Tag Archive | ashley graham

Superwoman

Raise your hand if you watched Miss USA Sunday night!

Ok, good. Glad we’re all on the same page.

Oh, how I LOVED it – and how excited it made me for the Miss Nebraska Pageant in just 3 weeks!! (EEEK!) I LOVED the gowns, the intelligence, the poise… and the evolution.

The Miss America Pageant started in 1920, first created based on an event called The Fall Frolic in Atlantic City. Designed to bring business to the boardwalk, the main attractions were the young ‘maidens’ who sat in rolling chairs, headed by a Miss Ernestine Cremona, dressed in a flowing white robe representing ‘Peace.’ It was so successful, a newspaper-based beauty contest encouraged photo submissions, allowing women nationwide to participate in a ‘bather’s revue’; the Atlantic City Businessmen’s League paid for eight women from across the US to travel to New Jersey to compete to become ‘Miss America’. Margaret Gorman, 16, won the title and $100. 30 years later, Miss America 1950 Yolande Betbeze refused to pose for photos in her swimsuit. Sponsor Catalina created its own pageant: Miss USA. Decades later, the two programs have become the clear queens of the pageant world; two powerhouse organizations that empower women and provide them countless platforms for service, career advancement, opportunity and personal betterment. Perhaps my favorite part is that within both of these programs we are seeing more and more successful women of all shapes and sizes, a far cry from the bathing suit showcase of 1921.

Right photo courtesy Pageant Update; Left photo courtesy Vince Bucci/FOX

Miss Georgia 2017 DeAnna Johnson was a showstopper during last week’s preliminary competition in Las Vegas. She is curvy, healthy and CONFIDENT. Miss USA host Ashley Graham, the first plus size model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, grew up in Nebraska to become one of today’s most sought after muses, and just launched her own swimwear line ‘For All’. And one of this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants is not only working to become healthier, she is proudly sharing that journey to help inspire others.

Miss Queen City of the Plains 2017 Jaicelyn Shakespaere

“One of my favorite quotes is from Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio Grey,” Jaicelyn told me recently. “<She said>: ‘Before any barriers are broken, you have to break it for yourself. It’s so cliche to say, oh, believe in yourself, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ve already lost. For me to just believe that I could was enough.’ I want to make sure that throughout this experience as a titleholder, I am believing in myself. We as humans are all pretty harsh critics. It is important to put that belief that we can do things and believe that we can strive to make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small.”

Jaicelyn has competed in the Miss America Organization before, a woman born to speak her mind and destined to perform. Now living in West Point, she was crowned Miss Queen City of the Plains at one of Nebraska’s first local pageants last summer, and somehow, that moment sparked a new fire within her.

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“When preparing for pageants I never really focused on the fitness portion of the competition,” Jaicelyn posted on Facebook. “This time around I decided that it was time to change. I started right after I was crowned Miss Queen City 2017 at 240 pounds. Now I am currently 190 pounds. I feel more healthy and have more energy than I ever have before. This wasn’t just a diet for me, but a lifestyle change. I neglected to take care of myself for years. But throughout this adventure I’ve realized how important self-care is, both physically and mentally. My weight loss journey has been a hard one, but it’s been completely worth it.”

50 pounds GONE. I cannot adequately express how incredible that is, and the dedication and hard work that kind of progress requires. Yet, those are traits Jaicelyn has showcased repeatedly as Miss Queen City, particularly through her personal platform #Hopelist: Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness.

“Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a genetic disease that affects the motor neurons and makes it hard for the afflicted to move their muscles,” said Jaicelyn. “SMA is a very rare disease. In June of 2013, my cousin, baby Mathis, passed away from Type 1 SMA when he was only 9 months old. When he was diagnosed with SMA, my aunt and uncle decided to create a #Hopelist. This was a list of different things that focused on making memories with Mathis before he passed away. I believe it is so important for people to make goals and have dreams. As Miss Nebraska, I will help educate people about SMA, as well as help people create #Hopelists of their own.”

Jaicelyn notes this is what kept her coming back to compete for a Miss America Organization title, to serve others, visit people and share her platform.

She’s organized group efforts to make finger puppets for young SMA patients. She’s delivered cookies and Valentines to National Guard soldiers. Jaicelyn has spent countless hours in classrooms and kids’ clubs, encouraging them to eat healthy and stay active.

“I’ve been able to put myself out in the community and make a name for myself,” said Jaicelyn. “As a titleholder, I’ve also been able to meet countless people both in [my] community and across the state. That’s something I always look forward to whenever I volunteer or have appearances, is the fact that I constantly get to meet new people.”

