Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Farewell

Ahh, the dramatic music begins.

One woman behind me will have their life change forever. To those women and their families, I know how agonizing this waiting is, so I will try and keep this short and sweet.

To the lucky young lady that wears this crown, here are my tips:

Find your team, hold them tight, and remember you can never say thank you enough:

Thank you little brother for always being the voice that brings me down to Earth, and for easily being the best dressed person at Miss USA. Also for celebrating three birthday’s in a row at a pageant, Happy Birthday Noah!

Thank you mom and dad for letting me spread my wings, but reminding me that although the world is big I always have the most loving place (and people) to call home. Also for the reminders to WRITE IT DOWN.

Thank you to my Queen Team. My roommate and all of my amazing friends for never questioning my random schedule and always finding time to keep me sane.

To my aunt Meg, and numerous friends across the state and beyond, thank you for always giving me a place to rest my head, even if you only had a 20 minute notice. Also thank you Brynn and Eva for ALWAYS filling my sleep over nights with lots of laughs.

Bunny, thanks for doing what BFF’s do. Keep you laughing, offer words of wisdom, and helping you reach for your wildest dreams. If it wasn’t for your support of my first modeling in Dallas, I might not be standing here.

The entire crew who came out to Miss USA and made sure when the word “Wisconsin” came out of my mouth, the whole arena erupted.

Love your new sister like she is family, which she will quickly become. And if you’re really lucky you actually will gain an entire second family.

Abby, we have shared lots of laughs and lots of brunch. Thank you for always putting a smile on my face, whether it was 1,000 miles away or on what seemed like a cross country road trip. You have improved my Instagram aesthetic and made this year so memorable.

To the entire Bryson family,  I really feel like I became the fourth Bryson girl and it’s one of the greatest blessings of my year.

Be open to new ideas and stay strong physically and mentally.

It truly takes a village when it comes to your preparation for “the big show”. Find strength in yourself, and be thankful for the one who offers you even more strength…in your arm muscles…Nick you rock!

If you’re for sure going to wear Emerald Green on the Miss USA stage, try on the black dress…it may just end up being the one. Mac Duggal and Bridal Elegance made my dreams come true, in more ways than just my perfect gown.  Jan and Kathy, thank you for going above and beyond to make sure I was my best dressed AND most confident every step of the way.

Stay true to who you are.

As simple as that.

Be open to learn, you don’t know everything and if you’re willing you will learn more this year than you ever imagined.

If you think you know how to blend your makeup, just wait until you meet with Brenda. You will feel like a 5 year old with a makeup kit from Claire’s and walk out feeling like the queen of the world, or maybe just the USA!

Smile a lot.

This one may become difficult throughout the year as you face stress, hanger, and what seems like a lack of enough appearance wear. Laugh through it all, you have one year to do this and it would be no fun without a few hiccups.

After a few trips to see Dr Meiser and Wahl in Minneapolis, you will do this one without trying just to show off your perfected smile.

Soak it all in.

You will have opportunities this year that you never dreamed of, take advantage of them, even if it means skipping a few, lots of, classes. If you can find a travel buddy, even better, thank you Jessie for the greatest adventures and best breakfast tacos I’ve ever had.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s is always a great way to clear your head, I am so grateful to have a support system that lives just up University Ave.

You will find so much support through this year, thank you to each of the individuals and businesses who donated to make sure I was able to do as many appearances as I hoped and have the most incredible trip to Miss USA.

Remember where you came from and how you got here.

There are countless people who helped shape you into the extraordinary woman you are today. Never forget those moments or those people.

Write it down.

It will help you remember conversations that made you cry, reflect, or laugh until it hurt. Also it’s great to look back and laugh about the time your friend drove you to a gas station so you didn’t have to use a port-a-potty at a homecoming celebration, or the time your 9 year old cousin wrote a story for her class title “when my cousin became famous”.

On that note, take pictures.

SOOOO many pictures, I recommend a backup hard drive so you can take even more than a lot.

Pictures are memories you hold on to forever, thank you Micheal and Dean for giving me some of the best memories ever, to have and cry at FOREVER.

