Preliminary Competition: [✓]

So how does the competition work, you ask?  

For me, competition began on Wednesday morning when my private ten minute interview with the judges took place.  It felt amazing!  Started off focused on my platform logo and weekly blog posts highlighting aspects of my platform, “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success.”  I was able to talk about President Trump and Ivanka being in Wisconsin Tuesday to talk about the workforce and blatant skills gap in our state and country and just how important it is to empower our youth in order to foster college readiness and success in their careers.  I also was able to talk about my struggles with academics in college and finding the right degree that fit with my interests and passions!  I am so at peace with how that chat went and wish (as always) I could’ve had more time to talk with them!Preliminary on stage competition began on Wednesday evening, with all twenty-six women taking the stage to compete in different areas.My group (contestants 14-26) participated in On-Stage Question and Swimsuit.  While the first group (contestants 1-13) competed in Talent and Evening Gown on Wednesday.  The energy and excitement were emanating backstage prior to the show and from the audience as soon as the curtains opened, still gives me chills!  I will admit, as soon as pre-show prayer wrapped up I had to wipe away tears as all of my emotions culminated in that moment.  Before I knew it the music cued up and the show began, leaving me little time to process things but rather embrace the adrenaline and go forth!

Picking my poison from the fish bowl…
The questions included current event topics ranging from healthcare, to Bill Crosby’s trial, to the Russian investigation.  I was asked if transgender individuals should be able to compete within The Miss America Organization.  How did I answer?  I touched on how this program promotes inclusion and opportunities and I believe I someone wants to compete, they should be able to do so.  However, currently it states in the contract a contestant must be female at birth so unless the Miss America Board chooses to change that in the future, it’s out of my indivisible control.
Thanks to The Roxy for an outstanding dinner on Monday and for sponsoring shirts!
I also competed in swimsuit on Wednesday evening, feeling oh so confident and sexy as I strutted across the stage in my blue suit from Everything But Water.  I would like to thank stadium stairs, extra protein and fresh fruit, and kale chips for my abs (ha)!  Remember, 80 percent of how you look when trying to tone up, look good, and most importantly feel good is what you eat!  Congratulations to Erin O’Brien on winning preliminary swimsuit and Gina Milliacca on winning talent Wednesday evening!Thursday, we (the contestants) got to sleep in a little bit, leaving the hotel a little before 9 a.m. to drive to Citgo and take a photo in our “Fueling Good” shirts they sponsored for the day.  If you aren’t aware, Citgo is one of the major sponsors of the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program, providing Miss Wisconsin with gas money to utilize throughout her year of service. 

After the photo, we had dress rehearsal at the auditorium to walk through the entire show in wardrobe for Thursday evening.  Following that, we were able to go to lunch with our parents and give them a tour of the backstage area.Thursday evening I competed in Talent and Evening Gown.  My dance this year is a lyrical piece to a rendition of “Lean On Me” by The Tenors, an acapella group.  I chose this piece to represent my struggles and perseverance over the course of this seven year journey I’ve been on within the Miss America Organization.  I’m extremely stubborn and have had to learn that it’s okay to lean on others when I need that extra support, rather than constantly being the one exuding compassion.  This dance is for all of you: family, friends, and people within this program that have been a part of my experience.I’ll be honest, my dance didn’t feel incredibly perfect, but I nailed my triple at the start of routine and felt as though I radiated more emotion that ever before.  I laid it all out on the floor and that’s all I could have hoped for.  Congratulations to April Haldeman for winning preliminary swimsuit and Catherine Smith for winning talent on Thursday night!Today (Friday) we have our annual Swinging for Scholarships golf outing, a laid back afternoon and then the Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen Pageant later tonight!  Best of luck to all the ladies, especially my girls Savannah, Annie, and Sarah-rock it!


Let the Good Times Roll

Let’s recap Monday and Tuesday of Miss Wisconsin week since I finally was able to connect to WiFi on my laptop.  And have a moment to type out this post for that matter, we stay very busy in Oshkosh this week as contestants!

