After receiving a postcard when she was 9 years old, Alyssa Laansma wanted to compete in the National American Miss (NAM) pageant so she could win a trip to Florida. Although she didn’t win, she stuck with the world’s largest pageant series for 10 years and eventually won the title of Miss Minnesota.
Although Laansma first found success in the pageant competition this past year, she says she kept coming back in previous years because of all she was learning. “I learned confidence, eye contact, interviewing and many other skills I would need to get through life,” she says.
At first glance NAM might sound like a stereotypical beauty pageant, but this pageant doesn’t have a physical beauty component (sans swimsuit or ball gown competitions). Instead the young women are judged on their academic achievements, community involvement and interview skills, or more broadly, their inner beauty. For Miss Minnesota 2011 this was important, saying, “I don’t believe we should look up to those who are only beautiful on the outside. We should look up to people because of their community involvement.”
Laansma is currently studying vocal performance at Northwestern College and hopes to become a music therapist for special needs kids. She also hopes to continue her involvement with NAM and become a staff member or judge.