Listen to your directors.

Denise, Craig, and Libby will become your greatest blessing this year. Their goal is to make you the best version of yourself that you can possibly be, they will do that and then some.

I will forever be grateful to be a part of the Future Productions family. Carol, Bruce, Casey Lynn and all of the volunteers your dedication to this organization does not go unnoticed and these life changing moments would not be possible without you.

This is no longer just about you.

The moment that crown goes on your head you become a representative. A representative of each woman on this stage, a group of women who will become your strength this year. A representative of an international brand, the Miss Universe Organization, how cool. And above all, a representative of the state of Wisconsin:

This can mean whatever you want it to, but do not take it lightly.

I was reminded at each middle school visit I did, that with hardwork, goal setting, and believing in who you are, any dream is possible. Crown or no crown, each woman on this stage needs to realize that the Sky really is the limit and there is no cap on how far you can go from here.

364 days, 12 flights, 70,000 miles, 90 appearances, and a heck of a good time later. I am your Miss Wisconsin USA 2017, Skylar Witte

Pageant Life: Post-Pageant Blues

Everything I write is happy, happy, positive, but guess what life isn’t always happy, happy, positive…even mine. It’s amazing but I have my days, my weeks, my months and even my years (sorry Friends fan) Every pageant girl out there has gone through the PPBs Post-Pageant Blues, sometimes it happens after a state pageant, sometimes after a biggie like Miss USA, but we all face it and if you don’t think it will happen to you prepare yourself.

I am digging myself out of it as we speak.  People will always jump to the conclusion that you are upset or sad that you didn’t win or place….always. But for most of us it has nothing to do with the outcome, it has to do with coming off of the high. Just over two months ago I was coming from this place of total mind, body and soul preparation.  Ever inch of my being was humming in perfect unison.  Not only did my butt look fantastic, but I could answer any question you threw at me from my thoughts on government funding of Planned Parenthood to my favorite flavor of ice cream, and everything in between.  PEAK pageant performance.  I had spent months investing in not clothes or make-up but in myself  in preparation for the big show.  And honestly all the time was worth the investment. I am a different person because of it!

Now on top of all of that, throw me in a place for 11 days with 50 literally amazing humans who have all been doing the same thing, who all have perfect butts and brilliant banter and you have now entered this alternative universe and that place is hard to leave. Everyone imagines Miss USA is this cut-throat, competitive experience where everyone pretends to get along but the minute interviews and prelims begin the gloves come off and the claws come out….hahaha someone actually told me that before I went. But guess what, the opposite usually happens, by the time prelims hit you have found your pageant soul mates and you cheer for each other; HONEST TO GOD.  You become completely protective of your new family, when the crowning is done and they whisk away the new queen talk turns to your wishes and hopes that she has an amazing year…then everyone stands on-stage and  the reality hits you…IT’S OVER!  Tomorrow or even that very night everyone will once again go their separate ways and you have to hope that you can reconvene at reunions, other pageants and maybe if you stumble into the state where they live. And the weeks and months pass and you miss them.

That’s phase one.

Then there is phase two….your mind goes insane….”I don’t have to do two-a-day workouts, I’m in Vegas and they have infinite pizza and buffets, when I get back to Wisconsin I’m getting Culver’s…..all of Culver’s, everything they make at Culver’s! Thank God I can stop with the hours of  FOX News and CNN coverage to try to get a full and realistic view of every single thing happening in every corner of the world. I’m shutting off for a bit, and when I’m ready I will turn back on.”

Everyone goes a little crazy after the pageant, again if you don’t think you will be this girl, prepare yourself. I have finally quelled my need to experience all of the things I had been missing, at the expense of the butt, my belly, the thighs and every other part of my body that has gone into a little bit of shock. I have started to pay attention again to the things I’m passionate about happening in the world and want to follow, everything else will be handled by a daily look at ‘The Skimm’.  Yesterday I went to the gym……I didn’t recognize the front desk attendant……uffda….it has been a long time.  I’m slowly finding my way back to me. Will she ever be the sculpted, news junkie who made her way to Miss USA, probably not?!?! But she will be a better version of who she was before this journey began and she will have some of the coolest, most insanely beautiful long-distance friends…..YEP she will and she does.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened……blah, blah, blah……it’s OK….YOU CAN CRY BECAUSE IT’S OVER, just know when it’s time to stop whining and get back to what’s important.

