Let's say you just won your local competition, congratulations! You are now on the next step of your Miss America journey ~ getting ready for your state competition. It may be months away, but don’t be fooled! Competition week will be here before you know it and every day until then is a day you can use to prepare.
Photo by Paula Preston Photographer
9 Ways to Prepare for Your State Competition Now!
By Kathryn Kueppers
I wrote this blog to share the things I focused on when I competed for the title of Miss Minnesota for the second time. I treated my local title as Miss Coon Rapids like it was my full time job! The key for me was to do at least one thing each day, even if it was as small as texting my local director updates or running through my talent in between classes. You don’t have to do every one of my suggestions every single day, you’d go crazy! But these are some things to do so you’re optimizing your time as you get ready for the big competition! For those of you who are thinking of competing for your first local title there is still plenty here for you to think about as you begin your journey to the Miss America stage.
1. Communicate with your Local Director.
This one is super important, even if it’s just a few texts here or there! Your Local Director is there to help you get ready for the state competition and make the most of your year. Find out their expectations and let them know your goals as their titleholder. This makes it easier to collaborate with them and come up with new ideas! Also, always check with them before you make appearances, speak, fundraise, or do anything with the name of your title. Your directors are your best resources, especially if you are new. So work with them!
2. Arrange speaking opportunities.
Find every opportunity to get in front of a group of people to speak. Your local committee might even be able to arrange something for you. Schools, Rotary Clubs, and other similar civic organizations are great places to speak about your Social Impact Initiative. By practicing speaking, you’ll start to develop and refine talking points for interview and onstage question.
3. Start developing yourself on social media.
You’ve most likely noticed how much social media has expanded over the past few years. Now is the time to start using platforms like Instagram, IGTV, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to brand yourself. This is also a great way to advocate for your Social Impact Initiative and update people on what you are doing! Some easy ways to get started are to create accounts for your title and develop hashtags unique to you and your initiative. Use Facebook and Instagram stories and highlights to help people get to know you. Give your judges lots of social media to sift through so they can get to know you better before you meet them in interview!
>>> Side note <<<<<<
EDIT YOUR PHOTOS.
No one needs to see a photo of you on a stage where you are the size of the ant and you see more of the floor and ceiling. Edit your photos so people can see YOU. Watch what is behind you in the photo and look for good lighting. If you post a photo, it should look good and you should look good in it!
4. Keep working on talent.
Talent is now the highest scored competition, but don’t let that scare you! If you want to gain points in this area I suggest you find places to perform and improve your talent. For me, I found a great group of jazz musicians that I did gigs with which really helped me refine my talent abilities for state. I took every opportunity I could to get on a stage and sing to help me improve!
5. Fundraise for CMN
Part of your involvement with Miss America includes volunteering and fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Now, this does not mean simply asking your family and friends for donations. You can work with your local committee to develop a creative fundraising event. I have always fundraised by selling my handmade earrings and other crafts at different church events or craft sales. Other ideas would be selling candy bars at your school during sporting events; have pancake breakfast at your church; a walk; a bake sale; sometimes you can partner with a restaurant to donate proceeds to CMN if you set a date with them and get people to their restaurant. The ideas are endless if you take time to be creative.
6. Attend local competitions to meet and get to know your class.
Attending local competitions is so valuable! You meet women in the sisterhood, learn more about competing by watching others, and it can even be a chance for a fun road trip! For more on this subject of the benefits of attending local competitions, read my blog here!
7. Start paperwork now.
While paperwork isn’t due until closer to the state competition, you don’t want to be writing your Resume and Social Impact Statement the night before you turn them in! This isn’t like a college essay where you start at 7pm before it’s due at midnight (though we’ve all been there!) One way to get started is to keep a file on your computer desktop dedicated to all of your ideas. Focus on editing and adding a little at a time, sending different versions of your paperwork to your committee for reviewing, and then editing again. If you stay at this process and work a little at a time, paperwork will be done before you know it! The key is to start now!
8. Start wardrobe preparation now.
Personally, my wardrobe is one of the first things I take care of. I work to have all of my competition clothing selected, accessorized, and altered months before the competition. Part of this is due to the stories I’ve heard of people trying to find a tailor to fix a dress two days before competition... No one needs that last minute stress! Plus, once you have your state wardrobe together you can start working on the important stuff like service work, finalizing paperwork, or fundraising! Believe me, picking out your wardrobe early is a huge stress reliever!
9. Treat your local title like a real job.
If you earn your state title, your year of service will be much more than a full time job. There are expectations, deadlines, sponsorship responsibilities, and paperwork. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of the fun stuff, too! One way to prepare yourself for a state title is to take your local title seriously. Commit to trying some of the things above like speaking, fundraising, and working with your local director to grow your Social Impact Initiative. It's important to develop the mindset that your service, social impact, social media, preparation, talent, speaking, and fundraising should be well formed before you win. This way, you will be ready to hit the ground running with that state title!
