Tag Archive | college

College Ready

I have been so honored, as of February 3, to be Co-Marketing Director of the Miss Nebraska Organization.  From the get-go, our Board has had several clear goals for this year: to set a new record in scholarships for our contestants, to provide new opportunities for Miss Nebraska and all of our titleholders, and to host one heck of a pageant in just a few short weeks!  That said, we could barely hold back our excitement at Orientation as Executive Director Rachel Daly told all contestants, their directors and their families that this year, we were proud to offer an estimated $1.3 million dollars in cash and college scholarships.

$1.3 MILLION DOLLARS

Yeah, that is worth the jumbo font.  One of our key contributors, Midland University, is offering every single contestant, regardless of how they finish, $15,000 annually.  That’s a guaranteed $60,000 for every, single Miss Nebraska contestant if they are accepted into Midland University.  One young woman’s mother approached us to confirm this was all true, and when we said yes, she said she almost cried.  Her daughter, Courtney, is going to Midland next year.

Miss Fur Trade Days 2017 Courtney Pelland

“I want people to know the Miss America Organization is not based on how beautiful we are,” Courtney told me recently.  “Overall, this organization provides scholarships for the girls who compete to help with college debt.  That is a huge deal.”

Courtney, a senior at North Platte High School, has witnessed the positive attributes of the Miss Nebraska Program for most of her life.  As she told me last year (click here to read more!) she and her family have been involved with nearly every facet of the program including Host Family, Little Sister, Teen titleholder, and now a Miss titleholder.  Courtney has also been mentored by several Miss Nebraska’s, including Miss Nebraska 2009 Brittany Jeffers and Miss Nebraska 1999 Becky Smith.

“When I was 14, I wanted to start competing, but the only issue [I faced] was my shyness,” said Courtney.  “Halfway through my freshman year of high school, my Nana (my dad’s mother) passed away, five days before my birthday.  My Nana always loved pageantry and wanted me to one day compete for the title of Miss Nebraska.”

Now she will.  Courtney was crowned Miss Fur Trade Days last fall, in her first year eligible to compete for Miss Nebraska (click here to read an article about her win in the North Platte Telegraph!).  Volunteering has been a key element for Courtney in both her Teen and Miss roles, because she knows personally the impact one person can have.  In January of 2015, Courtney was admitted to the hospital, in dire need of blood.

“I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia; I was given two units of blood that day,” said Courtney.  “Eventually I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but I also realized how important it is to donate blood.”

And Courtney has been taking that message across her hometown and beyond.  She’s spoken to students and groups, she’s organized blood drives in North Platte, she’s partnered with the American Red Cross to strengthen her impact, and she shares powerful statistics and stories on social media, hoping to compel others to donate.  Click here to read the North Platte Telegraph’s story about Courtney!

“My favorite part of the organization doesn’t have anything to do with the actual competition,” said Courtney.  “My favorite part is being able to give back to my community in a different way.  A crown and sash don’t define someone, it’s about all of us girls making an impact on someone.  I have a friend who says the reason he donates blood is because of what I had to go through.  I am involved with this program because I want to make a difference in this world and help others out.”

 Courtney makes appearances and volunteers at events in addition to an incredibly active personal schedule.  She works, takes part in musical, is a member of the Pacers Dance Team, trains with the Dance Factory in North Platte.. and she’s preparing for high school graduation next month!  Courtney was named her high school’s Bulldog of the Month in December, click here to read more!

“I am a very busy girl and always on the go,” said Courtney.  “Being this busy I have to be very organized with the things I have decided on.  Once I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me. If I want it I will do everything in my power to achieve that goal or get to where I want to be.”

Courtney credits the Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Organizations for helping her meet those challenges, and find support along the way.

“This organization has pushed me out of my comfort zone and into this bubbly, caring girl,” said Courtney.  “I have learned that it is okay to state your opinion, ask questions and show the world who you truly are.  I am now able to go up to random people and hold a conversation without even thinking about it.”

“On top of me finding my true self, I have formed some incredible friendships across the state,” said Courtney.  “Miss Chadron Shaniah Freeseman and I are sister queens this year, and I have been blessed to have a girl like her by my side.  She has become a sister to me.  This type of friendship is the one I hope every girl is able to form.”

Making long-lasting friendships is one of Courtney’s ultimate goals for her experience this year leading up to and at the Miss Nebraska Pageant.  She wants to network, make her hometown proud, and use the life lessons she’s learned on this journey as she attends Midland University to major in Fine Arts Management this fall.  She’ll also have a little help every step of the way… some extra cash in her pocket thanks to the Miss Nebraska Organization, and some extra love in hand as she competes for her state title.

IMG_0848

“Every time I compete in a pageant, I have a buckeye to remind me of Nana, and I always carry it around before my interview,” said Courtney.  “Knowing that she is by my side drives me to compete and to make a difference in this world.”

***

Click here to follow Miss Fur Trade Days 2017 Courtney Pelland on Facebook!

