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Exclusive with Skylar Witte: Miss Wisconsin USA

Skylar Witte is a second year student with Junior standing; studying political science and communication arts, here at UW.  She has her eyes set on law school, and is far from your typical college student.

The weekend that the Badgers played Akron most of us were focused on the W, while Skylar had her eyes set on a crown and sash.  At a mere 19 years old, Skylar is your new Miss Wisconsin USA. 

Forty-one young women competed in the Miss Wisconsin USA pageant this year, ranging from ages 18 to 28.  This year was the first that Skylar competed in the Miss program.  In prior years, she had competed in the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA program, preparing herself for this year.   

Miss Wisconsin USA contestants are judged in three areas of competition: interview, swimsuit, and evening gown.  The top five contestants answer an onstage question. The fate of the crowning moment is in the hands of two panels of judges.  During the interview portion, which is conducted prior to the live show, each contestant gets two minutes with each panel.  Skylar’s goal was to really convey the essence of Skylar to the judges; the crazy, bubbly, happy and genuine Skylar Witte.  No pressure to do all of that in two minutes.   

I have learned a lot from Skylar since we met in high school.  One of the most important things that she has taught me is that there is way more behind the modeling and pageantry than what society leads you to believe.  Shameless plug: Skylar goes beyond her practically platinum hair and perfect smile.  Skylar is funny, charismatic, intelligent, genuine, and the list goes on.  She is humbled by her opportunities, and is not one to brag. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with Skylar after she won the title and discuss her plan for her year with the crown and what lead up to her crowning moment. 

How, when, and why did you get involved in pageantry?

Skylar started in pageants when she was 13.  Her mom had competed in pageants and Skylar always admired her headshot hanging at her grandparent’s house.  She begged her mom for a really long time to let her start pageantry, but her mom made her wait until she was mature enough to understand what goes into pageantry, and that more goes into it than just a sparkly crown.  Skylar’s first pageant in the Miss USA system was freshman year of college when she competed in the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, where she took first alternate. 

What prepared you for the Miss Wisconsin USA stage?

Her modeling career has really prepared her for this moment.  She did theatre growing up which helped shape her stage presence and confidence.  Skylar’s goal when she is on the pageant stage is to exude confidence and really portray who Skylar Witte is.  Everything that Skylar has done in the past few years has kind of lead up to this moment and made her as ready as she could be. 

Was there any sort of fitness regime or diet that went into your Miss Wisconsin USA preparations?

Skylar really likes working out.  Growing up, and especially in high school, she has always been active.  She trains at Winning Edge with Nick Kernstock to really stay in shape.  Skylar is also big into clean eating.  She eats a lot of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats; she tries to cook when she can, but she says her attempts don’t get very far.  Just like most of us, Skylar is known to set off smoke detectors when she cooks (I mean, she has flaws, too)! She stresses that balance is key, eating healthy is really important, but she has a soft spot for Ian’s Pizza without feeling guilty, just like the rest of us.  Skylar also wanted to emphasize that cheese is a huge part of her life.  “If you have cheese curds in your hand, you can’t go wrong.”

Where does your pageant wear come from?

When preparing for the state competition, Skylar was fortunate enough to have a lot of sponsors who provided wardrobe along with pageant training.  Choosing her wardrobe for the Miss Wisconsin USA stage was a lot like choosing a wedding dress.  She got to choose from a huge selection of dresses, but as soon as she saw herself in the red dress, she knew it was the one. 

How do you keep up with school?

Scheduling out her day is key.  Skylar uses three different calendars to stay on top of things.  She wants to make use of every possible minute she can, and know that she is being productive.  She is also super thankful for her manager, Libby from Future Production, who helps keep track of all of the Miss Wisconsin USA stuff and books everything for her. Since she is a college student and Miss Wisconsin USA, she is practically balancing two lives, so organization is key.  (And yes, she does sleep… I asked.)

How do you get past the nerves pre-pageant?

Skylar is a firm believer in “if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”  She practices positive self-talk, almost as if she is a motivational speaker to herself.  Whenever she is nervous, she reminds herself that “I am Skylar Witte.  At the end of the day, if I am the best I can be, then I feel accomplished.”  It’s impossible to avoid the nerves, but it is all about how you channel them.  When she is nervous, she has the funny habit of smiling, which always helps with stage presence. 

Do you have any pre-pageant rituals?

Skylar writes down her thoughts before pageants, and is always writing (Her Campus approves).  She likes channeling her thoughts and feelings into a creative outlet.  Skylar has a highly viewed blog in which she talks about modeling, pageantry, or just life as a college student.

