Allison Tietjen will take her last walk as Miss Nebraska 2017 onstage Saturday at North Platte High School.
One of her goals in her year as Miss Nebraska was to visit as many towns across the state as she could.
“I’d be traveling just about each week to some place different,” she said. These visits included school visits, but also various service organizations and different age groups, she said.
Tietjen, 22, spoke about her platform, “United We Stand: Honoring Our Military,” the roots of which go back to before Tietjen competed for Miss Nebraska.
“My grandfather was a Korean War veteran,” she said. “He was just very, very proud of the service that he gave.”
Tietjen’s grandfather died before he had the chance to fly with the Honor Flight Network to visit memorials in Washington D.C.
“So I decided I was going to start raising money,” Tietjen said, “just to honor him. Just what he stood for.”
While still in high school, Tietjen raised $4,000, “just by asking for donations for a couple months.”
The woman in charge of the honor flight asked Tietjen’s high school, Thayer Central High School, if a student could also come along, since students had raised so much money. School administration naturally chose Tietjen, who had headed the efforts, and the experience made Tietjen realize even more how important the Honor Flight Network is to veterans. For the next two honor flights combined, Tietjen raised a little more than $18,000.
As Tietjen realized she wanted to compete for Miss Nebraska, “I wanted to talk about something that was important across the state of Nebraska,” she said. “So it just kind of worked out.”
After her reign ends, Tietjen plans to finish her last year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a family science and nutrition major, before applying for graduate school to study occupational therapy.
Tietjen won on her third year competing. The first year, she said, was “very, very nerve-racking” as a fresh 18-year-old.
After watching the talent competition onstage, Tietjen knew she found something she loved.
“I just remember thinking, how did I get so lucky to be a part of this?” she said. That year, she won third runner-up.
In Tietjen’s second year, she came back more focused and was disappointed when she won first runner-up.
“I really thought that I could win if it was in the cards for me,” she said.
Tietjen took a year off — and fundraised more that year than the years she competed — and came back for her third try in 2017. While she was ready to compete, she also came with a different mindset.
“I kind of realized that life is going to be OK, with or without a crown and sash,” she said. “I realized that yes, Miss Nebraska is an amazing thing, and it can truly change your life, and it changed mine. But if it doesn’t work out, that’s not going to be the biggest thing of your life.”