One thing I love to say of this organization is that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it! This experience has the potential to be a life changing year, but it’s up to you to make the experience amazing. So dive in, try new things, challenge yourself, and enjoy the journey.
P.S. If you have a teen or even princesses, don't forget to show them some love too! They are our future leaders and you are their mentor.
Becoming a state titleholder has introduced me to so many new people around the country. I thought I would take this opportunity tell you more about myself with a list of 20 things to help you get to know me better!
20 Things You May Not Know About Me
By Kathryn Kueppers
1. I was 14 years old when I started competing in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen program. I will finish competing with the Miss America Organization on the Miss America stage this December!
2. Like a true Minnesotan, I love the snow!❄️Unlike a true Minnesotan, I've never been ice fishing...
3. Far too many of my clothes come from Amazon Prime because I believe in competing affordably!
4. My favorite inspirational quote is “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
5. My favorite everyday quote is: “A positive attitude may not solve all of your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” 😎
6. I have a Culinary Arts degree... yet my favorite thing to make myself will always be a tuna melt!
7. I took comedy improv classes to learn a new perspective on public speaking and to get used to thinking on my feet.
8. I have two older brothers, A.J. and Robert, who have always treated me with tender loving care... 😜
9. The “studio” I film all of my videos in is actually my brothers' old bedroom!
10. Taking walks is how I relax and come up with new ideas!
11. The best advice I’ve ever received is that authenticity breeds confidence and comparison is the death of confidence.
12. The Invisible Crown was inspired by women I’ve met and learned from through Miss America.
13. I performed in the Mall of America Rotunda several times. Singing in front of large audiences helped me get over my stage fright and has taught me a lot about performing!
14. When I competed as a teen, my talent was musical theater. It wasn't until I competed as a Miss and fell in love with jazz that I started having greater success and winning talent awards. Authenticity in every phase of competition goes a long way in Miss America!
15. I love singing in coffee houses because I love the homey-vibe and getting a free cup of coffee!
16. I filmed my very first YouTube video, “Saint Paul Spotlight” in January of 2015 about the Red Bull Crashed Ice speed skating competition in St. Paul.
17. Ok I love the snow... But my favorite season is Fall. #fallinlovewithMinnesota
18. I’m a huge foodie and, if I could, I'd eat at a new restaurant every single day to try new foods!
19. In order to graduate Culinary School... I HAD to take wine tasting every Monday for a semester.
20. I have been awarded $26,500 in educational scholarships through the Miss America Organization since I competed in my first "Miss" competition in July of 2017. 👍🏻
Surviving Your State Competition Week: 8 Things to Expect
Expect things to get lost.
Expect to be hungry at off hours.
Expect you might be on your own for breakfast.
Enjoying my fluffy pillow after the judges interview!
Expect to need more deodorant!
BONUS ADVICE: Make and bring a LOOK BOOK
Look Book (noun): A “book” (or binder) with every item listed you will need for each day of the state competition week. This includes, but is not limited to:
I hope this list will be helpful for you to have a less stressful time at your State Competition. It is a week like no other. Memories and lasting friendships are made during this crazy, exciting, and challenging time. Good Luck!
The Miss America Social Impact Initiative (SII) is each titleholder’s unique way of connecting to a broader audience during her year of service. How one effectively makes an impact is another matter. Each Initiative has different messages and goals so there is not one easy formula for all! However, there is a level of dedication to the cause you chose to advocate for that will make all the difference in the world. Simply stated, to have a impactful SII, you should live it every day and make it a part of your life.
3 Simple Steps to Live Your Social Impact Initiative Every Day
~ by Kathryn Kueppers
The best way I have found to live your Initiative every day, is to simply do that: do one thing every day. Most titleholders hope to have made an impact by the time their 366th day rolls around, so let’s get started. Here are three steps to help you do ONE thing every day:
3. Every day thereafter: Do one thing, big or small, every day for that impact.
One day you could develop a 20 minute speech on your initiative. This will help you articulate it throughout your year. One day you could make plans to run a social media campaign. One day you could spend an hour researching your initiative; contact an organization to have you speak; have a good conversation with someone, even a friend, about your impact and what they can do to be a part of it. How about starting a blog? Another day you could create a logo for your initiative. Even posting photos that show you in the community with your impact can make a difference! The possibilities are endless.
If you have never watched the Miss America competition, or if you've only seen it once and awhile, here are 10 facts for newcomers that you might not be aware of!
10 Facts About Miss America for Newcomers
By Kathryn Kueppers
Miss America was the original national pageant.
