Thank You 2018 Miss Auburn Titleholders The Miss Auburn Scholarship Pageant Is This Saturday, January 19th

In just a few short days a new Miss Auburn and Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen will be crowned.  The Miss Auburn Scholarship program is an official preliminary to Miss Washington and the Miss America Scholarship Pageants.  The competition is officially sponsored by the Auburn Noon Lions Club.

The Miss Auburn website shares that “the goal of the Miss Auburn Program is to inspire accomplishments and motivate personal achievement in young women. This program aims to assist young women to reach their educational goals and dreams.”

Miss Auburn & Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen Pageant

The Miss Auburn & Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen Pageant is this Saturday, January 19th.  It is being held at the Auburn Performing Arts Center.  The show’s runtime is from 6:00pm-9:30pm.  Tickets ($25) are available online now. They can also be purchased at the box office.

Saturday’s program will be hosted by Mayor Nancy Backus.  Miss Washington, Danamarie McNicholl will also make a special appearance.  Expect to see other visiting crowns from around the region throughout the audience as well!

Attendees will once again have a chance to vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”  The money collected for this portion of the program will be donated to the Auburn Food Bank.  Last year over $1,000 was raised and given to the food bank.

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Photos by Alisa Clark

Saturday night will also be the final night for our current Miss Auburn, Whitney Van Vleet, and Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen, Olivia Thomas.   We talked to them to get an idea of what their year was like as a Miss Auburn titleholder and see what advice they have for future Miss Auburn competition participants.  Whitney and Olivia both provided songs for the Auburn Playlist for January, so be sure to check out their songs too!

Whitney Van Vleet, Miss Auburn 2018

Auburn Examiner: How many times did you compete in the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program?
Whitney Van Vleet:  I competed in the program twice before winning last January.

Miss Auburn 2018 Whitney Van Vleet | Photo by Alisa Clark

AE: Why did you join the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program?
WVV: I joined the Miss Auburn program because one of the girls I sang in choir with was Miss Auburn 2015.  She encouraged me to do the program as a way to further my vocal talent.

AE: What is your most memorable moment in the program before being crowned Miss Auburn?
WVV: Performing ‘O mio babbino caro’ during talent last January.  I remember walking offstage feeling like I had completely nailed it, and as a performer, that’s one of the most exhilarating experiences.

AE: What is your biggest take away from the program?
WVV: Interview skills.  This program gave me the tools to be an excellent self-marketer, a confident public speaker, and the ability to think clearly on my feet.  These are skills I will use the rest of my life, especially in future career endeavors.

AE: Many people see the Miss America, Miss Auburn or pageants in general, as outdated.  What would you say to them?
WVV: I think it is more relevant today than ever.  Fourth wave feminism is all about equity, and the Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the U.S.  In a culture focused on advancing young women, Miss America is doing just that.

AE: If a girl was considering joining the program but was uncertain, what would you tell her?
WVV: I’d advise her to just jump in and try something new.  I was very nervous and unsure before I was a contestant, but I thought of it as an opportunity to try something completely out of my comfort zone.  And look where it’s brought me!

AE: What is the best advice you’ve been given while in the program?
WVV: Be 100% YOU.  My first two years competing, I was so worried about saying the right thing to appeal to the judges, I was too afraid to speak my bare opinion.  [To] show my goofy personality, expose my humor, and my less than feminine hobbies/behavior (for example, playing rugby).  My third year, I threw all those reservations out the window and decided to focus on being completely genuine.  This is something that has not only helped me achieve my goals through the Miss Auburn program, [it’s] carried through in every other aspect of my life.  This lesson is so important to me, I have a tattoo of the Dutch/German word “echt,” meaning real/genuine.

AE: What advice would you give to girls entering the program?
WVV: Be YOU.  Be real.  Be genuine.  For years, I thought I had to fit myself into this “pageant mold.” I thought I had to answer for what I thought the judges wanted to hear. I thought I had to literally create a “Pageant Whitney,” that was separate from “School Whitney, or At Home Whitney.”  I thought because I wasn’t a ‘pageant girl,’ I had to make myself into one.  Once I tossed all those fears of not being good enough as plain, regular Whitney, I was able to succeed and achieve the best version of myself.