As a girl who has never competed in pageants, it’s hard for me to convey exactly what that crowning moment is like.  However, Skylar does it just eloquently in her blog post reflecting on her emotions of being crowned Miss Wisconsin USA.

What question were you asked at the Miss Wisconsin USA program?

Q: “Do you think the world is a better place for you now or when you were younger?” 

A:  There are a lot less responsibilities when you are young, and in the short months between high school graduation and college, we are faced with a lot more responsibilities.  However, being an adult has provided her with many opportunities that she wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of when she was younger such as modeling for Vienna Prom, Mac Duggal, and being crowned Miss Wisconsin USA. 

What question would you like to be asked on the Miss USA stage?

Q: “Why do you love being a part of the Miss Universe franchise?”

A: “This franchise is all about women empowering women.  This franchise embraces a powerful network of women working together, able to create things that are out of this world.”

What kinds of pressures do you endure in the pageant industry?

The biggest pressure is facing the stereotypes and trying to break them.  Pageantry is not just beautiful women in bikinis on a stage.  There is so much more to each and every woman on that stage than the audience wants to recognize.  The women who participated in the Miss Wisconsin USA program were Ph.D.candidates, collegiate athletes, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on. These are intelligent and talented women that go so much further than what meets the eye.

What were your thoughts walking in a bikini in front of hundreds to thousands of people?

Initially, as any of us would, she struggled with the idea of it.  There are a lot of pressures to look a certain way in a bikini and she felt really self-conscious even at the thought of it.  After all is said and done, Skylar said there is no feeling like walking off of the stage after the swim suit competition.  At that moment, she felt invincible.  “If I can do that, I can take on the world.”  That feeling is what motivates her to do everything else; she feels empowered and invincible.

What is your platform for the next year? What do you hope to accomplish?

Skylar’s plan is to get into middle schools and make presentations about bullying and self-confidence.  That is the age where everyone starts to feel vulnerable, and is when the jealousy and sense of constant competition starts to kick in.  If she can inspire just one student, at one presentation, she will feel accomplished.  She has put every ounce of energy into being as she stands today.  She reflects every day on how she can become a better version of herself, and she wants to convey that message to anyone who will listen. 

Skylar wants to use her year with the crown to represent as much of Wisconsin as she can.  She wants to explain what pageantry is to the people she meets and really get a feel for the people she is representing at the national level. 

How has your family reacted to this whole experience?

Skylar’s family is a huge part of her life.  The only reason she got involved in pageantry is because of her mom.  Her mom cried the famous “proud mom tears” at the pageant.  Her whole family is so supportive.  Her dad calls her at least once a day to check in on how she’s doing, and she calls home often, as well.  Her little brother, Noah, is always sending her words of encouragement.  At her crowning, he was beaming with excitement.  She realizes he may not have envisioned himself as a part of the pageant world, but she appreciates his support and it means a lot to her to be able to make him proud. She is so grateful for her whole support system and for everyone who has helped her on this journey.  She wants to give a special shout out to all 29 supporters who came to cheer her on at the Miss Wisconsin USA pageant. 

Since earning the crown, her already large social media following has grown.  She has hundreds of people reaching out to her, congratulating her, and sending her love.  She loves how excited everyone is for her and wants everyone to live through the experience with her. 

Any final remarks?

Anyone can have this experience.  You don’t need to be wealthy to make this dream a reality, the judges are looking for a representative.

“One statistic that has really resonated with me is that: ‘A parent is more likely to have a son in the Super Bowl, than a daughter walk the Miss USA stage.’  That’s insane, what an honor.  I still can’t believe this is my new reality.  It feels like a dream every day.  There was no way to prepare for that crowning moment.  Once they announced my name following, “your new Miss Wisconsin USA” I couldn’t stop crying.  I know that I can do this and that I am ready, and I guess the judges agreed!  I know that I am young, but why not now?”

Hannah, originally from Milwaukee, WI is a Campus Correspondent for HC Wisconsin.  Hannah is a Senior and is studying Political Science and Psychology.  She aspires to work in health policy and will run for office one day.  She is never seen without a cup of coffee in hand and loves to eat any food in sight, especially sushi.  Outside of school, Hannah frequents Badger sporting events and likes to hang out with her friends on the weekends finding new things to do and new places to eat.  Hannah also runs her own Mary Kay business and is obsessed with keeping up with the latest makeup trends! This will be her seventh semester on the Her Campus team, and she loves the org more and more each semester!  It is Hannah's favorite thing that she is involved in on campus and highly recommends anyone with an interest in writing, journalism, or blogging to get involved, you won't regret it! On Wisconsin!! 
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