Also don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually sad, down-and-out or going through real depression….I’m loving my life. One part is over but a million other things are just beginning. I have thoroughly enjoyed hitting up the Culver’s and experiencing a million life events that could only happen after Miss USA.  But every once in a while the pangs of PPB flair up…..and there is no remedy.  It happened, it’s over……accepting it….slowly!

Dream Big, Skylar

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Miss Wisconsin USA Life: IT IS HERE

Since I was a little girl, I have watched Miss USA and admired the beautiful women who grace the stage. When I decided to compete this year for Miss Wisconsin USA I wanted nothing more than my chance to be one of those women. I wanted the opportunity to say “Wisconsin” on the big stage, and do photo shoots with talents like Fadil Berisha. I wanted to pick out the dress that would forever be archived as “the best dress I’ve ever worn” (sorry future husband). But, from the second that crown was placed on my head, it became so much more than me.

Yes, all of those things I listed are perks of the job. But for 8 months, I have had the privilege to represent the people and the state that helped make me who I am today. Throughout my journey as Miss Wisconsin USA, I have done over 70 appearances, and met thousands of people across the state. When I walked that stage Thursday and tonight, I am a representative of the proud, hard-working and spirited people of Wisconsin. Somewhere on this journey became the realization, this is bigger than me…so much bigger.

To the veterans who shared their love of god and country at one of my first appearances at the Tomahawk Fall Ride; to the band at Amery Middle School who learned “On Wisconsin” in two days just because I was visiting; and the cranberry farmer who was so honored to give me the literal fruits of his labor,  when I introduced myself and said that word “WISCONSIN”, you are my meaning behind it. It came out loudly and enthusiastically…but for good reason!

I have had a lot of people throughout this journey ask me if I would be upset if I didn’t make top 10 and tonight I will walk away with a smile and full heart no matter what the outcome. My goal was to represent the state of Wisconsin to the very best of my ability and as of today, May 14, I believe I have done that. Walking the stage wearing “Wisconsin” is enough, in fact it’s more than enough, for me. I feel blessed to be the woman chosen for this job and for this fantastic ride.

This is part of my life, it is not my whole life (although it’s been the best part so far). I will forever carry the distinction of being Miss Wisconsin USA 2017 and would be so honored to carry the title of Miss USA 2017 but even at that…neither of those titles will ultimately define my life. I have BIG plans, big hopes and big dreams and they do not end on this stage tonight. This is just the beginning. I embrace being the youngest contestant because it means not only was I lucky enough to experience the ultimate interview, ultimate stage experience so early in my life. It also means I now have 50 of the most amazing women I have ever met as my lifelong friends and inspirations. I have a big, bright and beautiful future ahead of me. I am not the underdog. I am not at a disadvantage. I am not going to be devastated by any outcome….because tonight….this is the dream. I did what I set out to do. I represented the state of Wisconsin with everything I have in me. I am the best version of me that I have ever been.

There are 51 women and not a single one among us is ‘not deserving’, not a single one among us will not make a wonderful Miss USA and a great representative at Miss Universe.

So if I don’t win what is the plan you ask…first and foremost return to the state I love and enjoy every last second of holding this title. I will finish out my undergrad degree. I am registered for summer courses and one more semester on-campus. Which brings me to the next part, continue building my modeling and acting portfolio and reel because that process has been on hold but it’s still a dream. I plan to eventually make a go of it in the entertainment  industry before someday returning to law school. Some people take a gap year, I am planning for a gap career. In the meantime I will continue to model for my favorite clients and hope to do Mac Duggal Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week again, if they will have me. I plan to spend time with my family (I miss them), maybe hang out with some babies, any babies will do. Go on dates, this isn’t an open invite but there is a boy who’s out in the world who I would love to go on a date with, he is probably reading this right now and either panicking or smiling….stay tuned. Eat cheese, copious amounts of cheese. And just flat out relax for my summer.

