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Posted on Sep 1, 2017 by Roberta Baumann
McKenna Collins, a.k.a. Miss Wisconsin, has put about 5,000 miles on the car provided to her by the Miss Wisconsin pageant as she’s visited throughout the state preparing for the big Miss America Pageant.
“It’s been a lot of traveling, but it’s been the best time of my life,” the 2014 Waunakee High School graduate said.
She’s excited for many reasons. She’s nearly reached her goal of raising $10,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, supported by the Miss America Pageant. And she’s created a new platform to promote.
“The job of Miss America is about dedicating a year of your life to serving American citizens and promoting a platform,” Collins added.
Each contestant advocates an issue or charity that is important to her, she said.
She’ll promote Table Talk, an effort to teach citizens of all beliefs to express them in a respectful and compassionate manner.
“Table talk now is so current, so relevant and necessary,” Collins said.
Collins said when she was growing up, her parents would ask her and siblings their opinions on the news. Each could articulate their own thoughts.
Now when Collins watches the news, she hears negative rhetoric, she said.
“I want to see this negative rhetoric turn into positive rhetoric,” Collins added.
She’s talked to state representatives and senators about how to work on compromising, she said.
“I’m member of both College Democrats and College Republicans,” Collins said. “That usually catches people totally by surprise, but it has taught me to be so open minded and put myself in another person’s shoes.”
Asked how to bring about the change in discourse, Collins said she enjoys talking to kindergarteners about what it means to be compassionate. Teaching young people in their formative years those crucial skills can help them to become productive citizens in the future, she said.
She brings this message when talking to Kiwanis Clubs and at fundraisers – that we must all work to be as open minded as possible and speak with compassion in an effort to come to an understanding.
“Each and every one of us goes through life perceiving the world in certain ways because we all come from different backgrounds,” Collins said. “If we can empathize with where another person is coming from, we can come to an understanding.”
Collins has been preparing for the Miss America Pageant all summer. She leaves on Aug. 29 to head to New Jersey where she will stay a week and half before the televised event.
The preliminary events are Sept. 6-9, with the televised event on Sept. 10.
“So far, the biggest thing I’m focusing on in preparation is making sure I’m getting into communities across the state as much as possible,” Collins said.
Her favorite so far has been Hillsboro in the western part of the state, she said.
She first appeared at a dairy breakfast in Hillsboro and “fell in love with all the people there,” she said.
She returned recently for a tractor pull.
“Hillsboro has a special place in my heart. They welcomed me with open arms. Going back twice you develop a relationship with people,” Collins said.
As for the Miss America Pageant, Collins said she’s confident in every area, and plans to “allow that to shine” for the judges.
“All I can do is go there and be the best representative I can possibly be. What’s going to happen is going to happen,” Collins said. “Even if I don’t win, I get to be Miss Wisconsin, and that’s pretty cool.”
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