Mary Petersen, the daughter of Ron and Bev Petersen of Nisswa, is the current Miss Minnesota United States. Soon, however, her title could be even more impressive.
On July 5-7, Mary will compete in the Miss United States Pageant in Washington, D.C.
Before her rise to state royalty, Mary was born and raised in Nisswa and is the youngest of five siblings.
“My fondest memories were actually in the summer doing the turtle races. We would all go out and find turtles to catch,” she said.
Later, her involvement in the Nisswa community continued as she worked at Rafferty’s Pizza for five years.
Mary was the president of her class and she graduated from Brainerd High School in 2008. She went on to Hamline University in St. Paul and graduated in 2011 with a degree in legal studies and a minor in religion.
In the fall she will attend the University of St. Thomas to pursue business and corporate law.
“My dream job would be to be an in-house corporate attorney for a Minnesota-based company such as General Mills,” Mary said.
In addition to her pursuit of a legal career, Mary has been involved in pageant competition for several years. She was crowned Miss Brainerd Lakes in 2010 before becoming Miss Minnesota United States in February.
As Miss Minnesota United States, Mary has been involved in events across the state and some events in the lakes area, including the women’s Pink Ribbon Golf Classic at Grand View Lodge.
At the golf classic, she spoke to participants about the effects of their donations to the American Cancer Society.
“My parents are both actually cancer survivors, so I got the opportunity to speak to them about how cancer has affected me and how their donations are helping families like mine,” Mary said.
In addition to attending and speaking at events as Miss Minnesota United States, Mary also enjoys running, scrapbooking and reading in the sun. Preparing for the Miss United States Pageant currently occupies a majority of her time.
Mary explained that the Miss United States Pageant is a spokesmodel pageant. Each candidate’s score is determined in an interview, a swimsuit competition, an evening gown competition and an onstage question. Each area of competition is worth 25 percent of the score.
Each competitor has a platform that they promote, and Mary’s platform is entitled Living Healthy Day to Day.
For this platform she follows and promotes the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. These recommendations suggest that adults be active for 60 minutes per day and children be active for 30 minutes per day.
The recommendations suggest eating a primarily plant and fruit based diet and avoiding genetically modified foods.
Mary’s platform sprang out of the lifestyle her family follows, but it has also been a conscious choice for her. She explained that when she first went to college, she had the opportunity to eat however she wanted, and she noticed a difference right away.
“You can do whatever you want and eat whatever you want, and doing that, even for a short period of time when I first moved out of the house, I could see the difference in my body and feel that I wasn’t as healthy as I was,” Mary said.
Mary went back to more healthful eating, which coincided well with the American Cancer Society’s guidelines. The national Miss United States organization supports the American Cancer Society, too, which made her platform a perfect fit.
On Tuesday, July 2, Mary left to compete in the Miss United States Pageant in Washington, D.C. She looked forward to being in the nation's capital over the Fourth of July. She and the other contestants will have the opportunity to be a part of the parade in Washington, D.C., and they will be able to see the fireworks on Capitol Hill.
There is at least one thing she is nervous about, though.
“I’ve heard that there is going to be a stairway leading onto the stage so I’m actually extremely nervous to walk down that stairs in six-inch heels and a gown,” she said.
Of the four parts of the pageant — interview, swimsuit, evening gown and onstage question — the swimsuit competition is her favorite part.
“I feel that it really allows me to express myself, not only who I am as a person but also to show the judges and show the audience that I really am living by example and I am living my platform,” Mary said.
If she is crowned Miss United States, Mary will have opportunities to speak on her platform and the American Cancer Society on a nation wide level while also representing the Miss United States organization.
The Miss United States Pageant is not televised nationally, but there will be a live stream of the pageant on July 7 at heritagetv.com.