And when they’re lucky, Jaicelyn performs for them.

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“I remember the day I fell in love with music, “said Jaicelyn. “I remember vividly as a young girl, waking up on Saturday and hearing Angel by Shaggy. I walked out into the living room and saw my dad standing behind his DJ equipment with the biggest smile on his face. In that moment, I could see how much he loved music and the power music could have on an individual. [This] gives me the opportunity to convey my love of music with the audience. As a titleholder, I’ve had countless occasions to share my talent with others and those experiences are the ones I’ll remember for a lifetime.”

Jaicelyn also notes the other perks of competing for Miss Nebraska; scholarships that are helping pay for her education at BYU-Idaho, and friendships through both our state program and the Miss Utah Organization.

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“[I am] spunky, energetic,hopeful and I have a BIG personality,” said Jaicelyn. “I enjoy being in the company of other people, whether it’s striking up a conversation with a stranger at the store or speaking in front of hundreds of people, that is just how I am and where I am most comfortable. I love to laugh and something even more rewarding for me is to make others laugh. Through this organization I’ve received incredible support from my family, friends and people all over!”

We all face challenges, and so often we say to ourselves ‘I can’t do that because <insert excuse here>’.

I’m not smart enough to apply for that job.

I’m not talented enough to get that part.

I’m not thin enough to compete for Miss America.

Jaicelyn Shakespaere tells herself I have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.

For every excuse, she instead finds inspiration.. sharing the stories of women like Malala Yousafzi, Frida Kahlo de Rivera and Rosa Parks. Each raised the bar a little higher, pushed themselves to do more and cleared a path for those who follow their lead. In a way, Jaicelyn is doing the same thing as Miss Queen City of the Plains. Competing for Miss Nebraska, and really, life’s journey in general, isn’t about being the skinniest or the anything-est. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself.. and Jaicelyn,  singing Superwoman on International Women’s Day, is doing just that.

Even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest, with an S on my chest, oh yes. I’m a Superwoman.

YES SHE IS.

“Since I’ve been competing, I’ve had the dream of competing on the Miss America Stage in Atlantic City. Competing in the Miss Nebraska pageant is helping me get one step closer to achieving my goal and crossing yet another item off of my #Hopelist,” said Jaicelyn. “I am going to be completely and 100% myself. I want to show the audience, judges and fellow contestants the best ‘me’ that I can be. I loved myself beforehand, but I love myself even more now, which I never thought could be possible. Win or lose, I’m going to show people what I am made of, what I stand for, and make sure I give it my all.”

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To follow Miss Queen City of the Plains 2017 Jaicelyn Shakespaere on Facebook, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Miss Queen City of the Plains/Miss Kool-Aid Days Pageant or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit their website, or CLICK HERE to visit their site on Facebook.  You can also emails Directors Angie Trausch at angie.trausch@gmail.com or Angela Keiser at angelakeiser@gmail.com.

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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.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron 2017 Shaniah Freeseman

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County 2017 Kogan Murphy

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!

Cover Girl

Maybe you’ve seen her on TV.  Maybe you’ve seen her face while checking out at the grocery store.  Maybe you saw her story here on KETV.

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Photo courtesy People Magazine

Lincoln native Ashley Graham made history earlier this month, named as Sports Illustrated’s first size 16 model on the cover of the annual swimsuit edition.

CLICK HERE to see the cover, and read KETV’s story about Graham!

I LOVE this story.  Ashley is simply jaw dropping STUNNING, and this cover is absolutely beautiful.  I believe God made us in all shapes and sizes, and as long as you are healthy and happy, rock on!!  In addition, Ashley is NEBRASKA; she grew up here, went to high school here, still has family here.  She was ‘discovered’ by an Omaha photographer while shopping at Omaha’s Oakview Mall.  She’s also appeared in Vogue, Elle, on The Ellen Show, and has modeled for Jennifer Lopez.  It always excites me to see OUR people make it REALLY big in their chosen fields.. it proves to anyone else dreaming big that YES, it can happen to you, too!

I’m not sure if runways in New York or photo shoots in Belize are on THIS young woman’s radar..

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

..but if they are, Savannah Rave is on the right path.  The 19-year old is the current Miss Douglas County 2016, and she’s been modeling for years, appearing everywhere from the cover of Omaha magazine to national TV.

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Photo courtesy Bill Sitzmann for Omaha Magazine; CLICK HERE to read the article!

