May 31, 2016 | 3 p.m.
By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, GS’16, New Media Strategist
Maggie Erickson ’17 just completed her first year in the inaugural cohort of Bethel’s BUILD program. She’s part of the planning team for Homecoming 2016, a tour guide with the Office of Admissions, a self-proclaimed fashionista, and a model and actress for a local talent agency. Now she can add “pageant queen” to her growing list of accomplishments.
In April, Erickson took part in the Minnesota Miss Amazing pageant. She participated in an interview, evening wear, and introduction portion of the event, and also prepared a talent segment, singing and dancing to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. Twenty-nine young women participated in six age-based categories for the state competition, and Erickson advances to the national championship in Chicago in July.
So how did she put her fears aside and prepare herself to go on stage? Erickson said she told herself, “that I shouldn’t be nervous, that I shouldn’t be afraid, that I can do it. And I did it! It was really a lot of fun.”
“We have seen incredible growth throughout the program—from participants, to volunteers, and audience members,” says Jordan Crosser, state director of the Minnesota Miss Amazing Pageant, who brought a branch of the national program to Minnesota in 2012. The organization’s mission states that “in an atmosphere built around encouragement and support, we believe the Miss Amazing Pageant can bring individuals with and without disabilities together and promote further inclusion for all.” The pageant is funded by donations—including volunteer hair stylists, aestheticians to help with make-up, and even refreshments—and there is no cost to the participants other than a requested donation of at least five canned goods, which are donated back to the community. This year, more than 350 pounds of food were collected.
The organization also gives back by making blankets to be included in care packages through Jack’s Baskets, a non-profit organization started by Bethel alumni Carissa and Chris Carroll. As part of her year as queen, Erickson and her peers will volunteer and make appearances across the state. She’s also looking forward to spending time with other winners, including Mikayla Holmgren, 2015 Minnesota Miss Amazing Junior Miss, who will begin at Bethel in fall 2016.