So cheer for me! Cheer loudly! But know that no matter what happens, I am proud and I am SO HAPPY!!IMG_7113

THANK YOU WISCONSIN!

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

 

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Top 5

“Your Miss Wisconsin USA 2017 is Skylar Witte”

6 months ago, this one sentenced changed my life. Over the past 6 months I have grown more as a person than I could ever have imagined.

I knew going into the Miss Wisconsin USA competition that there were many things I wanted to do if I had the honor of being crowned. I didn’t realize just how many amazing opportunities having this title would afford me and just how much fun I was going to have. Every appearance I do is different and every appearance has brought the greatest memories, but I thought to commemorate this 6 month anniversary I would share my top 5 favorite memories so far.

5. When my 9 year old cousin Eva wrote a story for class titled “When My Cousin Became Famous”. Becoming a role model for so many young people across the state is an honor that I am thankful for every day, but being able to be a role model for my two sweet cousins is a cherry on top. The story was just as adorable as you would imagine, she walked her class through the whole pageant. Reliving the best moment of my life through her words was such a sweet reminder that winning this title did not just impact me, but so many of the people who love me.

4. Singing the National Anthem at WACPC State Dance. This particular appearance was special for multiple reasons. At every middle school visit I do, I share the same story about the first time I sang the National Anthem at an Altoona High School hockey game. The story ends in me forgetting the words, utter humiliation, and using all the gumption I could muster to go back the next week and try again.   I thought while in that moment I would never sing the National Anthem for an audience again. Although I have sang the anthem since, this appearance made me especially proud, I had never given up. I also was so honored to have been invited because just two years ago I had won D1 State Pom Championship with the DC Everest Dance Team in that exact same spot. To be back on the floor as a representative of the state and cheering for my team, was such a surreal feeling.

3. The UW Homecoming Parade. Being a Badger makes me so proud, and has since the day I got my acceptance email. The parade for me was extra special, it was the first time I got to meet Chancellor Blank.  It felt transcendent because she came up to me and knew who I was. After I had won she had sent me a congratulatory email. I assumed it was from some assistant and doubted the Chancellor really took the time to reach out, I was wrong! My mom got a photo of me “fan girl-ing”. Anyone who knows me, knows that me being overly excited for pretty much anything isn’t new. At this appearance I also got to see Miss Wisconsin, Courtney Pelot, who represented Wisconsin at the Miss America pageant.  I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney when she was a local title holder and remember thinking, “that girl is the next Miss Wisconsin.” I watched the whole live stream of her state pageant and definitely cried when she was crowned. Courtney is a graduate of UW Madison, so getting to catch up with her and share a love for the greatest University on earth was fantastic. Thousands of people lined my favorite street in  Wisconsin, State Street and I threw out candy while trying to choke back tears. Footage from me in the parade was on ESPN during the game. There is no way I could ever explained how honored I am to have the opportunity to be Miss Wisconsin USA and in this moment, I was so overwhelmed with gratefulness.

2. My trip to Colorado to watch the Miss Colorado USA state pageant. This particular state pageant was the first time I got to spend any long amount of time with Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, Abby Bryson, and her mom, Lisa, after our crowning. Lisa was kind enough to let me stay with them since I was coming to Colorado alone. This trip was my favorite trip ever because I realized I had gained a lifelong friend and sister. We spent the trip laughing, eating lots of breakfast food, and realizing that we had so much in common that we really should just be best friends, and that’s exactly what happened. Pageants are always talked about as a sisterhood, and I am so lucky to have not only gained a sister, but to have gained a second family.

