“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
It’s a saying we’ve all probably uttered to ourselves before or told someone else, but for this Sisterhood Spotlight, that saying runs a little deeper than a form of verbal expression. I had the opportunity of first meeting Tara when I was Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest 2012 and she was Miss Southern Wisconsin 2013, during our time in Oshkosh for Miss Wisconsin. We’ve experienced our journeys throughout the Miss America Organization with one another and I’ve witnessed her perseverance, passion, and dedication to this incredible scholarship program time and time again. Not only were we able to room together during Miss Wisconsin 2014 week, but we’ve had the chance to foster a friendship through our interactions, experiences, and love for the Wisconsin Badgers. I can truthfully say that I am extremely proud of the trials and tribulations she has endured and overcome in order to reach her goals and the continuous drive she holds deep in her heart for not giving up on her dreams. Love you pretty lady! XO
Name: Tara Pizer
Hometown: Richland Center, WI
Education: UW- Madison Alumni with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Saint Mary’s Master of Arts in Health Care Administration
Dream job: Administrator of a Skilled Nursing Facility
Favorite color: Aqua
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? My grandma! When I was little, she wanted me to be the next Shirley Temple. Grandma enrolled me in my first dance class and even premed my hair so I would look like Shirley. My Grandma always wanted me to be involved in the community and music, which I believe set the foundation for me to get involved in the Miss America Organization.
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. I was Miss Coulee Region’s Outstanding Teen when I was seventeen years old and as a “Miss” I competed for Miss Madison Capital- City when I was eighteen years-old. I had no idea what I was doing! I remember for the closing at the end of the interview I just stood there and said “Thank you” and walked out not know what a closing was.
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform is Giving a Meaning to Every Tomorrow- Cystic Fibrosis Awareness. My mom suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, which is the number one genetic killer disease in the world. There is no cure for CF and the average lifespan is 37 years old.
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? It sounds silly, but I love lifestyle and fitness. Before I won my first local title, I was overweight. My eating habits were awful and included multiple bottles of Diet Mountain Dew a day. After I won, I knew I needed to change my lifestyle if I wanted to do well at state, so I worked extremely hard and lost 35 pounds. I have been able to keep the weight off for three years and am extremely proud of how I look because I have to continually be aware of what I am putting in my body and how I exercise. Although most people dread this area of competition, I love it because it has changed my life.
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? Service. There is nothing more rewarding than giving back.
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them? Never in a million years did I think I would go to Miss Wisconsin. I competed twelve times before I won my first local title. I have a silly name for each year.
- Miss Southern Lakes 2013: The Underdog! This was the year my life changed. I learned who I was as a person and I learned how to push myself beyond my comfort zone. No one expected me to do well at state because it had taken me twelve attempts to get a title and I had placed first runner up at 4 other local pageants that year. I surprised everyone when I made top 11 at Miss Wisconsin, and I will always be proud of the amount of time and dedication I put in as Miss Southern Lakes.
- Miss Belle City 2014: The Big Noise! As Miss Belle City, I learned how to let go and be myself in every area of competition, as well as at volunteer events.
- Miss Coulee Region 2015: Full Circle! I was finally able to represent my hometown as well as hold the “Miss” title to the teen title I held in high school. I learned how much support I have. I was shocked at the amount of directors, board members, and other contestants who reached out to help me. I will forever be grateful.
- Miss Wisconsin Central 2016: ONE SHOT! I am aging out this year, so I am giving it my all and I am going to leave this year with no regrets.
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? Tap dancing. Tapping allows me to express this sassy side of my personality that most people don’t get to see when they are talking to me.
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? My first director, Caitlin Machol. I don’t know where I would be without her and her amazing family. She was extremely successful in the Miss America Organization when she competed as well as holding the title of Miss Wisconsin USA 2007. I will always value her, her time, and her opinions. Since I don’t have any siblings, I consider her my big sister.
9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? POPCORN! However, I still eat popcorn in competition mode. My mom and I always have a pot of air popped popcorn on Sunday nights when I am home. It is a long-standing tradition.
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? Mallory Hagan. Maybe it is the fellow tapper in me, but if I were to pick a Miss America I relate with the best, it would have to be her. I love her enthusiasm and openness about who she is and what she stands for.
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? Complete shock. Maybe it is because I have been the first runner up seven times, but I always hear my name in my head when the first runner up is being called, so when I am called as the winner, I fall to the floor.
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 usually get a bit sassy and tell them pageants in the Miss America Organization are not based on beauty and follow up with informing them on what the portions of competition are, my accomplishments in the organization thus far, and what I have gained from being involved.
13. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? I was volunteering a CMN fundraiser at the Children’s hospital in Milwaukee and I saw a young boy and his mother leaving the building wearing Cystic Fibrosis shirts. Usually I wouldn’t chase after someone trying to leave the hospital, but something pushed me to run after them. I stopped them to ask if one of them had CF (the young boy) and I informed them about my mom. The boy’s mother started crying and said thank you to me for giving her hope that her son could grow up and live a fulfilling life similar to my mother’s.
14. How has your involvement influenced your life? Words can’t justify what my involvement in this organization has done for me. To name a few, it has pushed me to be a better person, to stand up for what I believe in, and to achieve academic goals I never thought were possible.
15. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Never give up. I am the prime example of perseverance in this organization. Most girls would just give up, but because I continued to believe, I have been successful in this organization. All of the tears and sleepless hours are more than worth the benefits this organization provides. Even if the goal isn’t in the Miss America Organization, never give up on your dreams. “Can’t never did a thing”.
16. As a woman who has aged out of competing, reflecting back, how would you sum up your experience using only one word? Unbelievable