Up next on the Sisterhood Spotlight is Tori Bogren. I first met Tori when I was Miss Seven Rivers 2014 and she was Miss Kenosha, if you haven’t seen this lady twirl baton before, you’re missing out! As someone who can’t even spin a baton around her fingers, she absolutely blows me away every time she performs. Tori went on to hold a second title, Miss Fox River Valley and performed beautifully on the Miss Wisconsin stage in 2015, read more to see what she’s up to now!
Name: Tori Bogren
Hometown: Glen Ellyn, IL/ Now I live in Kenosha
Education: Bachelor of the Arts from Carthage College
Dream job: 1st grade teacher
Favorite color: turquoise
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? I had friends in the MAO system and I loved what I saw. I saw them advocating for great causes as well as interacting with their community .People had the opportunity to see what they were passionate about within their platform and they were able to spread their message. You can’t ask for much for than that!
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. My first MAO pageant was Miss Kenosha 2014. Ashley Sturdevant came and talked to the Carthage dance team about it and I said why not?! I went to the informational meeting and fell in love with the organization even more. That year, 17 girls competed which was an intimidating number of contestants for a newbie. I went out there and did my absolute best and I won! Joya, my director, was a huge inspiration during the process and I still owe her more than she knows!
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform was “Tori’s Stories: promoting literacy for people of all ages” I chose this as my platform because as an educator I see struggling readers everyday. I have been in their shoes and know what it is like for something to not ” click” right away. I talk about the importance of school as I was a college student ready to give up on my dream of becoming a 1st grade teacher. I told my parents that college wasn’t for me and that I needed to find a different path. If it wasn’t for them enforcing the importance of education and literacy I would not be typing these answers while my first grade class was in gym! 🙂
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? I love every phase because each one brings out a different personality, but I especially love talent. I have twirled since I was 3 years old and have had the opportunity to travel around the world competing. After twirling at the University of Tennessee for a semester, before transferring to Carthage, I thought my twirling days were over. MAO re-lit that twirling flame in me and I am go grateful that I was able to share my love of twirling with the audience.
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? It is impossible for me to choose! I don’t think you can have one without the other three!
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them?
- Miss Kenosha 2014
- Winning my first pageant
- Working with an unbelievable team in Kenosha that supported you and were like a second family
- Making top 5 at Miss Wisconsin
- Being the first local title holder to create a girl scout literacy patch that they can earn and add to their vests.
- Miss Fox River Valley 2015
- Participated in the first ever Miss America Serves Day
- Talking to elementary schools about the importance of school and literacy
- Making top 10 at Miss Wisconsin.
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent was baton twirling and my favorite performance was my cha cha routine. I had lot of help that went into the choreography that I will be forever grateful for. I enjoyed that routine the most because I am a smooth and flowy twirler and to flip into a fast, upbeat, cha cha routine was out of my comfort zone at first, but I absolutely loved to get into that character and loved the adrenaline rush that it gave me.
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? Joya Santarelli. She is without a doubt a huge factor as to why I love the Program as much as I do. She is exactly what the MAO stands for. She pushed me to my limits to prove to myself that I could do it. She believed in my 100% of the time and never gave up on me. She welcomed me into her family and my family in Kenosha grew. She gave up so much of her time to help me prep for Miss Wisconsin. Whether is was panels of people for mock interviews, traveling to random places for dresses to try on, or grocery shopping for me because I was too stressed out about eating no carbs, she had my back and comforted me. I, still to this day, can not thank her enough for her continue friendship and support in everything I do. We continue to be great friends and I even get to see her on a weekly basis! I owe her more than she knows, and because of her influence, I grew up.
9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Taco dip and Barq’s Root Beer! Those are my two favorite things and definitely don’t fit into the pre- Miss Wisconsin diet!
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? I love last years Miss America, Kira. She was the Miss America when I got involved with MAO and I followed her journey. I admire the work she did and the personality that she added to each appearance. You could tell that she was real and genuine. She was definitely a great role model and influence on me as I started my own journey in the Miss America Organization.
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? When I won Miss Kenosha a flood of emotions filled me. All of my family and friends were there cheering me on and I will never forget the crowd roaring when my name was called. I didn’t know whether to smile, cry, wave, or jump! I just remember thinking, “all the hard work paid off!” When I saw my parents they told me they could not have been prouder and little did we know, that was the start of a new chapter in our lives.
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 would tell them that there are ambassadors in their community that are spreading meaningful and personal messages. Role models are advocating for great causes and are people that the community can look up to. We are not JUST beauty queens, we are deeper than just looks.
13. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? When I was Miss Kenosha, I was student teaching in college at the same time. It was a very hectic time in my life to be teaching all day followed for two or three appearances a night. However, on my last day of student teaching, I saw an autistic boy in my class hold his pencil and write his name for the first time in his life. I left that day with tears in my eyes and a drive like I have never had before. I knew that this Organization allowed for me to help children and spread my platform.
14. How has your involvement influenced your life? Throughout my time in MAO, I have gained so much. When I started, I was a shy college student who was not comfortable walking into a room of people that I did not know. MAO has pulled out the social side of me and has helped me gain so much confidence. Doing things in my community lead me to be not only a familiar face in the community but I will forever be thankful for the life skills that it brought me. There is no way that I would be sitting here as a first grade teacher today without the conversational skills and confidence that MAO taught me. I walked into every interview knowing that I had done this before and to just be myself.
15. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? The advice I would give is to be yourself. Everytime I competed I never strayed away from who I was. Stay open minded- be open to peoples ideas and advice, you never know who is going to tell you something that is going to stick with you forever. If you stay open minded you might surprise yourself and learn something new about yourself!