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UWO student crowned Miss Oshkosh

Jessica Johnson

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UWO student Serena Larie was crowned Miss Oshkosh 2016, supporting her platform Get Involved Via Engagement (G.I.V.E).

The 2016 pageant was held Saturday, March 12 at Oshkosh West High School’s Alberta Kimball Auditorium.

According to Larie, she was inspired to run for Miss Oshkosh by her sister, Janelle Galica, a former UWO student and Miss Oshkosh winner who was crowned 10 years ago.

“I was around nine or 10 when she was crowned, and I watched her become a role model for her community and the impact she had on people and that was when I decided this is something I really want to do,” Larie said. “So, 10 years later I was crowned Miss Oshkosh, and we are also 10 years apart in age, so that 10 years is really significant to me.”

Larie said this is the second time she has competed in a pageant. The first time was in 2015 when she was the first runner up at the Miss Oshkosh pageant.

Larie, who is majoring in communications and minoring in business administration, said winning the Miss Oshkosh title felt both amazing and surreal.

“I felt very good about my performance, and I am very pleased to serve Oshkosh for this next year,” Larie said.

Mariah Haberman, a judge at the Miss Oshkosh pageant and a past Miss Oshkosh titleholder, said she was looking for the next Miss Oshkosh to be well-spoken, kind, healthy and passionate about her platform, and that Serena was “the whole package.”
“She answered tough questions in our interview, she danced beautifully on stage and I could tell she takes her platform very seriously,” Haberman said.

Larie said the platform she is advocating this year is G.I.V.E, which is a way people can give back to the community in any way possible.

“There are so many things you can do to get involved, and that is mainly really what I want to try and promote this year, how important it is to give back to a community that has given so much,” Larie said.

According to Larie, the most nerve-wracking part of the pageant was the onstage questions, where she ended up learning a valuable lesson about being human.

“This year I was asked about what makes Oshkosh stand out, and I know Oshkosh is event city, we have so many events to offer, but halfway through answering I forgot my question, and I just kind of blanked a little bit,” Larie said. “I was confident in everything else, and I think if anything I really learned from that, and it is an opportunity to tell everyone I speak to that is okay to make mistakes and that no one is perfect.”

Larie said her favorite part of competing for Miss Oshkosh was all of the people she met along the way.

“Everyone describes the Miss America Organization as a sisterhood, and it is an opportunity to make friends,” Larie said. “The scholarship is also really significant and helps so much. I guess it is just how much everyone wants to help you and support you along the way.”

Miss Oshkosh pageant co-producer and choreographer Kelsey McDaniels said she is happy for Serena, and knows she will do a great job as Miss Oshkosh.

“She is already very engaged in the community and I look forward to seeing what else she does now that she holds the title,” McDaniels said. “I know she’ll be an excellent representative for our City and I’m excited to follow her journey.”

One of the first things Larie plans to do with her title and as part of her platform is to share about G.I.V.E and also share success stories of those who G.I.V.E.

“I would also like to start a page kind of like the Humans of Oshkosh, but maybe like a Humans who G.I.V.E, and also to open it up as a Facebook page for people to talk about how to G.I.V.E and their experiences,” Larie said.

McDaniels said the top five contestants receive scholarships ranging from $950 to $3,500, all courtesy of the Oshkosh Area Women’s Association.

“The contestants all receive a $400 scholarship for participating in the pageant,” McDaniels said. “There are also awards for the best non-finalist interview and non-finalist talents, which each receive an extra $350. The Oshkosh Area Women’s Association is a wonderful organization that fundraises throughout the year to give young women these scholarship opportunities.”

Haberman said she hopes the Oshkosh community understands how lucky they are to have the Miss Oshkosh organization in their backyard, and of all the pageants she has seen across the states, she has never seen one compare to the program Oshkosh provides.

“The Oshkosh Area Women’s Association has cultivated a phenomenal scholarship program that makes a difference not only on the woman who is crowned, but all of the others who compete and also each receive a scholarship,” Haberman said.

Haberman also said Miss Oshkosh instills confidence and empowers women to accomplish their wildest dreams.

“I have yet to find another organization that has made a more powerful impact on my life than the Miss Oshkosh Organization has,” Haberman said. “Hats off to the amazing volunteers who commit their time and effort year after year.”

Larie said she hopes to be a voice as well as a role model for her community during her year as Miss Oshkosh.

“I will be speaking to a lot of schools and places of employment about my platform and basically what they take away from it is going to be huge, and I’m really excited,” Larie said. “It is just the beginning and I can’t wait.”

In June, Serena will go on to compete for the title of Miss Wisconsin.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
UWO student crowned Miss Oshkosh