for free all because of this organization.”

Gregory, 19, has won more than $7,000 in cash scholarships competing in the Miss Nebraska program. One of the youngest contestants at the 2018 state competition, she was named 2nd Runner Up, honored with a Preliminary Talent Award, and named a finalist for the Miss Nebraska Community Service Award. In addition to volunteering across Western Nebraska, Gregory is an active social media advocate for individuals with special needs, serving as Miss Kool-Aid Days 2019.


“I am so excited to represent all that I stand for in the Miss Nebraska competition this year from my spiritual beliefs, to my hometown and state, to various social issues, organizations, and businesses that I have become involved in!” said Gregory. “I am grateful for the voice and platform that the Miss America Organization gives me to advocate for my chosen causes!”

Long, 19, is currently a student at the University of Alabama on a full-ride scholarship she earned by winning the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2017. Long travelled the state performing for various events, speaking to schools and organizations, and volunteering for a variety of causes. Long, whose parents now live in Bennington, was crowned Miss Douglas County in October, and has made frequent trips back to Omaha to promote foster care and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.


“It’s so incredible that Gering gets to be represented in this way, and it’s even more incredible to have such successful and esteemed young women representing it,” said Long. “We have seen each other’s successes throughout high school and it’s exciting that we get to continue to see each other’s success at the Miss Nebraska competition this summer. I am confident that any one of these young women would execute the job of Miss Nebraska so eloquently and beautifully! Our program truly does encourage us to be the best version of ourselves. We become advocates for causes larger than ourselves. We strive to achieve our educational goals in receiving cash scholarships. We evolve into the women that Nebraska truly needs.”

The Miss Nebraska Scholarship competition will be held June 2-8 in North Platte, Nebraska, where candidates are eligible for more than $70,000 in prize packages and an estimated $1.4 million in in-kind college scholarships. Tickets are available for the event, which will also be streamed live online, at http://www.MissNebraska.org.

Just a Number

‘Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.’ – Luis Bunuel

I kind of think that’s hilarious… and darn true. How much does age truly impact what we are capable of? As a journalist, I shared stories about octogenarians running marathons and toddlers belting our national anthem… on the flipside, I often saw/see people aged years and more because of smoking, pessimism, or sometimes, life’s hard knocks. How much of us is because of the number of rings around our trunks.. and how much is because of our gifts, hard work, and attitude about what we WANT to accomplish?


Photo courtesy GlamCheck.com

At 17 years old, Teresa Scanlan was the youngest Miss Nebraska we have on record. 6 months later, she became the youngest Miss America in 80+ years. She had just graduated high school months earlier, had only gotten her driver’s license less than 2 years prior, and now she was set to travel the world representing our program and country. How did a 17-year old become Miss America??

Answer: CLICK HERE. Watch Teresa’s post-Miss America crowning-press conference. She is articulate. Intelligent. Confident. Charming. And the fact that she was 17 doesn’t take away from any of those impressive qualities, it catapults each of them ten-fold; these skills were natural, instinctual, and this teen/woman was something incredibly special.

Less than one year ago, Teresa congratulated another 17-year old, hoping to follow in her footsteps.


Photo courtesy Timmy James Photo

Her name is Makinzie Gregory, crowned Miss Old West Balloon Fest before she even started her senior year of high school.

“The Scotts Bluff County Pageant, where I won my title, was actually the very first pageant I had ever entered, so to actually win seemed like a dream!” said Makinzie. “I told one of the girls backstage that I would LOVE to get a picture with Teresa, my female role model. Sometimes I wonder about God’s sense of humor because I did indeed get a picture with Teresa – presenting me the award in her name!”



Makinzie says she admires Teresa because she is articulate, kind and genuine, the epitome of strength and empathy. For the last year (likely longer), Makinzie has also worked to show those same characteristics as a Miss Nebraska local titleholder.

“Being a spiritual person, I believe in what the Bible has to say about service,” said Makinzie. “We should all serve one another, no matter the circumstances.”