1. My favorite memory of the past 6 months was the day that I found my gown for Miss USA. I will attempt to tell this story in a condensed version:

I have had the privilege to work with the talented Mac Duggal for just over a year, after attending an open call looking for new models.  It has been the best job a girl could ask for. When I was crowned Miss Wisconsin USA, Mac and I started talking ideas for my perfect gown. I spent months giving his team countless ideas, nothing that I thought could actually be combined into a perfect dress, it was all over the place and a little unique. Every time I was there or working for the company we would all talk a little more about it.  At one point while visiting the Mac offices I had viewed a sketch of something being worked on and was pretty excited it sure looked like it had elements of my dream gown.  When it came time to picking a gown at our pageant prep week,  I was shopping with my directors, my mom and aunt trying on all sorts of new dresses from Mac’s collection. I loved them all, but there was nothing that screamed “THIS IS THE DRESS”. A gown was pulled for me that hadn’t been on the rack when I originally walked in the room. Immediately after getting zipped I liked what I was seeing and the gown fit like nothing I had ever tried on, perfectly. As I walked out of the dressing room and saw myself in the mirror, the tears came automatically. It was the. most. perfect. gown I had ever laid eyes on. Antoinette, the design teams Pageant Coordinator had Mac on FaceTime to tell me that he had designed this dress from his new collection specifically for me, rushed a sample so it would make it to the gown selection and it was the exact vision and culmination of what I pictured myself wearing on the Miss USA stage. Cinderella moment in real life.  The color was also hand-selected and the only completely unexpected surprise from my original dream…but the color is what makes this dress work on every level and that’s why the Mac Duggal team is the best, they just know and they definitely know me and what works for my style, personality and body!!! Turns out almost everyone in the room knew what was going to happen, but our sweetest volunteer Carol wasn’t even aware she had grabbed the gown, when I started sobbing she was panicked thinking I had just fallen in love with the wrong dress. Thankfully for Carol the sneaky plan worked out even better than imagined.  It was the most extraordinary moment, and one that I will never forget. I wish we had video taped the whole crazy thing, but for those who got to live in that moment with me I’m sure no one will forget it.  I cannot wait for everyone to see this masterpiece on the Miss USA stage. I am not revealing anything more  but if I could describe my gown in two words, they would be  SIMPLE DRAMA! (yep that will get you wondering)

To say that this has been the best 6 months of my life would be an extreme understatement. I still don’t think it’s all really sunk in, but I do know that each moment I am thankful and feel so lucky to be representing this great state. Thank you everyone for your support so far, here’s to the next 6 months! Miss USA here I come.

Dream Big,

Skylar

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Awareness

This weekend I was honored to be part of the 10th annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin-Chippewa Valley advocates for a worthwhile cause and is a wonderful organization. I have supported multiple causes throughout my life.  Among the organizations related to celebrating all abilities, I have been an award presenter for Special Olympics, a judges coordinator and emcee for the Miss Amazing pageant and am so looking forward to participating in Best Buddies events around the state as an ambassador as part of the Miss Wisconsin USA organization.

But even more so, I have been involved in awareness events and walks since I could walk. My mother was a news anchor and was often asked to participate, so non-profit events were a true family affair. I am blessed to have been taught the importance of community involvement and giving back. We did it all, Alzheimer’s awareness, heart disease awareness, Epilepsy awareness, mental health awareness, and breast cancer awareness. The latter came to be when my Nana was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer when I was 12 years old. She wanted to attend events and we all got involved.  Something she used to say has stuck with me all of these years. We would all get dressed up in our pink shirts with our ribbons and pins and head to an ‘awareness’ event and she was bald and sick and going through chemo and would say….”AWARENESS, oh I am aware, I’m aware of what breast cancer is and what it does and what it means.” and she was, we all were. For my family it meant we would eventually lose our matriarch.

So when I go to an awareness event that is always top of mind. The families who attend, who live every day with ‘awareness’, choose to come to help the rest of the world understand, even if it is just for one day, for a few hours in a park, to share what it means. It is a time for them to come together, be together, to laugh and sometimes cry. My heart is full this Monday morning knowing that showing up with a crown and banner didn’t actually make anyone more ‘aware’ of the ups and downs these families face every moment of every day, but it did put a smile on a lot of faces. They are aware, and I am more aware and more educated than I was yesterday.