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COURTNEY?

CLICK HERE * 2016 * Everyday America

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days Pageant or for information about becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook.  You can also email Director Sara Smith at misscnwdirectors@gmail.com or by calling (308) 430-2613.

***

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

CLICK HERE for more detailsHERE to follow on TwitterHERE to follow on Facebook.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Brianna Little

NEXT.. Miss York County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Alexandria Warneke

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!

A Bull Dog in a Pair of Pants

DO NOT mess with Miss Alliance.

Studies biochemistry.  Likens pageants to football.  Emotionally tougher than nails.

Let’s compare; I can’t follow a recipe most of the time.  My nickname on the softball field is 1-3 (as in, I hit it back to the pitcher).  I get choked up watching Carter’s commercials.

Yeeeaaaaaa… I’m out.

headshot

Miss Alliance, Staci Craighead

Staci’s been to North Platte before; the last time winning the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in 2010. (She’s one of three former Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teens, including Rachel Foehlinger and Lianna Prill).

“I earned the title [at 17] and fell in love with the four points of the Miss America crown: scholarship, success, style and service,” said Staci in a recent interview.  “My family’s values are very similar to these four points which allowed me to grow as a person with my family and the Miss America Organization.”

parents

Staci sees strong leadership at home; her mom Joni is running for the Nebraska legislature, and has actively been involved in the state’s Republican party for 20 years.

“Watching my mother progress and succeed as a businesswoman, politician, and volunteer has solidified my tenacity,” said Staci.  “Once I set a goal for myself nothing can get in my way, no matter the course.”

Staci has also experienced setbacks, including a tragic loss several years ago.

“I lost my father to cancer at 14 years old and hold on to his many words of wisdom as I grow into a young woman,” said Staci.  “Being earnest comes from my father’s value of honesty and sincerity.  His kindness and encouragement were the foundation for my love of service and appreciation for life’s gifts.”

7271_10151738662291908_613802955_n

“Happy Father’s Day to the turtle dove that greats me at my car every morning, and on my porch every evening. Love you Daddy.”

Staci has also faced disappointment; dismissal from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shortly after beginning her college career.

“I found myself lost in the transition between ‘assigned’ learning and ‘selected’ learning.  I had no idea where I wanted to start my education to further a career and ended up losing interest in my classes,” said Staci.  She took a year off to work and ‘grow up’, and was granted another chance at her scholarship at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

“Most will tell you that you’ll never go back to school if you stop after the first year or two, but I was determined to prove that staple wrong, and I did,” said Staci.  “[I am a] Chemistry major with an emphasis on biochemistry and [hold a] 3.75 GPA.  I want to do Bio-defense research for the military after earning a PhD in Analytical Chemistry.  I am a firm role model for those who have lost the spark for education as my college experience is proof that you can succeed in every aspect of life.”

little sisters

TENACIOUS, GREGARIOUS, EARNEST

As Miss Alliance, Staci is taking her personal story to schools and students planning, or not planning, for college.

“As a young woman and student, I have observed and experienced a rising problem among other young Americans.  Desensitization to debt and lack of appreciation for the opportunity to pursue an education are variables that are causing a decline in graduation rates across the United States,” said Staci.  “I am passionate about educating young Americans about the process of earning scholarships, the fundamentals of fiscal responsibility as newly independent individuals, and understanding what an incredible privilege it is to achieve a higher education.”

Staci calls her platform of service ‘Financial Education: The Dollars Make Sense’.

“I witnessed many of my classmates struggle to pay for school and keep up with the cost of living as a college student, which led me to realize that students are not adequately prepared for the financial difficulties that come with an education,” said Staci.  “I plan to work with high school juniors and seniors, teaching them how to set up a monthly budget, establish an understanding of student loans, and succeed in applying for scholarships.”

Staci also volunteers at Crossroads Mission Center in Kearney, in addition to her studies and preparing for the Miss Nebraska pageant.

crown

She also sings at local events, like here for an Omaha Beef arena football game, but Interview is her favorite part of competition.

“Sharing experiences, values, and honesty with the judges brings the process of competing in pageants full circle as it reminds me of why I am there, services and action,” said Staci.

She doesn’t need a reminder about WHO she is.

“I am a woman with a thirst for knowledge, a passion for service, and a hope for the future of education,” said Staci.

One more thing.. this beauty queen plans to become a soldier.  Staci says she will join the Army Reserve in her junior year of college.

The Army.  Competing for Miss Nebraska.

<<speechless>>

Staci: “I think camouflage and crowns go quite well together!”

We’ll find out soon–Miss Nebraska begins ONE MONTH FROM TODAY.

 190679_10150170898241908_795449_n

Connect with Miss Alliance, Staci Craighead

via email at srcraighead27@yahoo.com

***

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

***

PREVIOUS POST..  Miss Eastern Nebraska, Alyssa Howell

NEXT POST.. ***SPECIAL FEATURE*** Miss Nebraska USA Amanda Soltero!