LETART — At one time or another, many little girls are sure to have wondered what it would be like to be crowned “Miss America.”
For Veronika Ohlinger, formerly of Letart, that simple thought may soon become a reality. Ohlinger was recently crowned Miss Montana 2011, which made her eligible to compete for Miss America 2012. The 2012 Miss America Pageant will be held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. The preliminary competition will be held from Jan. 10-12, with the final night of the competition on Jan. 14. This night will be broadcast live from 9-11 p.m. on ABC.
This is sure to be an exciting time for any who have met Ohlinger. Not only here in Mason county, but for her family and friends in Meigs County, Ohio as well.
“This is the World Series of the pageant world,” Ohlinger said.
Ohlinger’s interest in pageants began many years ago. When she was 13 years old, she competed in her first pageant, and ended up being crowned Junior Miss 4-H. She enjoyed that experience so much that a couple of years later, she competed in another pageant and was crowned Junior Miss Battle Days Princess. It was following this pageant that a judge approached her and told her more about the Miss America Organization. In 2005, Ohlinger competed at the state level, only hoping to make it in the top five, but instead, she was crowned Miss Teen West Virginia. She has also competed for Miss West Virginia in 2007 and 2008, where she place in the top ten, in addition to winning the non-finalist interview award and the talent award.
Following her graduation from Wahama High School in 2006, Ohlinger completed her Public Relations degree at West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2009. Ohlinger then relocated to Cooke City, Montana, along with her parents. She also participated in several television internships across the country. She then competed for, and was crowned Miss Montana 2011.
“To me, being Miss Montana is about being a role model, a volunteer and an inspiration,” Ohlinger said. “I have a strong desire to help others and I want to share my message by promoting my platform and encouraging people to follow their dreams and find confidence in the journey of believing in themselves. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I will utilize it to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Even though the Miss America Pageant is such a huge event, Ohlinger reported that the preparations are still fairly the same as any pageant. A contestant must be physically prepared for the swimsuit aspect of the competition, in addition to the sheer exhaustion that may come with the competition, which lasts for a week and a half.
“Mentally, you have to remain focused and believe in yourself to be able to perform at the best of your abilities,” Ohlinger said.
According to The Miss America website, each contestant must select a platform issue that she cares deeply about, and that is relevant to the country. Ohlinger’s platform is Inspiring America: Dare to Dream. This platform is geared toward enabling the dreams of others by inspiring them to believe and achieve. This platform is very close to Ohlinger’s heart, as she reported she has been very fortunate to have very supportive friends and family. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky.
“I want to inspire and encourage young and old alike to ‘Dare to Dream’ and use their talents and passions to make a difference in their own lives,” Ohlinger said.
Following the Miss America Pageant, and the crowning of the next Miss Montana, Ohlinger plans to pursue a master’s degree, with a focus on Sports and Entertainment Broadcasting. She then hopes to become a television host or sports anchor, in addition to establishing her own non-profit organization, Inspiring America, Inc. Ohlinger is very grateful for all of the support she has received from her hometown during her journey to become Miss America 2012.
For additional information about Miss America 2012, visit www.missamerica.org. One can also cast a vote for Ohlinger to be the People’s Choice at Miss America. Voting ends on Jan. 12.