I remember meeting April at the 2014 Miss Seven Rivers pageant that was my third pageant I ever competed in. We were both young and truthfully didn’t really know what we were doing, little did we know our paths would cross again. I watched April become Miss Onalaska 20154, as I sat in the audience as Miss Seven Rivers 2014 at the time, so excited to see someone extremely deserving capture the crown. In that moment, we became “West Side Sisters” and truly the rest is history. We have attended volunteer events and appearances together as well as competing for Miss Wisconsin alongside one another and are preparing to do the same this year in June.
Initially, April seemed so quiet and reserved, but the more I got to know her I realized that was far from true. The more each of us grew as a person (thanks to the Miss Ameeica Organization) I got to know the spunky, passionate, determined, and hard-working woman I call a sister of mine. Name: April Haldeman
Hometown: West Salem, WI
Education: Radiation Therapy major with a minor in Biology at The University of Wisconsin La Crosse
Dream job: Medical dosimetrist
Favorite color: Green
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? After seeing local titleholders and the difference they were able to make my community, I had been dreaming of competing since I was in sixth grade. The first pageant I ever attended was Miss Onalaska 2013 when Madeline Anderson was crowned. I remember seeing the talent, intelligence, and drive of all the women competing and left knowing that I wanted to be on that stage someday. Plus, I saw Miranda Schmitt preform her infamous talent routine to “I Don’t Care” and the musical theater geek in me swooned!
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. I competed for Miss Seven Rivers 2014 when I was 17 years old and I had no clue what I was doing! To my surprise, I ended up tying with two other women for the top score in the lifestyle and fitness competition and walked away with new friendships, role models, and mentors within the MAO. At the end of the night, one of the judges told me that she expected to see me on the Miss Wisconsin stage someday. Hearing those words really lit a fire in my belly and gave me the confidence boost that I needed to keep competing.
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform, Ready in a Beat, is about the importance of CPR certification and the availability of AEDs. After becoming CPR and AED certified at 15 years old, I felt an intense sense of security knowing if a cardiac emergency were to occur, I would be ready to act in a beat and potentially saved a life. I have dedicated my time in the MAO to helping others feel this same confidence by talking to people of all ages about the importance of CPR, how to use an AED, and what steps they can take during a medical emergency.
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? Interview has slowly become my favorite part of competing because I have 10 minutes of one on one time with the judges free of distractions. Using this time to be completely vulnerable and open with the judges can by scary at first, but it shows them not only who you are as a person but what type of titleholder you will be. I walked into my Miss River City interview very calm because I knew as long as I stayed true to myself I could leave the competition happy weather I one the crown or not!
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? Service! For me, holding a title has always been about having an opportunity to give back to my community both threw my own personal platform and the Miss America Organization’s national platform, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. As a full time student who is also working part time, it can be very easy to get caught up in my busy schedule. Serving my community through the MAO allows me to take a step back and give to others rather than focusing on my wants and needs.
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them?
Miss Onalaska 2014
- CMNH loggers game – August 2014 and August 2015
- Onalaska American Legion Community Days
- 2015 Family Fest
- 2015 Miss America Serves Day
- Becoming a pancake-flipping pro at the Onalaska Rotary Pancake Breakfast!
- Holding three separate fundraisers for the Onalaska Police Departments AED fund.
- Visiting schools around the community and teaching kids of all ages the three C’s of what to do during a medical emergency.
- CMNH golf outing
- Miss Wisconsin 2015 with all of my MAO sisters!
- Watching my then teen, Hannah Johnson, being called as the 4th runner up to Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen 2015.
- Crowning Miss Onalaska 2015, Emily Mihalovic.
Miss River City 2015
- Donating 89 blankets to the La Crosse Warming Shelter with the help of the 2015 Miss River City contestants
- Ugly sweater 5k
- CMNH visit
- 2016 Family Fest
- Teaching kids at West Salem Elementary School the three C’s of what to do during a medical emergency
- Attending local MAO pageants and preparing for Miss Wisconsin 2016 in June!
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? I’ve flip flopped between singing and playing the oboe the past couple years. I was a privately trained oboist for 7 years, preformed in ensembles for 9 years, competed in solo and ensemble for 6 years, and even began preforming with the UW-La Crosse wind ensemble while I was still a senior in high school. Although I have a passion for instrumentals, it’s never been something that I could just let go and have fun with which impaired my ability to show my personality on stage. I have a strong background with instrumentals, but singing was my first love. I began singing in church and when I was in third grade I became captivated with musical theater after I was a candy-cane dancer in a children’s musical version of The Nutcracker! After that I was hooked! At Miss Wisconsin in June, I will be singing one of my long time favorite show-tunes, “Everybody Says Don’t” from the musical “Anyone Can Whistle”.
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? It’s hard to name just one! Miranda Schmitt was my first director and really pushed me out of my comfort zone throughout my entire year, helping me become the woman I am today. I am eternally grateful for the love and support that she has given me. I’ve also gained Nick Shafer- Jensen, Reegan Jensen-Shafer, Kristina Smaby Schoh, and the entire crew of west side directors as incredible role models and mentors throughout my time in the MAO!9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Any type of Pasta! But preferably bow-tie or penne!
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? Mallory Hagan. She was the first Miss America whose journey I followed and she blew me away with her passion, work ethic, and unique personality. Plus she is always 100% real and honest!
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
- “Wow, yay contestant number four!”
- “Wait, I’m constant number four!”
- “Is this real life?”
- “I told myself I wouldn’t cry if I won, why am I crying so much?”
- “Oh my gosh, the sash! The crown!”
- “April stop crying so much, pull yourself together!”
- “Thank you judges! You guys are the best!”
- “Hannah! We’re sisters now! I’ve always wanted a little sister!”
- “This is a dream come true. I can’t wait to begin my journey.”
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? When I was 17 years old, someone close to me looked me in the eyes and said ”You’ll never win a pageant. You’re just not pretty enough.” I was crushed for a few seconds, but pulled myself up by my bootstraps and was determined to show them that the MAO has absolutely nothing to do with standard forms of beauty. To someone who is not involved in the Miss America Organization, it is easy to ignore a woman’s year of service and scholarships and assume that it is a one night competition based on external beauty. Yes, I wear a swimsuit and an evening gown on stage, but I was not chosen as Miss Onalaska 2014 or Miss River City 2015 based on the price of my gown, the shade of my lipstick, or whether or not I have abs. These two phases of competition are opportunities for young women to fully embrace themselves and be confident in who they are. That is what the judge’s look for, a girl with confidence being unapologetically herself! I am an imperfect person filled with what others might see as “flaws” and I used to let my insecurities get in my way. Competing in the Miss America Organization has helped me break through my wall of insecurities and has allowed me to be more confident in all aspects of my life. During my short time in this organization, I have already earned over $4,000 in scholarships to pursue my education, more than tripled the size of my resume, worked closely with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which lead me to my future career in oncology, and now feel comfortable and confident speaking in any type of setting whether it be a professional interview or a public speech. I dare someone to tell me that I’m just a “beauty queen”.14. How has your involvement influenced your life? How has it not influenced my life? I am still the same person that I was at the beginning of this journey; the difference is, I’m no longer afraid of showing true self for fear of judgment. I also gained two killer best friends and future roommates, Maddie Kumm and Zoe Roou 😉
15. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? You are enough, so just have fun. This is an incredibly unique journey. Don’t take a single competition, appearance, volunteering opportunity, or friendship for granted. And certainly don’t waste your precious time trying to be like someone else in order to be successful.