Many contestants, titleholders, and volunteers within the Miss America Organization will tell you that if a fifth point were to be added to the crown, it would be “Sisterhood.” This statement could not be more true in many circumstances and even more so for the friendship Molly Sullivan and I have had the opportunity to form through this program. Molly was Miss Sparta (her first title) when I was Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest 2012 (my first title), we first met the night of my crowning and quickly became close friends. She is caring, thoughtful, passionate about her community, and unapologetically herself; I am so incredibly lucky to have her love and support in my life and am thrilled to be a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding to her high school sweetheart. Moll, thank you for listening to me, encouraging me to fearlessly chase my dreams, and never failing to make me laugh! XO Name: Molly Sullivan
Birthday: September 17th
Hometown: Sparta, WI
Dream job: I’m living it! I’ve always known I wanted to be an RN, although I have entertained the idea of furthering my education and working to become a Certified Nurse Midwife.
Favorite color: Pink!
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? I became involved because wanted to serve as a representative of my hometown. I have lived in Sparta my entire life, and I thought it would be an honor to be able to represent the place I had known and loved all my life! I also thought the scholarships were an added bonus – the contestants received $300 just for running!
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. I have an interesting story for this one – my first actual MAO pageant was Miss Wisconsin 2013! The Miss Sparta Pageant had not yet actually joined MAO until the night I was crowned…it was announced onstage, minutes before my crowning moment, that we would be re-joining the system and that the new Miss Sparta that year (2012), would go on to compete at Miss Wisconsin in 2013. Therefore, my first MAO pageant was Miss Wisconsin, and it was quite a ride! I met some amazing young women and was ultimately able to achieve my dream of representing my hometown on a state-wide level. I loved it so much that I ran for another local title the next year (Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest). Although I did not win, it was yet another incredible experience! 3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform was titled, “Be a Hero, Donate Life: The Importance of Blood Donation.” I have been donating blood since I was 16 years old, and I wanted to spread the word about the impact blood donations have on sick and injured patients. My goal was to inspire others to start donating blood, and to raise awareness about the need for blood donations in our area and nationwide. I chose this platform because my great-grandfather received over two gallons of donated blood after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2003, and I wanted to give the gift of life to another family’s loved one in return. 4. What is/was your favorite phase of competition, why? My favorite phase of competition was always talent. I had been dancing all my life, and I always loved to perform. Dancing has always been a form of expression for me, and I was excited to be able to share that piece of myself with the judges and audience. 5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? This is a tough one for me. I think my answer changes every day! Currently, I would have to say success. The MAO truly did introduce skills in my life that set me up for success, and I will be forever thankful for that. Because of this organization, I have become more comfortable with public speaking, job interviews, networking, and more. I believe it helped me to become successful in my career now, and I think that holds true for all women involved in this organization!
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them? I was Miss Sparta 2012, and one of my biggest accomplishments was speaking to the students of Sparta High School about my platform. I spoke to over 750 students about the importance of donating blood – there was even news coverage for my presentation! The next day, the high school held a blood drive and shattered their record for the amount of blood donations they received! It was such an honor to be able to share something I’m passionate about with them, and even more rewarding to see their positive response. 7. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? One of my biggest role models within this program has always been Raeanna Johnson – the only Miss Wisconsin to have held the title twice! I had known Raeanna and followed her journey long before I became involved with MAO. She is one of the realest people I have met, and she has always been so helpful and kind to me. She has served as an inspiration for me ever since I met her.
8. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? I am OBSESSED with Italian food: breadsticks, spaghetti, lasagna, PIZZA, you name it. I’m even having an Italian buffet served at my wedding – no joke!
9. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? I of course love Laura Kaeppler, as she was Miss Wisconsin when she was crowned Miss America! I also got to meet her when I was Miss Sparta, which I thought was pretty dang cool. I also loved Mallory Hagan. She is so down-to-earth and completely comfortable in her own skin, which I love about her. 10. How would you describe the feelings you had when you won your first local? What goes through your mind when you are standing on stage and you hear your name called? I had competed for the title of Miss Sparta for two years before finally winning the title on my third try. Honestly, the emotions I felt in that moment are still indescribable to this day. I was so honored, humbled, and excited to serve my hometown! I cried my eyes out, but I still enjoy looking at the pure emotion displayed in my crowning photos!
11. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? I truly don’t know if I can narrow it down to just one moment. I had so many incredible experiences throughout my year as Miss Sparta, but I think my favorite ones were those in which I got to interact with kids. At every parade we were in, I loved blowing kisses to the kids waving to me from the sidewalk! I also visited many classrooms, and always enjoyed the conversations I had with the kids. Kids say the most hilarious things, so there was never a dull moment! 12. How has your involvement influenced your life? Earlier, I stated that my involvement has helped me become successful in my career, but that is not all that I have gained from the MAO. I have also gained lifelong friends in my fellow titleholders, specifically Tia! We most likely would not have met if it hadn’t been for this organization, and I honestly can’t imagine my life without her now! She’s even going to be one of my bridesmaids in my wedding this summer! She’s one of my very best friends, and I am so grateful that the MAO brought us together. 13. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? My advice would be to follow your gut and stay true to yourself. There will be many people along the way who want to help, and while it’s okay to listen to pointers and tips, remember that it’s YOU who’s competing! Always be comfortable with who you are, and showcase YOUR best self, not someone else’s idea of who you should be.
14. As a woman who has aged out of competing, reflecting back, how would you sum up your experience using only one word? Fulfilling. While I was never meant to be Miss La Crosse, Miss Wisconsin, Miss America, or any other title, I definitely feel that it was in the cards for me to serve as Miss Sparta. I didn’t give up on that goal until it was achieved, and I’m so glad that I continued to pursue it! I truly felt like I made a difference in my community, and it left me feeling so fulfilled. I have no regrets when it comes to my experiences in the Miss America Organization, and I would do it all over again if I could!