Flashback a few years and you may remember seeing Mariah Haberman grace the stage at Miss Wisconsin in Oshkosh as Miss Wisconsin Central 2012. You also may wonder, what is she up to now? She has a pretty awesome job highlighting fun, beautiful amenities in Wisconsin; read more to find out!
Name: Mariah Haberman
Birthday: January 13, 1988
Hometown: Evansville, Wisconsin
Education: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (Major: Journalism | Minor: Spanish)
Dream job/Current job: I am the brand manager and one of the hosts of the TV show, Discover Wisconsin. As for a dream job, I have it pretty darn good right now! Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to have landed this gig but I have a lot of goals left to work toward, such as owning my own company and leading my own team(s) someday.
Favorite color: Black
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? I was just intrigued by the whole thing. I grew up always feeling like I was a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. The women I saw on stage seemed to be so great at a lot of things: They were smart, talented, well-spoken and full of charisma—what’s not to love about that?!
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. Miss Oshkosh 2010 was my very first pageant. I was petrified. Thank goodness that crew does a marvelous job of preparing its contestants. Even so, I recall pacing backstage the night of the show right before I was to go on to perform my talent. I even remember seriously considering giving the director some sort of excuse as to why I couldn’t perform my talent. I was that scared and to be honest, I am not sure I have experienced nerves to that degree since! I told myself at that time that the anxiety wasn’t worth it—this would be my first and last pageant. (Plot twist: I entered seven more.)
3. What was your platform and why did you choose it? I chose my platform, “A Shot of Reality: Alcohol Addiction,” because I grew up in a family wherein alcoholism was very present. I also felt it was a fitting platform given the staggering statistics the state of Wisconsin faces in terms of alcoholism, drinking and driving and binge drinking.
4. What was your favorite phase of competition, why? I felt most powerful during interview. It’s your chance to show those judges your substance: who you are, what you believe in and why you’re the girl for the job.
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? I think service has the biggest impact on both young women who compete and those they encounter throughout their journey. I also love that one can be influential through service without actually winning a title.
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments during each of them? I held one title—Miss Wisconsin Central—but my biggest accomplishment didn’t occur from winning it or making it to Miss Wisconsin I don’t think. When I look back, I am most proud of the grit and self-belief I developed along the way. I so enjoy seeing those traits in contestants today. The ones who give their all and yet, still hear “Nope, you’re not the one tonight” from five distinguished adults is heartbreaking. Rejection sucks. But to hear “no” over and over again and still possess the passion and persistence to keep going is a pretty impressive accomplishment.
7. What was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent was jazz/funk dance. I loved that it was different. You don’t see jazz/funk dancers on pageant stages. So many people told me to choose something “the judges look for” but I think (or hope!) what the judges look for over a traditional talent is authenticity. That’s what I loved most about my talent: It was authentically me.
8. Who is/was your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? My gosh, there are so many! Desiree Geffers was the very first local titleholder I watched get crowned. When I met her, I remember being struck by how genuine and kind she was. Speaking of kindness, despite competing with her my first time around, Shana Pawlowicz still managed to answer every annoying question I had about pageantry. There is no way I would have been her first runner-up had it not been for her guidance. I have a Miss Wis bias for my own class of ’12 sister, Kate (Gorman) Sweasy. She’s a class act! So are Katie (Williams) Tomsyck, Miranda (Rosenthal) Schmidt, Maggie (Hill) Richmond …and the list goes on! Oh, and Susan Fochs! The dedication she has demonstrated for her platform is just outstanding.
9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Cheese curds!
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? Miss America 2009 Katie Stam. Doesn’t she just have that “it factor?” There’s just something very magnetic about her. Could be the fact she’s a fellow 4-H kid.
11. 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? Shock! Relief! Overwhelming gratitude! And also: “Darn it, I should have invited more people!” 😉 It’s one of those weird things where you feel a lot of things without feeling anything at all, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
12. If someone says, “You’re a beauty queen, what’s the relevancy of a pageant in today’s society,” what would you say to them? I really don’t know whether crowns and sashes will hold their relevancy forever. But what I do know is that what young women take away from their involvement in the Miss America Organization, or any pageant organization for that matter – things like community involvement, public speaking skills, hard work, confidence, scholarships, etc. – I hope never go out of style! There are just not many (if any) organizations out there that do what MAO does. It’s a shame society has been tricked into thinking what they see on TV once a year is representative of the impact MAO really has on its contestants, volunteers, etc.
13. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? There are so many “little moments” I hold on to. I loved all the funny questions little kids had (“Are you friends with Kate (Middleton)? Do you live in a castle?”) But I also loved all the serious conversations I had with people who attended my presentations about alcoholism. They made my year of service extra meaningful. I also loved visiting the Children’s Hospital during Miss Wisconsin Week. I still have a little ceramic angel hanging from my car mirror that one of the patients made for all of us contestants.
14. How has your involvement influenced your life? It instilled fearlessness in me. It showed me how important it is to “go for it” in life. It proved to me I had what it took to achieve a goal I had set out for. Plus, there were a thousand perks along the way like new friends, new skills and shiny headwear.
15. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Do it! Don’t obsess over it though (if you can help it). Do take everyone’s feedback with a grain of salt. Don’t think about this as a competition with other girls but as a competition with yourself.
16. As a woman who has aged out of competing, reflecting back, how would you sum up your experience using only one word? Unexpected
17. Does your journey within the Miss America Organization define who you are today, why or why not? It doesn’t define who I am, no, but it is most certainly an important and, I think, interesting part of my story.
Mariah Haberman’s Miss Wisconsin Central 2012 Farewell Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4pcA6K8D6Y