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Miss Auburn Whitney Van Vleet performing at Miss Auburn 2018 | Courtesy Photo

AE: When did you begin your vocal training?
WVV: I began singing my freshman year of high school when I auditioned for Show Choir and made it in on a whim.  I began private vocal lessons [in] my sophomore year of high school (I believe), but didn’t start studying opera till my first year of college.

AE: You’re nearing the end of your college career.  What are you looking to next after graduation?
WVV: I’m currently a third-year senior at PLU.  The first item on my post-undergrad list is to get a job.  I won’t jump into law enforcement right away, but I would like to find a job in a related field like TSA or local emergency services.  Aside from my career goals, I hope to finish the Wonderland Trail with my dad (93.3-mile loop of backcountry trails around Mt. Rainier) and begin training to summit Mt. Rainier.

AE: How do you feel being Miss Auburn has shaped your future?
WVV: I feel that being Miss Auburn has given me a strong network of connections I can use for my future, particularly career-wise.  Being able to meet and talk with dignitaries, law enforcement personnel, and other citizens active in community service has opened doors for me, simply by creating a network of people who provide support and advice with considering post-college career options.

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Miss Auburn Whitney Van Vleet with a Guide Dog in Training | Courtesy Photo

AE: Your platform was guide dogs for the blind.  What have you done as Miss Auburn to further your platform?
WVV: The great thing about being a volunteer trainer with Guide Dogs for the Blind is that my platform is mobile and tangible.  For example, at the Auburn Clean Sweep, I took a little black lab puppy in training to the event.  Having a puppy in training with me is a great conversation starter, and people can learn about Guide Dogs for the Blind and see my platform in action.

Another example of this is when I appeared as Miss Auburn at the regional puppy carnival; a training day with all the local Guide Dog clubs in the area.  That was also an instance where I got to teach my club about the Miss Auburn program while being involved with the activities and exercises during the training day.

AE: What is your most memorable moment as Miss Auburn?
WVV: Most memorable moment as Miss Auburn was hearing my name and title announced as Beta Preliminary Winner in Talent at Miss Washington.  It was a huge honor to represent the city and to be recognized as top talent in the Beta group.

AE: What is your biggest take away from being Miss Auburn?
WVV: It’s just been such a privilege being a part of the rich tradition of this title in the city of Auburn.  I feel so blessed to have been able to represent my birthplace and hometown at the state level competition, and on KOMO news when I spoke on the changes in the Miss America program.

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Miss Auburn 2018 Whitney Van Vleet at the Miss Washington Competition| Courtesy Photo

AE: Describe what it was like for you to compete in the Miss Washington competition.
WVV: Competing at Miss Washington a completely brand-new challenge to me.  Many girls compete over and over, but since it was my first time, I wasn’t expecting to make top 10 or even stand out on stage, frankly.  I made so many new friends who loved my humor and goofy personality and making top 10 with a prelim talent award was just so incredible, especially since I wasn’t expecting to walk away with any awards or placement during finals night.  It was overall such a cool experience, and who knows, maybe I’ll be back someday.

AE: If your crown granted you one wish for Auburn, what would it be?
WVV: If my crown granted one wish for Auburn, it would be that all the potholes would be filled magically, overnight. (Mainly to give city employees a break from work orders for projects like filling potholes and such).

AE: What advice do you have for the incoming Miss Auburn?
WVV: Same advice I got last year and give to any young women new to the program: be YOU.  Be real, be genuine, always be humble and kind.

Olivia Thomas, Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen 2018

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Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas | Photo by Alisa Clark

Auburn Examiner: How many times did you compete in the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program?
Olivia Thomas: Last year was my first time competing in the Miss Auburn program and in any program like it.

AE: Why did you join the Miss Auburn program?
OT: I have always loved performing onstage and speaking in front of people.  So when my friend,  Elizabeth, who was Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen [2017], asked me to compete, I knew I would love it.