Makinzie is channeling that mission through her personal platform: Different-Abled, Educating, Empowering, and Equipping the Special Needs.

“My presentations to the three elementary schools in my school district are definitely some of the highlights for this year!” said Makinzie. “I hosted a change drive in conjunction with my presentations, and we raised $2400 that has been donated to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals! I adore the kiddos wanting to take pictures, asking tons of questions, being shy, and acting goofy. Furthermore, it inspires me to know that I have the unique opportunity to impact these kids and act as a positive role model for them.”

Makinzie’s message is personal; the Gering High School valedictorian plans to pursue degrees in Elementary Education, specializing in serving children with special needs. She’s partnered with the United Way and volunteers with Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy. In both roles, Makinzie is working to learn the office work, marketing, event planning and presentation skills, to best advocate for this cause as it relates to families, government, and the business world.


“I would like to either obtain my Master’s degree in either education, special education, or school administration to further influence the direction of younger generations,” said Makinzie.

She’s got a great start, scoring a perfect 36 on part of her ACT exam, and potentially earning Miss Nebraska college scholarships at her chosen schools: Western Nebraska Community College and Chadron State.

Makinzie Gregory - Miss Old West Balloon Fest

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“Most of the people I talk to are shocked by just how many opportunities for growth, scholarship and networking connections Miss Nebraska titleholders are exposed to,” said Makinzie. “One of my favorites is the growth I have witnessed in myself in only these past few months. I cannot even put into words how much I have learned and gained through my involvement in this organization.”


“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Unknown

The lesson we can all learn from women like Makinzie and Teresa, is to not let age define us. YOU define you. Maybe it’s a pageant. Maybe it’s a marathon. Maybe it’s a new love, a new job, a new adventure. Be vibrant. Be hungry. Take no prisoners, and see what happens, no matter what stage of your life. Makinzie Gregory may be one of the youngest women this year competing for Miss Nebraska… and she’s proud of it.


Photo courtesy Timmy James Photo

“I realized that if I didn’t compete, I would be constantly asking myself, ‘why?’,” said Makinzie. “My goal is to be able to see God’s work in everything. This is worth so much more than just an ‘experience’, as I have learned and gained so much for my short time as a titleholder. For that, I am extremely grateful.”


To follow Miss Old West Balloon Fest Makinzie Gregory, click here.


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


PREVIOUS.. Miss Omaha Allie Swanson

COMING SOON.. Miss Alliance Kodi Baumann

Great Scott!

What did you do this year?

‘Not much.. qualified for DECA nationals, aced the district music competition, sang in a musical, won state dancing, graduated high school and was crowned a beauty queen.  Whatever.’

GREAT SCOTT!!! I made up that quote, but all of the information describes the young lady you’re about to meet.


Miss Scotts Bluff County, Brittli Sell

She’s a little busy.

Brittli is wrapping up a jam-packed high school career at Scottsbluff Senior High School, all while preparing for the Miss Nebraska pageant in North Platte, taking place in just weeks.


Just this school year, Brittli competed in her school’s DECA program, competing in Districts, State, and qualifying for National competition.  She also competed in music, earning a ‘1’, the highest ranking possible, for her solo at the District Music competition.  She participated in choir and show choir at Scottsbluff High, and took part in Shrek the Musical.


“I am privileged to announce that I have been accepted into the WNCC (Western Nebraska Community College) Show Choir!!! I am SO ecstatic for what next year will bring!” — Brittli via Facebook, March 9, 2014

Brittli is also a proud member of the State Champion Scottsbluff High Drill Team, which traveled to Florida in recent months.


In the performance world, if you can sing, dance and act, you are dubbed a Triple Threats.  Using that logic, Brittli could be called a Quad Threat; she also plays piano and she’ll do it for her talent at Miss Nebraska.