Founded in 1921, Miss America will celebrate its milestone 100th anniversary with the crowning of Miss America 2021. The Miss America Competition is sometimes confused with the Miss USA Pageant, which was at one time owned by Donald Trump. The Miss USA Pageant is a beauty pageant and the winner competes for Miss Universe. There is no talent competition in the Miss USA Pageant.
5 Things to Know About the Miss America 2.0 Social Impact Initiative
By Kathryn Kueppers
1. Your Social Impact Initiative (SII) should be about something you have real passion for.
This may seem obvious, however there is a fine line between simply caring about an issue and actually being passionate about it. You need to be able to speak from the heart about your SII. My brother told me, “your initiative should be about Miss America, because you never stop talking about it!” Gotta love brothers, because he did have a good point! One test for your social impact initiative is that your family and friends already know why you chose it before you even have to explain it to them.
3. Discover a way to make your Social Impact Initiative unique to YOU.
This is your initiative. You can advocate for an existing organization like The Autism Society, The America Heart Association, Alzheimers Association etc., if you have personal experiences or a deep passion for that issue. A friend of mine created her own platform on Advocacy for the Arts. She is an opera singer and she adapted her love of opera to create her initiative 'Reviving Classics in Our Youth.' This was a creative and personal way for her to make a general social impact initiative her own.
In September of 2018, the Miss America Organization debuted its new competition: Miss America 2.0. Local and state pageants have been transitioning to this new format so that by the 2020 Miss America Competition, each program will use the 2.0 format as they crown their new titleholders. So what is new? Let's take a look!
5 Things to Know About Miss America 2.0
By Kathryn Kueppers
2. Swimsuit competition has been retired.
Women will no longer be judged while wearing a swimsuit and heels. This has been a welcome change as women are pleased not to have to model a swimsuit to be awarded scholarships.
3. Evening Wear with Social Impact Statement.
This elegant phase of the competition has been improved in two ways: Each candidate now wears anything she would like as if walking the red carpet - pants, cape, gown, dress, whatever it is that makes you thrilled to step onto the stage. In addition, Candidates make an 8-second Social Impact Statement in their evening wear. What do you say? Take key points of your Social Impact Statement and condense them into 2-3 sentences. This is your moment to articulate what you will do as Miss America OR share the impact you hope to make as a titleholder.
4. Talent Competition is now worth 50% of your scoring.*
Talent has been a cornerstone of the Miss America Competition. The only change is that now the scoring percentage has increased to 50% at the state and national levels, and 40% at the local level. Your talent presentation cannot be longer than 90-seconds and should reflect who you are. Consider challenging yourself as you prepare for this exciting phase of competition.
5. Private Interview 25% and On Stage Question 15%.*
Both of these phases of competition combined just got a whole lot more important, totaling 40% of your score! They are meant to focus on who you are authentically and whether you are that person confidently in front of people. The private interview is 10 minutes long with your judges. The on stage question is an extension of the judges interview, and you have 20 seconds to answer one question. It would certainly come in handy to start practicing answering questions in 20 second bites!
*For the complete list of scoring percentages and judging criteria, follow this link
One of the hallmarks of the Miss America Organization are local pageants. To be eligible to compete in your state competition, you must first compete and win a 'local' title. Once you attain a local title, attending other 'locals' is a great way to kick off your year. In fact, there are several very good reasons to attend local pageants.
7 Reasons Why Titleholders Should Attend Local Pageants
By Kathryn Kueppers
1. INTRODUCES YOU TO YOUR STATE.
I have had so many adventures traveling the state to attend local pageants! You learn some pretty random history at small town diners, and you get to know the state you come from and that you one day may represent.
2. PROVIDES THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THE WOMEN YOU WILL COMPETE WITH.
Going to local pageants promotes camaraderie among competitors. It helps foster friendships before you even get to your state orientation weekend. Also, it means a lot to the girls competing when they see you took the time to show your support.
3. PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES TO RECRUIT.
Any time you wear your crown is a recruitment opportunity. There are always little girls and young women at local pageants, whether they are there to support a contestant or to learn more about the program. You are a representative of MISS AMERICA and you have the ability to encourage these people to get involved. Why not take this chance?
4. PROVIDES MORAL SUPPORT.
The volunteers who pour their hearts into this program are what make Miss America tick. Attending local pageants supports these dedicated individuals. They love it when titleholders come to see their program.
5. PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES TO PRACTICE YOUR 'LOOK.'
Each local is a chance to get dressed up and go out. This becomes helpful because you learn what looks best on you and also what you are most comfortable in. Plus, you get good at getting ready quickly.
6. YOU WILL GET TO KNOW YOUR AWESOME STATE TITLEHOLDER.
More often than not, our Miss Minnesota makes an official appearance at every local pageant. She speaks about her platform, the Miss America Organization, and performs her talent. Attending local pageants gives you more opportunities to meet your state representative and get to know her better. After all, you would like to have her job someday.