AE: What is your most memorable moment in the program before being crowned Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen?
OT: A month before the pageant a few other girls and I helped at the Auburn Food Bank for Christmas. I had never helped there before, and I had no idea how much I [would love] working there. The Auburn Food Bank is my favorite place to volunteer, and even if I hadn’t won the crown, I think I would still be working there.

AE: What is your biggest take away from the program?
OT: I have learned how much I can help other people, with or without a crown.

AE: Many people see the Miss America, Miss Auburn or pageants in general, as outdated.  What would you say to them?
OT: I actually had the same views last year before joining the program. I expected a shallow beauty pageant, but what I got was the furthest from that. In this competition, the focus isn’t put on outside beauty, but on the way a young woman carries herself and speaks her truth. Through this program, each lady learns interview skills, how to exude confidence, and the way creating friendly relationships can strength her life.

Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas | Courtesy Photo

AE: If a girl was considering joining the program but was uncertain, what would you tell her?
OT: At the end of this competition only one girl is going to walk away with a crown. The rest of the ladies will walk away with new experiences and a better understanding of how to work the world.

AE: What is the best advice you’ve been given while in the program?
OT: It would probably to be the best that I can be. No one is perfect, and no one is like anyone else, so just be your best.

AE: What advice would you give to girls entering the program?
OT: I would tell them to pay attention and take all the advice that is given to them. It all really comes in handy.

AE: As a Senior at Auburn Mountainview High School, how has it been being Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen?
OT: It has been absolutely wonderful. There have been a few days where I had to miss school for an event, and all of my teachers have been more than accommodating for me.

AE: How do you feel this experience has changed you?
OT: I have become so much more confident. I have realized how many people I have in my corner, and I have learned how to be organized.

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Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas | Courtesy Photo

AE: What was your most memorable moment as Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen?
OT: I visited Hazelwood Elementary and hanging out with those kids and seeing how much they looked up to me was so incredibly eye-opening.

AE: When did you begin your vocal training?
OT: I have been singing professionally since I was six, but I only started taking lessons about a year ago.

AE: If your crown granted your one wish for Auburn teens, what would it be?
OT: It would be the ability to realize how strong they are, both mentally and physically and that they can do anything they set their mind to.

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Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas at Miss WAOT | Courtesy Photo

AE: Reflecting on your competition in the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen, what was that experience like?
OT: Absolutely surreal. It honestly felt like a dream when I was there. The people both in the pageant and working there are so kind, and it made me feel so confident in my abilities.

AE:
Your platform was teen mental health.  What have you done during your time as Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen to further your platform?
OT: Currently I am working with City Hall to create a video for teens called the READY Program, which teaches them about mental illness and how to help someone with depression. I have also posted on social media about my journey with mental illness to increase awareness.

AE:  Will you compete in the Miss Auburn competition?
OT: Unfortunately, I plan to move out of state for college, but if I come back to Auburn, I would love to.

AE: What is your advice for the incoming Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen?
OT: Buy a planner, because your life is about to get hectic. Also, you have so many people in your corner, don’t be afraid to lean on them. You got this.

Thank you, Whitney and Olivia, for all that you have done for Auburn this year.  May you have all the happiness and prosperity you need to make your dreams come true.  And remember – you may not wear the crown, but like all former titleholders, you will forever remain Miss Auburn and Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen in our hearts!

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Miss Auburn Whitney Van Vleet, Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas | Courtesy Photo

Thank you Miss Auburn Sponsors!

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Miss Auburn Whitney Van Vleet, Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas and Candee Smith of the Auburn Noon Lions| Courtesy Photo

Each contestant is sponsored by a local business or organization.  Thank you to the following sponsors for investing in our community and being a part of this wonderful program.  When you are out and doing business, please consider supporting these businesses and organizations as a thank you for what they do for our community:

Cascade Eye & Skin Centers
Oddfellas Pub & Eatery
Sound Credit Union
Longhorn Barbecue
Molen Orthodontics
Kiwanis Club Of Auburn
Auburn Noon Lions
Scotty’s General Construction, Inc.
Don Small & Sons
Auburn Chevrolet
Fbcpa Group Ps, Inc.
Leavitt Group Northwest
Captured by Alisa

 

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