“The moment that changed everything–becoming Miss Scotts Bluff County!” — Brittli via Facebook, August 6, 2013

Brittli has been to North Platte before, competing as Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen last year.  Now as Miss Scotts Bluff County, she’s promoting her personal platform she calls ‘The Growl Stops Here, Fighting Hunger In Our Community.’

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‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.’ — Mark Twain

I don’t know that there are many things Brittli HASN’T done yet; she is CERTAINLY living life.  (And saving lives.. did I mention she’s certified in CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguarding?!?)

In less than a month, she’ll be able to add one more thing to her ‘DONE’ list; competing for Miss Nebraska.


Connect with Miss Scotts Bluff County, Brittli Sell

on Facebook and Twitter


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


PREVIOUS POST.. Miss Lake McConaughy, Chrissy Townsend

NEXT POST.. **SPECIAL FEATURE** Miss Nebraska 2013 JaCee Pilkington

One Moment In Time

You know you’re a good singer when…

A) You are performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall

B) You receive a full-ride music scholarship to college

C) You know that under no circumstances should you ever, EVER try to sing Celine Dion, Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston at karaoke.  Just don’t do it.

Ok, that last one is one of my own personal rules. But can I get a ‘Heck, yea!!!’ from my fellow singers out there?!?!

I am merely a car-concert performer.  My audience is occasionally my two little boys in the backseat, and the poor souls in my neighborhood who can hear me through my sunroof. (My apologies.)  Today’s featured Miss Nebraska contestant is the REAL DEAL..


Miss Western Nebraska Morgan Yost

I don’t know how she feels about option C, but Morgan is making A and B reality!  She is a busy young woman, participating in show choir and choir at Western Nebraska Community College, majoring in Pre-Dental Hygiene, all while making appearances throughout her year of service as Miss Western Nebraska.

“Not only does the Miss Nebraska/Miss America organization provide many scholarships and other wonderful opportunities, but it provides real-life preparations,” said Morgan in a recent interview.  “It allows a person to be themselves while serving their state and community.”

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Morgan has been participating in pageants for eight years, encouraged to try her first one at the age of 13.

“To be in a pageant, you don’t have to be pretty or perfect,” said Morgan.  “You have to be yourself, the person who God simply created you to be.  If you put your faith in God, wonderful things will happen.”

Morgan describes herself as a ‘farm girl’ who raises pigs, loves to sing and likes getting dressed up on occasion.

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“Pigs and pageants?? I never would have put those two together,” said Morgan.  “Pageants have made me into the person I am today.  There’s something that has brought me back each and every year.”

As Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan is promoting her personal platform to prevent distracted driving, which she calls ‘Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.’

“Over a year ago, my community and hometown was hit with many fatalities that occurred because of distracted driving,” said Morgan.  “Having to attend funerals of girls who I went to high school with was never part of my plan at such a young age.  I wanted to choose a platform that made an impact on the lives of others.”

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Morgan has teamed up with the Nebraska State Patrol to speak at schools and other civic organizations across Nebraska’s panhandle, encouraging others to not only practice safe driving, but to make it a habit.

“There is nothing that can compare to the possibility of saving a life,” said Morgan.  “Although good things do not come out of every situation, God will be there in the end to answer and comfort your heart.  We must trust in His plans and purposes for life.”


Full ride music scholarship–check.  Singing at Carnegie Hall–check.  Making a difference as Miss Western Nebraska–check.

Let’s add one final option to the checklist:

You know you’re a good singer when…

D) You’re competing for Miss Nebraska, so you earn the right to sing whatever you want at karaoke!!!


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Connect with Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan Yost

on Facebook

Click here for more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska pageant.


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


PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Chadron, Kodi Baumann

NEXT POST.. Miss Metro, Kimberly Brennan!

If Nebraska Had An Ocean..

 I’m going to date myself again, but any readers love the Little Mermaid as a kid?  Anyone? <crickets>

Hey, Brandi.. 1989 called for you…

Let’s recap.  The Little Mermaid is a Disney CLASSIC about a gorgeous mermaid with an even more gorgeous voice who wins the heart of everyone in the ocean and in the end, a handsome prince.


