At the suggestion of one of her college professors, Ellen Bryan competed in her first pageant when she was a sophomore in college. He thought the Miss America system would be good experience for the telecommunications major. With her eyes set on the goal of becoming a news anchor, this future TV broadcaster began her three year journey to the Miss America stage.
In preparation for the 2008 Miss Lake Festival preliminary, she selected “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors- Promoting Lightning Awareness” as her personal platform. Twelve years ago, Ellen’s sister Christina was struck by lightning while working at a golf course leaving Christina without the ability to speak or move. To this day Christina remains in a wheelchair.
Through her partnership with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the National Weather Service, Ellen has spoken to over 3000 students, 100 businesses and service organizations, and has traveled to Washington D.C., Chicago, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana to promote lightning safety. Last year, Ellen created the Lightning Safety and Awareness Fund at the Mercer County Civic Foundation. To date, she has raised nearly $5000 for this fund.
In recognition of the depth and significant impact she has had with her platform and community service, Ellen was one of eight Miss America Quality of Life award finalists at the 2012 Miss America pageant. She also received the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal Award. Ellen’s scholarship earnings from the Miss America Organization total more than $25,000.
With Ellen being 4th Runner Up her first year, 3rd Runner Up her second year , and winning the title her third year competing on the Miss Ohio stage, I asked if she could share how her focus had evolved over the past 3 years.
The first year, she focused on developing her platform. With her confidence level growing, Ellen began working with a personal trainer for her second year of competition. In addition, she bumped up her wardrobe and went even deeper into her platform. The third year was when she really focused on her talent and prepared for “the job” of Miss Ohio. Ellen said that when she stopped worrying about what other people thought and created a detailed action plan of what she would do as Miss Ohio, a deep sense of confidence and belief came over her.
“My journey to Miss Ohio was more like a ‘soul searching’ adventure. When I figured out who I was, what I wanted, and what was important in my life, I knew I was ready for the job; and I feel that came across to the judges.”
When I asked her what the hardest part about preparing for the Miss America pageant was, she told me it was balancing her appearance schedule at Miss Ohio with the preparation for Miss America. After her crowning, she successfully juggled making 3-4 appearances a week, working out with her personal trainer twice a week, and studying with her vocal teacher every other week. Since Miss America, Ellen has had an appearance almost daily and put 23,000 miles on her car as Miss Ohio. That’s a lot of appearances.
I asked her to relate a couple of highlights from her year. Without hesitation she cited two of her favorites: the 10 days at Miss America and her Ohio bike tour this summer where she pedaled 850 miles to 45 cities across the state in 27 days. Raising over $2000 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, she rode to every CMNH in Ohio and made appearances along the way. Ellen says every women she met at nationals, the people she meets at her appearances, and the celebrities she has encountered have all been incredible.
She has three more months as Miss Ohio and has no plans of slowing down. Ellen is a wonderful example of “paying it forward” and “walking the talk.” Congratulations Ellen on all you have accomplished thus far and I know we will be seeing you on the television soon.
For the full details on her tour and to learn more about Ellen, visit her websites at http://www.missohiobiketour.com and http://www.ellenbryan.com.
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Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach, an iPEC Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF).
She created Winning Through Pageantry® to partner with pageant contestants and their support people to provide complete pageant preparation, achieve winning results in life through pageantry, and to Succeed From The Inside Out®.
She has over 30 years experience in the pageantry world as a contestant, judge, emcee, staff member, mother of daughters who compete, Mrs. Ohio America 2005, and has held multiple titles at the local, state and national levels.
Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three home educates their children and has been married 23 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.