Service, scholarship, style and success – these are what the four points of the Miss America crown stand for, and what every woman that competes in the Miss America system, no matter what level, hope to embody.
On Saturday, one teen and three misses won the chance to advance in the pageant system and continue to strive to exemplify those four characteristics.
Heather Egbert, the new Miss USD; Miranda O’Bryan, the new Miss Missouri Valley; Rachel Black, the new Miss Clay County Fair and Javonte Madsen, the new Miss Missouri Valley Outstanding Teen will all get the chance to compete in the Miss South Dakota and Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen pageants in June. Until then, they will be representatives for their local areas around the state.
Egbert, a senior studying media & journalism at USD and The Volante advertising manager, said winning the title of Miss USD felt amazing.
“Winning Miss USD was almost as big of a dream to me as winning Miss South Dakota,” Egbert said. “I love USD and it’s honestly my second home.”
A year of service is something that Egbert is looking forward to as the new titleholder.
“Any USD event, I want to be out there helping, the Dakota Days Parade, I want to be in there twirling next year,” she said.
Egbert is one of the baton twirlers for the Sound of USD. This was her second year competing for the title of Miss USD.
O’Bryan, a sophomore from South Dakota State University studying history and journalism, said competing in pageants has empowered her since her start two months ago.
“They’ve been very empowering and very building of my confidence and my singing and speaking skills,” she said.
O’Bryan said she is looking forward to her preparations for the Miss South Dakota pageant, but she is also excited to do more work geared toward her platform of adoption.
“Adoption is my platform partly because I was recently adopted,” she said. “I think there are a lot of young girls out there who could be empowered through the Miss American organization too that are in the foster system or newly adopted.”
Lynae Tucker, local executive director for the Miss Missouri Valley scholarship pageant, was in charge of planning the pageant. She said the girls went through an objective scoring process for this pageant that included a private interview and the different stages of the actual pageant. The girls competed in a talent portion, a physical fitness portion, a ballgown portion and a question portion.
“Our judges are given a very basic ranking system, but each girl is competing against herself,” Tucker said. “We never compare contestant to contestant in the scoring process.”
Great speaking skills and a passion for their platform are things that Tucker said she looks for in her titleholders.
“I think what makes a great titleholder is not just someone who is pretty, but someone who is charismatic, who can bring people in, who are interested in things like service,” Tucker said. “And then someone who is academically inclined. (Miss America is) the largest scholarship provider in the country for women, so they need to be academically driven.”
Tucker said the titleholders are guaranteed a certain amount of scholarship money, but they also get whatever money might be left over from the money raised for the pageant. According to Miss America Foundation website, the foundation funds a total of $210,000 in scholarship money.