Pageants take patience, practice and planning. For Amber Hulse, a junior political science major, it’s been her life for the last seven years.
Hulse was crowned Miss South Dakota 2019 on June 1. She competed in her first pageant when she was 13 years old and has been on her journey to Miss South Dakota ever since.
To prepare for the pageant, Hulse spent time mastering the piano for the talent portion, familiarizing herself with current events and politics for the interview and creating her own social impact initiative — Operation Overload– a nonprofit organization helping kids with career planning in the state of South Dakota.
“It has a lot to do with getting yourself polished and ready to speak in front of hundreds of people,” Hulse said. “It’s a lot about being confident in who you are and not really worrying about what everybody else is doing.”
Through pageants, Hulse has learned how to overcome many obstacles, she said. She said one of the most challenging things about pageants is others not understanding the work that goes into it.
“I never considered myself a ‘pageant girl’,” Hulse said. “I’ve learned who my real friends are because they really see that you’re making a difference. I think the hardest part is breaking the stereotype and teaching people what it really is about.”
Courtney Remick, a senior medical laboratory science major, met Hulse through competing at pageants together and has been close friends with her ever since.
“We actually had a mutual friend who introduced us during an event,” Remick said. “I’ve really seen her grow and push herself to serve the state the best she can during her year of service and it’s really shown with all of the events she’s attended and planned.”
When it came time to name the new Miss South Dakota, Hulse said nothing could prepare her for the moment when her name was announced.
“The moment that I won, in the video it looks like I’m nodding my head, but I’m actually sobbing profusely because it just all hit me at once,” Hulse said. “For a split second I had to go ‘is it actually me?’ It was just a really emotional moment more than anything.”
Hulse’s journey hasn’t stopped since her crowning. In December, she will compete in the Miss America pageant. Until then, she plans to expand her platform and develop the business plan for her nonprofit.
Hulse said even though her job being Miss South Dakota is exhausting, it’s also inspring.
“I don’t think there’s anything that can really prepare you for being Miss South Dakota,” Hulse said. “You don’t have a lot of time for yourself. And that’s okay because every single thing you go to is one of those incredible life changing moments.”
Remick said she’s proud of the hard work Hulse put into Miss South Dakota and has high hopes for her in the future.
“It’s been awesome to see her dream event, Operation Overload, come true,” Remick said. “I’ve really seen her challenge herself to be the best version of herself she can be before Miss America.”