Miss River Valley Scholarships honor young women making a difference.
Pageants are more than just beautiful gowns, outstanding talent, sleek sashes and pretty crowns. These competitions let women showcase their confidence and skills that encourage community growth and improvement. At the Miss River Valley competition, executive director Sammi Massie says that this program is the epitome of excellence.
The Miss River Valley Scholarship is held annually in January to foster competitors’ success and confidence. “This competition is a scholarship affiliated with the Miss America organizations. Miss River Valley specifically serves primarily the Twin Cities and is all about empowering women to utilize their skills, leadership, communication and community service,” Massie says.
Leading up to the Miss River Valley competition, the women will prepare and train on their own to compete in interviews, a talent portion, on-stage questions and the red carpet event. After the winners are crowned, Massie then prepares the women to compete in Miss Minnesota, which is held in June.
Miss River Valley is an open competition, which means that any woman can qualify if they are a resident of Minnesota in the age range of 19–26 years old.
“What I tell the judges of the Miss River Valley Scholarship before their private interviews with the competitors is that I want the winner to be well-spoken, and passionate about their service initiative, and I want them to be extremely genuine and authentic,” Massie says. “I want them to truly be themselves and not act like anyone else other than who they truly are.”
Massie herself has competed in pageant competitions when she was younger and notes how important this experience is for young women. “I got so much out of competing. Even though I never won, I gained public speaking skills and leadership skills, and I had the opportunity to refine my passions,” Massie says.
The Miss River Valley Scholarship is more than just a beauty pageant—the initiative leads women to greater success in their education and future careers. Massie also notes that competitors are not judged on their beauty, but instead who they are as a person and their passions.
“My titleholders for 2022, Rachel Weyandt and Rachel Eron, earned a total of $13,000 in scholarships together from Miss River Valley, Miss Minnesota and local competitions. I’m very proud of them,” Massie says.
Weyandt, who graduated in 2020 with a degree in music, has pursued her music career since receiving the crown. “[The Miss River Valley and Miss Minnesota Scholarships] have given me more motivation to continue in my studies and be a stronger woman. I received college scholarships and personal and professional mentors, and it’s how I decided on pursuing music as a career,” she says. “They also have helped me solidify my excitement about working with the foster care community and becoming a foster parent in the future. I started these programs at the age of 15, and I am so glad I grew up doing this.”
Eron is now a quality engineer II in Eden Prairie, working directly with the creation and production of intravascular medical devices. She says she gained self-assurance from the Miss River Valley and Miss Minnesota programs. “Competing for Miss River Valley and Miss Minnesota has not only given me over $8,000 in scholarships, but the confidence to walk into any room and speak my truth. The community surrounding the organizations is truly unlike any other; we are diversely talented women, who support each other in every way. I am truly grateful for the connections I have made across Minnesota and America and everything I have learned from my ‘sisters,’” says Eron.
Both of the past titleholders encourage young women to take this leap and compete—be yourself and do not be afraid to be who you truly are. You might be crowned for it.
This year’s competition was held at Woodbury High School on January 14.