Monday morning we arrived just after 8 a.m. at The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Recreational Center on campus, spending a few hours there initially.  During that time we worked on opening number, closing number production, evening gown walking patterns, swimsuit walking patterns, and on-stage question (phew)!  We broke for lunch and met with Shriners and veterans from the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.  We ride on the bus all week, aka “The Golden Cadillac” pictured above with “Miss Wisconsin” painted on the windows.While I was sad to not see or be able to connect with Sally Olson whom I had met last year and kept in touch with, I was delighted to meet Jim.  Miss Milwaukee Area, Haley Lynam and I were lucky to have lunch with him and learned that he served in the Korean War as a chef.  He’s traveled to countless places over the years, but loves Wisconsin.After his time in the service, he work as a chef at a hotel near Lambeau Field for 22 years, stirring up meals for visiting NFL teams when they were in town.  One day, he had a gentleman walk in and ask him to make him the best steak he could.  Any guesses as to who it was?  My man, the one and only Vince Lombardi (super jealous).We went back to UW-Oshkosh for rehearsal in the afternoon before getting ready for The Merchant’s dinner at The Waters.  This is a semi-formal dinner at a gorgeous restaurant on the water that allows us a chance to mingle with generous sponsors of the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program and meet the judges in a more informal setting prior to interviews beginning.  The weather has been horrid and humid with storms and showers on and off, but a key quality of any titleholder (especially Miss Wisconsin) is one’s ability to “roll with the punches.” Shout out to The Roxy and the waitstaff for an incredible dinner.  The food was absolutely phenomenal and the cheesecake was so delicious I enjoyed two pieces (thanks April)!Post Merchant’s I hit the gym at the hotel, running a few miles before lifting.  I wasn’t able to fall asleep the best on Sunday night due to excitement so I figured a solid sweat session would help clear my mind and boost my alertness the next day (and it did).Tuesday, my group (group two) didn’t have interview so we departed around 8:15 a.m. for the auditorium to practice walking patterns on the set and talent run throughs.  All twenty-six of us convened in the afternoon for a picnic lunch provided by the Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh followed by a group rehearsal on stage in the late afternoon.  Thank you to the Kiwanis Club for keeping us energized and ready to conquer our day, your support is sincerely appreciated!

  • Interview, Wednesday morning
  • Wednesday preliminary competition: On-Stage Question and Lifestyle and Fintess in Swimwear
  • Thursday preliminary competition: Talent and Evening Gown

#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Perseverance

And just like that I’ve arrived in Oshkosh for Miss Wisconsin week 2017.  I’m so excited and humbled to have another chance to vie for this job and cultivate memories here with the Class of 2017.Typically my “Skill Sets 4 Success” Sunday platform post covers a current event that pertains to soft skill sets, college readiness, and/or success in the workforce; however, today’s is pertaining to my journey and the success I’ve gained.  I’ve done a great deal of reflecting lately in the weeks leading up to this point.  My internships, current career, passions, and countless relationships that I cherish deeply are a direct result of the MAO.  It’s those tangible takeaways that make me forever grateful for this experience regardless of what God has in store for me on Saturday evening.  So many of the skill sets I possess have stemmed from experiences within this program: walking into a new environment and introducing myself, developing a strong sense of self, a focus on community service, the list truly goes on and on.Today, all twenty-six of the contestants arrived in Oshkosh, unpacked at the auditorium, and got settled in at the hotel before a night of closed rehearsal at the hotel.  The energy and excitement throughout the room all evening long was incredible and I cannot wait for the rest of the week to unfold (but not too quickly).  I have full faith in His plan and know that my hard work, drive, and dedication over the course of the past 7 years has resulted in so many successes; for that I am eternally grateful.  I share my failures in schools as a titleholder, my struggles in school and finding a career path that fit my interests, and the knowledge I’ve gained through the course of school and my job thus far because I believe it’s important to be transparent.  That becomes even more necessary when I’m wearing a sparkly crown and sash-I’m still human and I have an overwhelming desire to connect with others, to share my message, to inspire people, and most importantly help them achieve successes in their educational pursuits and career.  The Miss America Organization has provided me with an outlet and a larger platform to do just that.  Owning my setbacks and persevering through tough times (and multiple trips to state) has shaped me into the strong-willed, determined, and passionate woman I am.  P.S. Did you know Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000 won Miss Kentucky on her fifth attempt?  Now you know!  Remember, anything is possible if you put in the work and energy and most importantly, believe in yourself!

Be sure to “like” Miss Badgerland 2017, Tianna Vanderhei on Facebook, follow @MissBadgerland2017 on Instagram, and @MissBadgerland on Twitter to stay up to date on my week!

Want to shop this look?  I’ve linked the jumpsuit and earrings below!


Good night friends

#SkillSets4Success Sunday: Job Report

“Hire Me!”  Well, do you want the good news or the bad news?

The jobs report was unveiled on Friday, June 2 showing that the economy in the U.S. added 138,000 jobs in May; in turn falling short of the anticipated 180,000.  In the large scheme of things, this isn’t so bad as there are plenty of jobs out there.  Not to mention, wage growth is still growing a little more than 2 percent although that’s down from previous months, economists are urging people not to worry quite yet.

On a positive note, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent, that’s the lowest it’s been in 16 years!  So what does that mean and how does all of this relate to my platform?  The job market is promising, folks.  There are plenty of vacancies in our workforce and that gap continues to widen as roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers retire on a daily basis.  Also, wages are projected to increase as employers aim to fill those openings within their companies and businesses.  My mission as Miss Badgerland 2017 and potentially as Miss Wisconsin 2017 is to help empower and equip students with the mentality, drive, and soft skill sets they need to take on these jobs in the upcoming years.