7. IT'S PART OF THE EXPERIENCE.
The local level is the first step and the heart and soul of the Miss America experience. Just think, by attending local pageants, you could be meeting, or actually be, the next Miss America. Remember this: the journey to Miss America begins on a small stage somewhere with a local pageant.
I am often asked by potential contestants, “what do I need to do to compete?” If you are new to pageants, I will do my best to answer this question. Here are 7 steps to set you on the road to Miss America.
7 Steps To Enter a Miss America Local Pageant
2. Choose A Social Impact Initiative
The Social Impact Initiative (SII) is a cause for which you will advocate during your year. Examples can be: childhood cancer awareness; anti-bullying; advocacy for the arts; healthy eating, etc. The best SII is one you have experience with and are passionate about. You should be able to speak spontaneously on the subject if asked, and you will be!
Your paperwork will be the first thing the judges see before they meet you in the interview. Your Resume should showcase your education, personality and accomplishments. Your Social Impact Statement is an essay about why you chose your initiative; why your initiative is relevant; and what you intend to do or what you have done to advocate your initiative. Remember, choose a social impact initiative you are passionate about. You can check out my blog about the Miss America Social Impact Initiative for more detailed information. You will also need a color photo of yourself for the program book and social media. Be sure to select a nice picture for the judges which represents who you are.
4. Prepare A 90-Second Talent
The talent competition is like “America’s Got Talent” for women and is a hallmark of the Miss America competition. You can sing, dance, play an instrument, recite a monologue, demonstrate a skill (yoga, painting, baton twirling) or even conduct a science experiment! You have 1 minute and 30 seconds to wow the judges. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be entertaining!
There are many pieces of advice I could share about wardrobe and what you should wear. I’ll leave you with this: what you wear should fit you well and make you feel great when you are on stage. It should reflect your personality and make you feel awesome! And, you do not have to spend a lot. I have found great dresses on pageant & prom resale sites, eBay, Amazon, and have borrowed clothing. Remember that you are competing to win scholarship money, and you don’t want to spend more than you can win.
NEW WITH 2.0
During Evening Gown Competition for MISS competitions, candidates will make an 8-second statement about their Social Impact Initiative in their evening gown. Watch for an upcoming video about the new Evening Gown competition.
6. Create Your Personal CMN (Children’s Miracle Network) Page
Miss America’s National Platform is the Children’s Miracle Network. Every contestant must set up her personal profile at and raise a minimum of $100 for CMN before competing in her first local pageant. Instructions can be found at Miss America 4 Kids. Once you have created your personal profile, you can email and post this link to friends and family to make a tax deductible contribution to CMN, or you can find creative ways to fundraise. You also can raise more than the minimum amount required for this very worthy cause.
This sometimes is the most overlooked part of preparation for new contestants. You will have a 10-minute interview with the judges, of which the last 30 seconds you may give a prepared (not memorized) closing statement. (NOTE: Teen Contestant interviews are shorter, so check with your local pageant. There is no closing statement for Teens.) What is the best way to prepare for this? First, read, re-read, and then re-re-read your paperwork! Do service work in your community. Stay up to date on current events. Practice answering questions with family and friends. You need to know everything that you have written in your paperwork and be prepared to talk about it. For keeping up on current events, I recommend theskimm.com which is an online news service providing an overview of current political issues. Have conversations with friends and family so you are able to articulate your views. The most important thing to know about the interview is to BE YOURSELF. Don’t answer questions based on what you think the judges want to hear. They are there to get to know you, so show them your heart! You can watch my video to learn more about the 10-minute judges interview!
Now that you have your to-do list, it’s time to final a local pageant and enter!
Those of us who have become titleholders in the Miss America system would agree that this experience changes us. But when our competition years are over, do we simply tuck away the rhinestone crown and never look back? No, we continue to move forward and empower other women along the way; and we do this while still wearing our Invisible Crowns. Even though we didn't attain the national crown, we understand that Miss America is more than just one woman. It is about all of us who continue to make a difference in our communities, our work place, and in the lives of our families, long after we have passed on our own crowns. This is what ignites my love for Miss America, inspires my platform, and motivates me to revitalize interest in Miss America for future generations. I would love you to be a part of it. But in the mean time, here are 3 things you need to know about my platform, the Invisible Crown! #missamericamovement
3 Things to Know About the Invisible Crown
1. The Invisible Crown is the LEGACY of Miss America
2. The Invisible Crown is INSPIRED by the women of Miss America
3. The Invisible Crown is about RECRUITMENT & spreading AWARENESS
Won't you join me?
Kathryn Rose Kueppers, Author