You may notice Savannah’s props in this cover shoot.. the Miss Nebraska Teen USA sash and crown she won in 2014.

“I fell in love with everything the pageant world has to offer during my reign,” Savannah told me recently.  “I got involved with Miss Nebraska because I value that it is  a scholarship pageant that shines a light on education of women and their ability to do so much good with their title.  I am excited to be involved with Miss Nebraska because I enjoy the opportunity of being able to have my voice heard at not only a state level, but also a national level.”

It’s not uncommon for young women to compete in both the Miss America and Miss USA organizations (CLICK HERE to read more about the differences between both, from the current Miss Nebraska USA Sarah Hollins)..especially for young women like Savannah who also love to perform.

“I sing,” said Savannah, who held starring roles while attending Elkhorn South High School.  “For the Miss Nebraska Pageant I will be performing a musical theatre vocal.”

Want a preview?  Click here to watch and listen to Savannah singing, a link she provided on the Miss Douglas County 2016 Facebook page!

Still, Savannah’s favorite part of the competition is the phase that spans both systems, Interview.

“I enjoy getting the chance to be face to face with the judges and informing them on my beliefs and ambitions,” said Savannah.  One of those priorities is her personal platform as Miss Douglas County, ‘Spread The Word To End The Word.’

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“My platform focuses on stopping the derogatory use of the R-word and creating a more respectful environment for people of all abilities,” said Savannah.  “I chose my platform because of a connection I made with a young boy with down syndrome during my high school years.  I believe it is important for people to be politically correct in the terms that they use each day.  I believe in inclusion and in all abilities and want to spread the word in order to create a chain reaction in which people all over begin to monitor what they say, pledge to end the word, and become allies for those with intellectual and physical disabilities.”

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Savannah on Facebook: ‘I spent my evening at Night to Shine which is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and was hosted at Harvest Church in Norfolk, Nebraska! I had a blast with my prom buddy, Debbi, and we danced the night away. I admire the goal of this foundation and event and its ability to bring people together in such an uplifting way.’

  Savannah is also a passionate advocate for kids, volunteering with the Children’s Miracle Network (partner of the Miss America Organization), Nebraska Students for Young Children, the UNL Children’s Center and the Friendship Home.  She’s majoring in Inclusive Early-Childhood Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she’s VP Recruitment Chair of Alpha Chi Omega.

Savannah on Facebook: ‘I am feeling so blessed to be a part of two amazing organizations. This morning I visited the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha which is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and delivered handmade valentines that I put together with some of my compassionate Alpha Chi Omega Xi Chapter sisters! ‘

But above all of these connections and friends is Savannah’s commitment to her family and faith.  She’s the youngest of seven children and says her mom, Brenda Rave, is her role model.

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“I admire my mother’s selflessness and willingness to do anything and everything for her children,” said Savannah.  “My mother is a breast cancer survivor and a true definition of a fighter and a woman of faith.  I look up to my mother for so many reasons: her strength, her independence, loving heart, wild side, and her incredible cooking.”

THIS is what keeps Savannah grounded through magazine covers and photo shoots and crowning moments, and the message she wants to relay to you as to why she’d be a great Miss Nebraska.

“I know I don’t need this title to make a difference or to be content with my life, because I already do, and I already am,” said Savannah.  “To me, the title of Miss Nebraska is more than a crown and sash, it is a job.  I should be Miss Nebraska because I am ready for the responsibility, ready to make a difference, and I am prepared for a busy year filled with appearances, community service and lots of amazing memories.”

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Design courtesy Ellie Illustrations

Countless local girls may now be looking at model Ashley Graham, hoping and dreaming because if a Nebraska native can hit it big, maybe they can, too! HECK YES, THEY CAN!  And Miss Douglas County Savannah Rave hopes she and the other models, ROLE models she competes with, will inspire just as many future cover girls.

“The women in the Miss America system are educated, goal-oriented and ambitious,” said Savannah.  “Each woman stands for something she believes in and is not afraid to have her voice heard, which is something that should be respected.  The women in these pageants are role models I would want my daughter to look up to someday.”

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Photo courtesy Katie Meeks

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CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Douglas County 2016 Savannah Rave

on FACEBOOK, on TWITTER, on INSTAGRAM

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SAVANNAH?

CLICK HERE * Miss Nebraska Teen USA 2014

For more information about the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County Pageant, visit THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Executive Director Marianne Grubaugh at ggrubaugh@cox.net or by phone at 402-330-8033.

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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 Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Grace Heggem!

NEXT.. Miss Alliance 2016 Kate Lynne Duncan!

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!