This November, Winona native Kristin Dight will compete in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant. It will mark the first time that Dight, who is 19 but will be turning 20 on July 14, will compete in a pageant, let alone one of the biggest pageants in the country. “I’m nervous,” she admitted before joking, “but why not jump into the biggest [pageant] in the state?”
. Winona’s Kristin Dight will be competing for the title of Miss Minnesota USA this November.
Miss Minnesota USA is part of the Miss Universe Organization, which is jointly owned by Donald Trump. Unlike the Miss America pageant, which is a separate competition, contestants for Miss USA do not have to compete at the local level before moving on. “I researched Miss Minnesota and Miss USA, and I filled out a questionnaire and brief bio on their website,” Dight said of her Miss Minnesota USA application process. “I got a call two weeks later [telling me I had been selected]. I was not expecting it because so few get to compete, because it is such a national event, so I am super happy I got accepted.”
According to Dight, 20 to 50 women from across Minnesota compete for the title of Miss Minnesota USA and about $1 million in scholarships. “[Compared to Miss Minnesota, the Miss Minnesota USA competition] is more of a beauty pageant,” explained Dight, who graduated from Winona Senior High School in 2013. “[But the winner of Miss Minnesota USA] does advocacy on behalf of the community and the state. The winner will speak on HIV/AIDS, breast and ovarian cancer.”
So as “to not look like a deer in the headlights” when she competes in a pageant for the first time, Dight said she is currently doing all that she can to prepare, which means practicing everything from how she should stand in front of the audience to impressing the judges with a great interview. The pageant consists of a personal interview with the judges, an interview/question-and-answer session on stage, formalwear and swimsuit categories. Unlike Miss America, there is no talent component, which comes as a bit of a relief to Dight. “No, [there is no talent portion], thank God,” she quipped. “But I could sing if I had to.”
For the rest of her practice, Dight has been watching a lot of Miss USA and Miss Minnesota USA videos to study how the pageant itself works and to pick up some ideas from successful pageant contestants. “Since I’ve never been in the pageant industry before, I would say I have a lot to learn in the next few months, but I am willing to work hard,” she said. “Right now I don’t know how to stand or tape my bikini to my body, but I really want to go into this to win it and for the overall experience. [I’m studying] portions of other pageant winners and what qualities made them winners, such as how they speak, present themselves and the [overall] stage presence they bring.”
Along with her research and practice Dight also has to fundraise around $1,000 to compete, which is collected through three deadlines, one of which she has already met. “I still have two more deadlines to go, so I have been emailing and talking to businesses on the phone,” she explained. “Any business that would like to be part of my experience will be listed in the pageant book and on the pageant website.”
The next four months will be busy for Dight with her pageant preparation and her current job working at a group home for people with developmental disabilities. “I told my supervisor and some of my coworkers, and they are so excited for me,” said Dight, who is currently taking health care career pre-requisites at Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical. “Their support has been great, and my parents [Steve and Teresa Dight] have always been supportive of whatever I’ve wanted to do.”
For now, Dight, who was certified as a nursing assistant in May, will continue prepping for the Miss Minnesota USA pageant while also working towards a future in health care. “I love adventures,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m excited.”
If you would like to contribute to Kristin’s Miss Minnesota campaign, visit www.GoFundMe.com/KristinforMissMinnesota for more information.