This will be my favorite part of being Miss Wisconsin USA. Please invite me to your ‘awareness’ event, I would be honored to be a part of something bigger.

Dream Big, Skylar

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Tomahawk

Nestled in the Northwoods of Wisconsin is the beautiful community of Tomahawk. To most in the world it is known as a motorcycle mecca,  with not one but two Harley Davidson plants located in the city. It is home to one of the largest biker rallies in the nation, the event raises thousands of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but to me it is my second home.

Tomahawk is where a majority of my extended family lives. It is the place I have worked since the age of 14! On the shores of Lake Nokomis there is a supper club that has been owned by not one but two sets of my great aunts and uncles. It has been in our family for 23 years. Rumors say the building was once financed by the mob as a rum running operation and the tunnels and false walls in the basement would lead me to to believe that is true.

I have been a busser, a hostess and a waitress there for summers as long as I was allowed to work. I believe no job in the world teaches you the value of hard work more than, literally, serving others. When it is your job to provide vacationers with a memorable experience and your tuition bill depends on it, you learn the importance of customer service, kindness and hustle. A smiling, happy customer is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

My summers in Tomahawk have prepared me for my job as Miss Wisconsin USA, to the thousands of locals and tourists I’ve had the pleasure to meet over the years, thank you. I wish I could share the true essence of the ‘Fish Fry’-Wisconsin experience with the world, but that batter just doesn’t travel well. So everyone from this point forward will have to take my word for it.

From apron to crown, proud to represent Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Dream Big, Skylar

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Pageant Life: Confidently Beautiful

With all the excitement of the crowning of a new Miss USA last night, I wanted to take a minute to share my two cents about what it means to be a “pageant girl”.

Over the past two weeks 52 of the most extraordinary women in the country took to Vegas. The contestants volunteered, spent time bonding, and rehearsed (a lot I can imagine). But what those girls also dealt with over the past two weeks was being in the public eye constantly. When they walked across the stage, their bodies were seen by millions of people and judged by far more than the judges assigned to the difficult task of choosing just one Miss USA.

I think the biggest, most difficult issue facing young women is being comfortable in your own skin regardless of what others have to say about you. We live in a world where even strangers can have feedback on our lives, through social media. It amazes me what complete strangers find appropriate to stay about these contestants publicly for all to read.  That is extreme pressure and even though as a pageant girl you sign up for that aspect when you compete it doesn’t make it acceptable. I always wonder what an internet troll would say if they came to face-to-face with a contestant they called fat, ugly or dumb. Especially after hearing the strong words of our new Miss USA, a dedicated member of our military, who happens to be beautiful and well-spoken, would you have the guts to look her in the eyes and tell her she was anything less than amazing.

The Miss USA contestants prove being confident in who you are, owning yourself 100% of the time, and knowing full well that people will criticize you means you have already won in life, not in a pageant, in LIFE.

I wanted to use this opportunity to say thank you to all 52 contestants who competed. Thank you for being a role model to people across the world. Thank you for sharing with us your passions and dreams and for putting it all out there. I can speak from experience when I say walking on stage in front of an audience of people is no easy task, and you all did it with grace. Thank you for representing your state and the Miss Universe Organization. You are the epitome of real “pageant girls”, confident, strong, intelligent, compassionate, giving young women. Thank you for always staying true to yourself. You see the character of these phenomenal women as they all surround their new Miss USA with tears of pride in their eyes. These are women empowering women, and understanding that although it is a competition, the best they can be is themselves and in the end support the one among them who was chosen to represent them all, heck to represent us all.

So thank you to each of the contestants who competed last night. Thank you for being someone that thousands of people look up to and for representing yourself and your state to the best of your ability. Congratulations to the new Miss USA, and congratulations to each of the contestants. There are many girls out there who would love to have been where you were standing last night, be humbled by that reality.

In addition, those following my journey. Miss USA is still the dream for me, someday I hope to have my chance to be among that elite group and I’m so thankful I have young women before me to look up to and motivate me to reach that dream!

Dream Big,

Skylar