If Disney ever makes a real-life version, today’s featured Miss Nebraska contestant would be PERFECT for the part.


Miss Chadron, Kodi Baumann

(Thank you Judy’s Photo for use of Kodi’s pictures!)

The red hair, the passion for singing–she’s perfect!

When Kodi recently replied to my interview request, she included not only pictures of herself, but images showing what music means to her.

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“I love being able to put together a song and perform for an audience,” said Kodi.  “The experience is so exhilarating!  I love being able to share my passion of music with a crowd.  Hopefully it touches someone and they enjoy the music I create.”

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Kodi first started competing in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program at the age of 13, looking for another place to sing.

“This pageant system has become so much more than another stage for me,” said Kodi.  “I have been able to discover who I am and it’s helped me grow into an accomplished woman.  I have had so many doors open up to me because of this system!  It’s singing that is paying my way through college and without the confidence I gained from the Miss America Organization I’m not sure I would be here.”

Now as a student at Western Nebraska Community College, Kodi is part of Varsity Vocalize, along with two of her fellow Miss Nebraska contestants, Miss Western Nebraska Morgan Yost and Miss Scotts Bluff County Brittli Sell.


“I have also created so many ‘pageant sisters’ that have become fantastic friends of mine,” said Kodi.  “I’m so lucky to call them friends!”

Kodi has also connected with a different kind of sister.  Her favorite part of the Miss Nebraska pageant is the Little Sisters program.

“This is a mentoring program that pairs young girls with a young woman competing for a title in the Miss America Organization,” described Kodi.  “It deals with sharing the importance of the four components of the Miss America crown: style, success, scholarship and service.  I know they have made an impact on my life and I will always think of each of them as my little sisters I never had!”


Check out Kodi’s online photo album featuring her Little Sisters!

Kodi’s real-life brother inspired her personal platform of service, ‘Fasten Your Seat Belt! Cross Your Heart Not Your Fingers.’

“When I was a freshman in high school my older brother was involved in a roll-over accident,” said Kodi.  “He had a traumatic brain injury, broken eye socket, four broken vertebrae, broken shoulder blades, and a broken femur.  He lost a kidney, suffered a lacerate spleen and liver and had to relearn how to walk.  I want to spread awareness about wearing seat belts because not only did it affect my brother, it affected my entire family.”

Kodi maintains a Facebook page, devoted to her platform.  Check it out here!



Kodi is honest about her feelings regarding the Lifestyle and Fitness portion of the Miss Nebraska pageant, also known as the swimsuit competition.

“I am someone who will always tell the truth,” said Kodi.  “I can’t help but feeling like [swimsuit] is a large hurdle for me to overcome for me and many others I’m sure.  I’m sure many can relate!”

(Blog author contribution… PREACH, KODI!! PREACH!!)

“But once you overcome that obstacle you realize that you can do anything!” Kodi added.  “Swimsuit is a very important part of competition.  It shows the physical fitness of all the competitors and plays a huge role in reflecting the woman’s confidence and pride in themselves.”

Kodi says she is focused to achieve that goal and others.


And adventurous, the kind of girl who loves to travel and experience new things (like here, kissing the Blarney Stone!)

Kodi sent me one final quote, not necessarily about music but everything to do with her..


Pretty sure Ariel had a t-shirt with this quote on it.

Nebraska may not have an ocean or any Little Mermaids, and Kodi doesn’t have time to search for the handsome prince.

She’s getting ready for Miss Nebraska.


Connect with Miss Chadron Kodi Baumann

on Facebook and by email at crossyourheartnotyourfingers@gmail.com

Click here to get more information about Cross Your Heart, Not Your Fingers


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


PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Panhandle, Mindy Schreiber

NEXT POST.. Miss Western Nebraska, Morgan Yost!