Who would have guessed that a former “milo queen” from a tiny village could become Miss Nebraska?
Allison Tietjen has been enjoying her year representing the state as Miss Nebraska after winning the award last summer in North Platte, and she looked back on what an exciting year it has been for the girl from the small town of Chester, Neb., during a stop to visit with residents at Brookdale Wayne on Friday.
Tietjen grew up in the small town of 230 that sits on the Nebraska-Kansas border a little more than an hour south of York, and considering that many of the recent winners of the Miss Nebraska competition were natives of big cities, it didn’t dawn on her right away how unusual it was for a small-town girl to win the award.
“I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until after I won,” she said. “The community was very excited for me and a lot of people were saying how neat it was that Miss Nebraska comes from a small town of 200 people. I guess it gives people hope that, no matter where you’re from, if you can dream it you can do it.”
The University of Nebraska senior majoring in family science got her pageant feet wet in the summer of 2012 when she was asked to represent the tiny south-central Thayer County community in the Milo Queen competition in Carleton, located about 28 miles north.
It was there that she met the reigning Miss Nebraska at the time, Mariah Cook, who helped Tietjen get involved in the Miss Nebraska competition.
A lot of time and effort goes into preparing to compete in the Miss Nebraska pageant, from getting in shape and keeping up on current events to practicing a talent that can be presented on stage during the annual competition in North Platte.
“Talent is a big portion of the Miss Nebraska Pageant, so I practiced my piano piece until I knew it forwards, backwards and in my sleep,” she said.
She also had to work out twice a day to be ready for the swimsuit competition, and became a news junkie by taking notes on every news story she could find.
“A lot of the questions they’ll ask are either current events or on politics, so I had a notebook and took notes on everything so that no matter what they asked me, I had an answer for it,” she said. “I’d have friends ask me questions and would give them my best answer, so I was ready to be asked anything.”
The moment when she was crowned Miss Nebraska was quite a shock for the small-town girl and took a few days for her to come to terms with.
“It was like an out-of-body experience for a couple of days, and then one day I was just so overwhelmed by it and was asking what I’d gotten myself into,” she remembered. “It took a couple of weeks because your life just completely changes.”
One of the things she had to do was take time off from her schooling, as her commitment representing the state in the Miss America pageant and other events would take up a lot of her time.
“I spent two weeks in North Platte after I won and had to get ready for Miss America and consult with them on my gown and everything,” she said. “It was just so rapid-fire, and I realized then that it was going to be a year unlike any other in my life and I was just going to embrace it and have the time of my life.”
Her year as Miss Nebraska has taken her to every corner of the state, from the big cities of Omaha and Lincoln to small towns like Wayne and even a small-town radio station in Lexington, where she experienced one of the funniest moments of her reign.
“I do a lot of TV and radio interviews and I was at this radio station in Lexington and they gave me a tour of the place,” she said. “When I was growing up, my dad was listen to a guy talk about the corn prices on the radio and I always laughed thinking there was a guy in a room at the radio station talking about corn prices. They took me around the station and showed me this little room where the guy was doing that, and I thought was the most amazing thing I’d seen and they all busted out laughing at me.”
Her journey has taken her to speaking events to local Legion, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and she has talked about her platform, which is “United We Stand: Honoring Our Military.” Her platform is a tribute to her late grandfather, a Korean War veteran, and she has raised more than $20,000 for Veterans and Gold Star Family Honor Flights, of which she has served as a guardian for four trips.
After taking the fall semester off, Tietjen is taking some online courses with the hopes of finishing her degree this spring and pursuing a career in occupational therapy.
Her year as Miss Nebraska will come to an end in June when she crowns the next winner in North Platte. Without a doubt, it’s been an experience she will never forget.
“Being Miss Nebraska is kind of like being a public figure for the year, but it’s what you make of it,” she said. “I’m from a small town and I wanted to go all over Nebraska this year and it’s been one of those jobs where every single day is different and you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, but it’s been a real positive experience for me.”