One unique thing about The Miss America Organization is the fact that it seems to make the “it’s a small world,” phrase even more relevant. The more involved you get, the more connections you realize you have with other titleholders, people in the community, and volunteers. This titleholder not only is from my hometown and went to the same high school as I did, but she now lives in La Crosse and attends UW-La Crosse (small world, right?). Maddie Kumm is a talented dancer and a dynamic young woman who I had the pleasure of sharing my Miss Wisconsin 2015 experience with and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her!
Name: Madeline Kumm
Birthday: February 23, 1996
Hometown: Port Edwards, WI
Education: Current sophomore at UW-La Crosse
Dream job: Reporter for E! News
Favorite color: Gray 1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? I grew up attending the Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area pageant, so it seemed like a rite of passage for me to compete as well! I knew many girls from my dance studio who won or competed, along with many good friends! I also wanted to be able to showcase my love for dance and the stage.
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. My first MAO pageant was the Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area pageant in 2013. I was 17 years old and didn’t really know what I was doing! I was honored to place first runner-up my first time! I knew I wanted to compete again my freshman year of college when I could focus and have more time to devote to the pageant and MAO in general.
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform is currently Addressing Sexual Assault Culture. I previously spoke for other platforms, but my current one really hit home. I didn’t realize until I took a media literacy course here at UWL that as a society, we normalize sexual violence against women and pass it off as “pop culture.” By not talking about it, we are supporting and condoning sexual assault to happen.
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? My favorite phase of competition is talent. I danced under a studio for 15 years and traveled to New York City to pursue a dream of mine—to meet and perform alongside Rockette-trained dancers. Conveying an emotion or story that cannot be done through words is something truly special. Dance is an underappreciated art form and I strive to be the best every time I perform.
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? I don’t think you can have one without the other. I think Service with Style is very important because it’s important as a titleholder to be unique and bring something to the table that someone hasn’t done yet. Being original in ideas and standing out while helping someone is what makes a titleholder an individual. Scholarship is integral because we compete for scholarship dollars. I cannot count how many times I have to explain to people that the MAO is a SCHOLARSHIP pageant, not a modeling one. Success comes naturally if you have the courage to compete in any MAO pageant—the pageant sets you up for it!
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them?
Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area 2015
- Participating and raising $1,400 for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge
- Teaching dance classes at the Wisconsin Rapids Boys & Girls Club
- Having my sister and Grandma drive me in the Independence Day Parade in Pittsville, WI
- Miss Wisconsin Week (of course!) and finishing in the Top 10
- Traveling to La Crosse for Family Fest in March
- Meeting two of my now best friends, Zoe and April through MAO
- Achieving friendships with my local pageant directors that will last forever
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent was a Contemporary Pointe routine to the song “Black and Yellow” by Josh Vietti. I enjoyed performing it because I was at my second home—the stage! I was in LOVE with my talent costume (Shout-out to Katie Williams-Tomsyck!) because it was so different than anything I had worn before, or anything at Miss Wisconsin! It was also fun to see people’s reactions when I told them my talent song, since it was formerly a Wiz Khalifa rap!
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? I have a couple! The first Miss Wisconsin I met was Paula Mae Kuiper, so I was pretty star struck! I admire her fun personality and ability to make any situation an exciting, upbeat one. I love the way that Raeanna Johnson can stand up and speak confidently and fluidly in any setting. Katie Williams Tomsyck always has the best advice and is so passionate about the MAO. She did everything in her power to help me last year. 9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a very healthy eater. I love McDonald’s! Olive Garden is my go-to now that I am here in La Crosse. Frozen pizzas are a given, along with Kit Kat bars!
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? I love Kira Kazantsev because she was so fashion-forward. I love dressing modern and pushing the envelope sometimes! She also was a very avid social media user, so I found that extremely important! I loved the Put the Nail In It campaign she did as well.
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? I was speechless. Everything that I had worked for finally paid off. The road to a crown is sometimes a difficult one, especially when you are young because you’re trying to figure out who you are along the way. Tough journeys bring out the real us, and show us what we are made of. Only through hard work can you hope to achieve success! I didn’t know what my year had in store for me, but I felt ready to find out!
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? The phrase “beauty queen” makes me cringe. Even if you Google a Miss America, the description says “beauty queen.” Ugh! Not only by competing do you earn money for furthering education, but you get opportunities to serve and promote an issue that affects everyone! A pageant gives you the tools and confidence to connect with others that maybe you didn’t have the power to before! Being kind to others and making good choices says a lot compared to most of the people we are deeming “role models” now days. We make too many judgements based on preconceived ideas—simply being more open to others and their opinions could solve this issue and many more!
13. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? My favorite moment during my year was during Miss Wisconsin Week. After my interview and both preliminary nights, I remember running into my director Joanne’s open embrace. She had tears in her eyes and said she was proud of me. I don’t know if there is a better feeling than that. Directors put in so much time and effort to make sure that their titleholder has a great experience during their year. I’m still so thankful.
14. How has your involvement influenced your life? The better question is, how hasn’t it? Because of the MAO, I’m living with two other titleholders next year, who also happen to be my best friends. I’ve met so many people and gained experiences that I couldn’t have had doing anything else. I’m excited to continue competing in the fall and grow even more through the organization.
15. What is a hidden talent of yours? Does eating an entire frozen pizza in one sitting count?
16. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Laugh, make friends, and enjoy the ride. Dictate your future and prepare, but have fun. People want REAL, not flawless. Relate to those around you and accept critiques gratefully. Never settle and always remember where you came from. Make sure you’re the person that your 10-year-old younger self would be proud of. Acknowledge the people who got you to be where you are. Be YOU, don’t copy what works for others. Last but not least, remember everything happens for a reason. If it doesn’t happen, something better will come along.