The Miss America Organization and Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program are much more than pageants, they’re networking systems, confidence boosters, and an avenue to form community partnerships. This Sisterhood Spotlight feature is meant to dig a little deeper into the lives, passions, and accomplishments of the well-rounded, driven women the MAO fosters. Alyssa is a prime example of the women that are involved in the program. She possesses a deep desire to make a difference in the lives’ of others while sharing a message to a larger audience that she is personally connected to. I had the pleasure of getting to know Alyssa when I was Miss Madison-Capital City and she was Miss Racine. I can tell you that she stays true to who she is, will surely make you laugh, and cares deeply about everyone she meets. Meet Alyssa Bohm everyone…Name: Alyssa Bohm
Hometown: Racine, WI
Education: Senior at University of Wisconsin- Whitewater studying Special Education
Dream job: High School Principal changing the way we teach our children
Favorite color: Purple
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? When I was a senior in high school a classmate of mine who was the current Miss Racine encouraged me at an event we were volunteering at to compete. The titleholder was Paula Mae Kuiper and she said “you would be a great representative with your outgoing personality!” I thought about it and decided to give it a shot. The first year I competed for Miss Racine in 2013, I was instantly hooked! I realized how much the Miss America Organization has to offer and how much I love being on stage and promoting my platform!
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. Like I slightly mentioned before, my first experience was in 2013 competing for the title of Miss Racine. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to compete. Not knowing much about pageants or the Miss America Organization I was very grateful to have the Morrall family become so supportive in the process. From choosing my talent piece to finding an evening gown to borrow, I can’t thank the entire Miss Racine organization for their constant support my first year. Even though I did not go home with the crown I was very proud of myself for stepping out of box. I continued to work hard and prepare for the next year to compete again for Miss Racine 2014.
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform is Enhancing Opportunities for Youth with Special Needs, giving individuals with special needs the opportunities to enhance their lives through activities and involvement in their communities. My platform is inspired by my aunt Cindy who has special needs. When I was a little girl I never saw Aunt Cindy as someone who was different. Cindy is a very happy, lovable and independent. She works at Goodwill Industries, is on a bowling league, attends church every Sunday and loves Mickey Mouse more then anyone else I know! As I grew up I realized more and more that Aunt Cindy was very special and the sole reason why I am so passionate about my platform. Aunt Cindy fuels my love for those with special needs and helps me to be able relate and communicate with individuals with special needs. I want those with special needs to be able to have an equal opportunity at their dreams. I have experienced first hand how organizations like the Special Olympics, Miss Amazing Pageant, Best Buddies and the Sparkle Effect have enhanced individuals lives with special needs for the better. I can remember being an the Special Olympics Track and Field Tournament and cheering on the athletes at the end of the finish line. When the winner reached the finish line I said to him “You won the first place blue ribbon, I am so proud of you!”. He responded “I want the yellow ribbon Jimmy can have the blue, he did great!” To him it did not matter what place he finished in, it was seeing everyone in the crowd cheering him on and being able to showcase his skills he has worked so hard to master. He was a confident young man that cherished friendship, sportsmanship and dedication. That is what I want to create for every individual with special needs, the opportunity to feel invincible in being the best person they can possibly be. “The hearts I have touch will be the proof that I’ve lived.”
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? Swimsuit! I love being able to confidently strut my stuff on stage and showcase all of my hard work. Working out is a stress reliever for me, I am able to wind down and enjoy my favorite music while pushing myself further and further each time!
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? Service! “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” This is my favorite quote by my favorite basketball player Kobe Bryant. Service has changed my life and being apart of the Miss America Organization my service has only progressed. The experiences that I have had being Miss Racine 2015 and being exposed to the heart warming community of Racine has inspired me to continue my service throughout the rest of my life. One day during my year I was at a community center in Racine for “National Night Out”. The children at the center were so surprised to see Miss Racine in their neighborhood which has a high crime rate. One little girl said to me after we talked about our favorite colors and danced to Justin Bieber for an hour, “I am so glad you came today, I want to be just like you.” It brought tears to my eyes seeing all of the children so excited to just have me in their neighborhood and realizing someone cares about them. I want to inspire people everyday to become successful individuals who will make a difference. My platform is also all about service and I continue to promote, volunteer and create memories from myself and others with or without a crown on my head.
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them?
- Miss Racine 2015
- Volunteering for Miss Amazing Wisconsin (Special Needs Pageant)
- MC for Special Olympics World’s Largest Truck Convoy (raised over 10,000 dollars)
- Promoting Special Olympics “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign at Miss Wisconsin
- Appearing at “A Night To Remember Prom” (Special Needs Prom)
- Combining the Sparkle Squad Special Needs Cheer Squad and Special Olympics athletes together in one (cheering on one another)
- Meeting my best friend Desiree Andrews at The Down Syndrome Walk and giving her one of my own cheer medals
- Landing a job a Kenosha Bradford High School as a special education assistant
- Creating the UWW Special Olympics Organization
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent is tap dancing, and I danced to “It Don’t Mean A Thing” by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I LOVED my talent routine because it showed my personality. My father is a professional magician and being apart of a family that is full of magic I figured adding magic would really embrace my personality. During my talent I wave a red scarf around and then throw the scarf in the air and it magically turns into a black cane! No one expects the magic to happen which is what I love most.
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? Paula Mae Kuiper, she encouraged me to compete for Miss Racine four years ago and I can’t thank her enough for all of her encouragement throughout the years. She represented Racine, Madison and the state of Wisconsin amazingly and I truly admire her determination, compassion and grace in everything she does.
9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Tacos, Tacos, Tacos and did I mention tacos? I love Mexican cuisine and could probably never get tired of it, it definitely makes me happy!
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? Mallory Hagan, not only is she an amazing tap dancer but she also stays true to who she is on and off the stage. Following her Miss America journey, I admired her compassion for the Miss America Organization and really representing the organization in her own way which inspires so many young woman to be true to themselves every single day. Being the best “you” you can be!
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? You could say, “umm wait… did they just say Alyssa Bohm?” That is exactly what was going through my head when my name was called at the Miss Racine 2015 pageant. Like I said before it took me three times to win the title of Miss Racine. Hearing my name not be called for two years really put me into shock when my name really was called. It was amazing to finally know that all my hard work had paid off and it was finally my time! Tears of joy running down my face as Haylee Bande, Miss Racine 2014 is screaming “Alyssa it’s you they called your name, I’m so proud of you!” It was a dream come true to be able to represent my hometown of Racine, WI.
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? First explaining how the Miss America Organization is a scholarship program. The Miss America Organization offers 45 million dollars in scholarships every year and 500,000 hours of service just in the year of 2015. These statistics show that thousands of young women are making a difference in their communities. The Miss America Organization specifically provides opportunities for young women to grow and inspires young girls to want to achieve their dreams.
13. How has your involvement influenced your life? Being involved with the Miss America Organization for four years now it has helped me in my personal and professional life. I am involved with several organizations, gained many new life long friendships and have been able to make my mark. Professionally, being apart of the Miss America Organization it has helped me improve my speaking skills and networking portfolio. Without this organization I would not be as confident going into an interview, speaking in front of class or taking on leadership roles. I was able to figure out my professional career and land a job this year in the career field of my choice. Because of the experiences I have had I am a confident young woman that plans to have a successful future.
14. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Be yourself! No matter what be yourself, it may be hard seeing other girls around you who might be more experienced competing against you but you are not them, you are you! From my own experience, I have learned that being myself is all I can be and the judges will see that. At the end of the day whether or not you walk away with the crown, wearing your invisible crown everyday is just as important.