Being Miss South Dakota is more than wearing a crown, Wismer says

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Kate Wismer, a senior vocal music education major at SDSU, wears the crown of Miss South Dakota. She recently returned from the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., with many memories and new friends.

“I loved the Miss America Pageant,” Wismer said. “It was a really great experience to be involved in.”

Wismer was the runner-up in the Miss SDSU pageant in 2007 and the winner of the Miss South Dakota State Fair pageant, for which she raised $100 in funds for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). After winning the Miss South Dakota State Fair pageant and moving on to win the title of Miss South Dakota–for which she earned $250 for CMN-she not only received a crown, but she also had a new job.

As Miss South Dakota, Wismer was required to promote her personal platform for one year. Wismer helped promote The Reading Advantage by traveling to schools and speaking to kids about the importance of reading. She also helped with the reading programs in the Brookings Public Library as well as some in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The great thing is that you can reach so many people, including students and adults,” said Wismer. “The crown really turns into a megaphone; having the title really does grab people’s attention.”

Along with promoting her platform, Wismer raised $500 in funds for CMN in order to be able to be a contestant in the Miss America Pageant.

Kate received a $6,100 scholarship for winning the Miss South Dakota pageant and a $1,000 scholarship for winning the talent portion of the show. All together she earned $7,100 in scholarship money and a brand new 2007 Chrysler Sebring that she will keep until June 2008 when she gives up her crown.

“I think the pageant is a great opportunity for women to gain experience, and it helps them earn valuable scholarship money for their education,” said Marcel Thielke, a junior business management and economics major and longtime friend of Wismer.

When most women win the Miss South Dakota pageant, they take a year off of school, but Wismer was not sure she could do that much. “I am a part-time student, spending two days a week on campus and the other three traveling to schools and promoting the Reading Advantage,” she said.

Wismer also gained invaluable experience from the pageant. “The pageant helped us gain interview experience, stage experience and talent experience,” said Wismer. “You really learn about yourself when you do the interviews. Having to explain your thoughts and beliefs and ideas to another person really helps you see who you are as a person.”

The second runner-up in the Miss America Pageant was Miss Washington, Elyse Umemoto, and the first runner-up was Miss Indiana, Nicole Elizabeth Rash. This year’s winner of the Miss America Pageant was Miss Michigan, Kristen Haglund. Haglund will receive a $50,000 scholarship and one year of travel for promoting.

It is often perceived that the contestants are bitter about not winning, but in reality the women have become great friends, said Wismer. “I have met so many wonderful people through the pageant.”