“Many U.S. workers, especially those still looking for jobs, lack the necessary skills to warrant higher pay. As a result companies have to pay more to train new or future employees who won’t be as productive when the first start out.”  -MarketWatch don’t say?  A need for heightened soft skill sets?  This needs to be talked about at an earlier age.  Students need to learn the basis of communication and how crucial a first impression and career exploration can be for their future success.  Together, we can help to move Wisconsin and our country forward.


#likeaMAOwoman, Success

The Miss America Organization is a system that empowers women to fearlessly chase after their dreams.  It’s far from a “beauty pageant” and we (the women that are involved) are far from “pageant girls.”Let’s be honest…I was a lost, distraught mess before I won my first title within the MAO.  I was pushing myself down a career path I ultimately didn’t love simply because the field had promising job security and a solid salary outlook.  Fortunately, this organization showed me that I needed to surround myself with people and somehow make an impact in the community on a regular basis.  It was because of the MAO instilling in me that I can do anything I set my mind to that I changed my major from Athletic Training and Pre-Physical Therapy to broadcasting and communication.  I am proud to say I graduated with a degree in Organizational Communication Studies and Sports Broadcasting in May of 2015 from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.I aspire to someday work as a sideline reporter for ESPN.  This fall, I had the honor of covering a behind-the-scenes story on ESPN’s College GameDay in Madison before the Ohio State game (boo Buckeyes!).  With that opportunity, I also had the unique opportunity to interview host Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit.  Not to mention, I saw my idol, Samantha Ponder do her thing just feet away from me (freaked out slightly).

I’m proud and thankful to say it was the Miss America Organization and Miss Wisconsin Programs’ influence that led me to this career that I love and connected me with prominent community members three years ago; enabling me to establish my first sports broadcasting internship that opened doors for other internships and jobs.  And it’s this same organization that has instilled a sense of confidence and determination within me that will continue to lead me to success in the workforce. #likeaMAOwoman    #MarComScholarship    #MissWisconsin

Like Sunshine and Summertime

It shouldn’t come as a surprise this is yet another post about a cold shoulder top, I’m a huge fan of them.  It seems like everytime I step foot into a store lately there’s a plethora of them in a variety of colors and I’m not complaining.  I love the simplicity of this white top, paired with a neckerchief from Express (which are trending right now).  It adds a little sassiness to the class of the cotton shirt.  It’s a MUST add to your wardrobe as the summer months approach!IMG_5354 (2)This white, lightweight cotton top I was able to snag at Francesca’s for $14.  In fact, I glanced at a few times one night and had to go back for it the following day (thankfully it was still there)!  Unfortunately, I can no longer find it online or in store, but I’ve linked some similar tops below for you to check out.  Also, no surprise here…there’s very similar tops available right now at my favorite store: TJ Maxx.IMG_5369Best part of the week?  My May BootayBag arrived in the mail!IMG_5334IMG_5339Check out BootayBag here: Meet Your New Bae…IMG_5373

Here are some more cold shoulder tops (all with fabulous price tags) that you might enjoy as well:

Stay stylish my friends,


#likeaMAOwoman, Goal Digger

People who are not familiar with the Miss America Organization may be quick to categorize the women they see on stage or television.  I can tell you from my nearly seven years of experience that each and everyone of us is unique in our own way.

We come from different backgrounds, have been through various experiences, and possess different objectives as well.  We constantly set new goals to achieve: in the community, in competition realm, and in our personal lives.  This fall I made a point to sign up for hunters safety and obtain my hunting license, something I’ve wanted to do for years. I started the online coursework a few years ago, but as classes picked up and my work schedule increased I put it aside for another time.  Late this past summer of 2016, I decided I was going to finish it.  I sat down one afternoon at my parents, worked through the online coursework and scheduled my field day for a few weeks later.I was fortunate to go out opening weekend of deer season with Nick and Nikki, alumni grenadiers I met when I was Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest.  I shot my first deer (and buck) Sunday of opening weekend.  He was about 140 yards away on top of a rolling hill and I can’t tell you how shocked and ecstatic I was when I discovered I hit him.  The experience has completely captivated me and brought me a newfound love for Wisconsin’s Outdoors (which I wasn’t quite sure was possible).  I’m hooked, folks!

I went out turkey hunting a few weeks ago too with a good friend of mine since 3rd grade.  We did not get a big Tom for me, but we certainly heard them in the valleys of the scenic Coulee Region and we saw a few hens.  My favorite part?  Communicating with them and hearing all of them communicate with one another, pretty neat!  How many days until deer season…? 

#likeaMAOwoman     #MarComScholarship      #MissWisconsin