Several USD students competed in the Miss South Dakota pageant in June in Hot Springs, South Dakota. USD students were named Miss South Dakota, first-runner up and second runner-up.
Miss South Dakota
Carrie Wintle, a USD graduate of business administration and mathematics, was crowned Miss South Dakota.
As Wintle prepares for the Miss America pageant on Sept. 9, she is taking time to focus on her 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Money $heep and being an active member of the South Dakota community.
Wintle said that she started her non-profit organization two years ago and the goal is to help the youth build a financial foundation.
“I specifically draw upon my education from the University of South Dakota and Vanderbilt in accounting and finance to help kids learn about different financial principles and then be able to apply those in their own lives,” Wintle said.
Wintle said from her experience raising lambs taught her numerous financial topics when she was younger. She tries to tap into each child’s unique experience and how they can apply a financial topic.
One way she does that is by having a book published called Mr. Money $heep and recently another book was published called Mr. Money $heep and the Financial Foes.
As Wintle continues to work for her fundraiser, Wintle has also been active all around South Dakota. She had an event recently called a “Miss America Trunk Show.”
Before being able to have those different events take place, Wintle had to compete in the Miss South Dakota competition in Hot Springs. This was her fifth year competing.
Wintle said she is grateful for all that the organization has given her since she started competing when she was 13 years old in the teen division where she was crowned Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen in 2008.
“It’s kind-of like I’ve grown up in the system and it taught me so much about myself and about different skills that I have made along the way,” Wintle said. “But going in this year I really wanted to just be me. Last year I came in first runner-up. There may have been a certain amount of pressure that came along with that but ultimately I wanted to represent the best version of myself.”
Wintle said with the Miss America competition approaching, she said she will go into the competition with an open heart.
“I’m excited for the experience, I’m excited for this opportunity (and) I am trusting in the preparation that I’ve done going into Miss South Dakota and now for the chance to really lean on that preparation and lean on the 10 years of experience in this organization to represent the state of South Dakota and represent all the good things that we’re doing here in South Dakota,” Wintle said.
Wintle said those entering competitions for the Miss South Dakota organization should be themselves and nothing else.
“Don’t be afraid to be exactly who you are. I think that’s one thing I’ve learned most from this organization and from competing that especially in my earlier years I think I tried to be what I thought the organization wanted,” Wintle said. “It was really exhausting to be someone who I wasn’t. These past two years, in particular, I have fully embraced exactly who I am and who I want to be.”
Miss Christmas in the Hills
Amber Hulse, sophomore political science major and the first runner-up for Miss South Dakota, said that the competition for her was emotional because she is originally from Hot Springs, South Dakota.
“The whole thing kind-of just became a way for me to give back to the community and my hometown and so it was a really emotional week anyway because of that,” Hulse said. “But then all of the sudden you’re standing there holding one of your idols hands and you’re looking at her and she’s looking at you and one of you is going to go to Miss America… that’s just a really surreal moment.”
Hulse said that when her and Wintle were together in the final moment of the competition, she was hoping that Wintle’s name would be called.
“To me I was hoping I would hear my name called as first runner-up so that she could win because she definitely deserves it and you know they always say oh are the girls catty? Are they mean? It’s totally not like that,” Hulse said.
The Miss South Dakota organization has four pillars for women to follow. They are style, service, scholarship and success. Hulse said the organization prepares women for what is to come in their life.
“A lot of people think of beauty pageants or pageants in general as the stereotypical show that you see on Miss Congeniality on TV and those four pillars are what the organization truly stands for. It’s about preparing young women for the workforce and trying to make them professional community leaders whatever they want to do with their lives.”
Heather Egbert, recent graduate of the media and journalism department at USD, is most well known for holding the title of Miss USD and becoming the second runner-up in the Miss South Dakota competition.
Egbert placed in the top eight in last year’s competition for Miss South Dakota and felt more comfortable this time around.
“Last year I was super nervous you know the entire week, this year I kind-of went into it like whatever’s going to happen (is going) to happen,” Egbert said. “I was super relaxed and truly enjoyed the week. I think that’s what made the difference.”
Egbert said that having Wintle move onto the Miss America competition will be a good experience for her.
“I am super proud of her. She was my roommate last year for Miss South Dakota and she’s just a genuine person,” Egbert said. “I’m really happy for her, she’s going to kill it in Miss America. There’s a little bit of changes with Miss America right now and I know she’ll handle that with grace.”