EAGLE – An interest in the world of pageants led an Eagle teen to the title of Miss Nebraska Collegiate and a chance at a national crown.
Tessa Johnson received the title on Dec. 19. She will compete with college students from across the nation July 31 to Aug. 2 in Florida for the Miss National Collegiate title.
The 19-year-old said she recently decided she wanted to learn more about pageants and did some research. She found the website pageantplanet.com, which is geared towards people who are new to pageants. According to pageantplanet.com’s Facebook page, they connect girls with pageants that match their strengths and with coaches to help train them.
Pageantplanet.com representatives connected Johnson with Miss Nebraska Collegiate pageant officials. After applying online, Johnson went through multiple phone interviews over a two-week period. Based on her academic record, extracurricular activities and volunteerism, she was selected as Miss Collegiate Nebraska.
A curiosity about pageants is what led Johnson to contact the website.
“I wanted to figure out what it was all about,” Johnson said.
She anticipates that her experience with pageants will give her more confidence and make her a stronger person.
“I hope it makes me become more independent,” she added.
Johnson is also looking forward to the volunteer opportunities the pageant will bring. She has to create a social platform for the national competition, and she has chosen the homeless as her focus.
“I’m making a project that is pointed to helping the homeless,” she said.
Although she is still working out the details, Johnson plans to work with the Lincoln City Mission to determine a list of items needed by the homeless population served there. Then she will create a drive in her local area to gather these items.
The plight of the homeless was brought to Johnson’s attention when she saw television commercials about the subject. They inspired her to be a person who didn’t just watch the commercials, but took action.
“I wanted to take the extra step to actually get people involved,” she said.
Johnson has a passion to help others. She is a first-year student at Bryan College of Health Sciences, where she is studying nursing.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field,” she said.
Juggling a pageant with being a full-time college student may sound challenging, but Johnson is used to being busy. She was an active student at Waverly Public Schools. She played flute and piccolo in the band for eight years. She was the high school band’s drum major as a junior and senior.
Johnson was also active in sports, playing volleyball her freshman and sophomore years until an injury forced her to switch to golf for the last two years of high school. The also played basketball and soccer all four years at WHS.
A well-rounded student, Johnson was involved in FFA during her four years of high school as well. She was also elected queen during her school’s homecoming celebration and was chosen as Snowball queen, both during her senior year.
As an Eagle resident, Johnson and her family were avid fans of the local dirt track.
“I grew up going to Eagle Raceway,” she said.
Her father raced there, and her brother is now a competitor on the go-kart track. She also has cousins and friends who have raced around the oval.
“I love it there,” she said.
She competed for the title of Miss Eagle Raceway last summer, finishing as first runner up. It wasn’t a true pageant atmosphere, however. The girls vying for the crown didn’t walk around in sequined gowns or compete in talent contests.
Instead, they greeted fans, took pictures with the competitors after the races and helped with children’s activities at the track, like the bicycle giveaway, color run and money dash.
Johnson said she enjoyed the Miss Eagle competition so much she plans to try again for the title in 2020.
But for now, her focus is on the Miss National Collegiate pageant. She is looking for a pageant coach to provide guidance and searching for the right pageant gown.
And she’s still debating what she will do in the talent competition. She is deciding between singing or playing a musical instrument.
The talent portion of the Miss National Collegiate pageant is not mandatory, Johnson said. Neither is public speaking. There are other parts of the pageant that are required, like the evening gown competition and the interview portion, she added.
Johnson is looking forward to meeting the other competitors from the rest of the country and learning how the pageant experience can broaden her horizons.
“I’m excited about trying something new,” she added.