Simpson senior reflects on pageant experience


by Steffi Lee, Editor in Chief

Brooke Preston remembers when she wanted to win fair queen when she started competing in pageants.

“At the county level, I wanted to win fair queen so bad and it’s one thing I’ve never won, so it’s kind of embarrassing,” she said with a laugh. “I really loved the fair, I helped plan the fair, I grew up on a farm, I raised livestock my whole life, so I think I just really wanted to be part of that integral piece.”

But if anything, the Bancroft native has nothing to be embarrassed about. The Simpson College senior clinched the title of the 2011 Miss Kossuth-Winnebago back when she competed in local county pageants, which presented her with an even bigger opportunity in the industry. Preston recalls her case was unique, but it all played in her favor.

“I actually am a weird case, as most girls start when they’re really young, but I started competing (in pageants) when I was 16,” she said.

But her late start didn’t seem to hinder her success in pageants. After winning Miss Kossuth-Winnebago, Preston was able to go onto competing in the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program, which is the official preliminary to Miss America.

She recalls the entire process as overwhelming, but the hard work is what shaped her to be well rounded, she said. The preparation requires major devotion, because they are required to stay focused both mentally and physically.

“You have swimsuit, you have talent, you have on-stage question, you have evening gown and you’re judged on everything throughout the day,” she said.

Because of everything, it took hard work on her part. When asked if she slept, she just chuckled.

“No, not really.”

While she spent countless hours preparing for Miss Iowa, the time she spent most was on the interview and talent portions.

“Number one thing I prepared for the most is the interview and talent,” she said. “Interview is worth 25 percent. I didn’t really have a talent, but talent is 35 percent.”

Preston’s talent was baton and flag twirling.

“I had tumbling in it, I had dancing in it, and I had the baton and the flag in it,” she said. “It was a big routine. Your routine is only 90 seconds, but it’s a huge deal. So you practice.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Preston recalls spending hours trying to perfect her routine, even if it was in a gym out in the middle of a cornfield.

“It was kind of creepy,” she said about the location. But she did what she had to do.

Her main talent might have been putting up with all of the phone notifications she was getting to stay up-to-date on current events for her interview.

“I had three different news sources sending push notifications to my phone,” she said. “I would check them and I would write down what went on in the world that day. I got a question once about the Republic of Georgia. They can ask questions about anything, and they can make up questions too. They’re just testing you to see how you’ll answer.”

In addition to studying the news and the everyday practices to make sure her 90 seconds performing for the judge would be how she wanted it, she said she also had to lose 30 pounds.

“You do it so you look good,” she said. “The point of swimsuit people don’t really get is that you keep yourself in shape. It’s not ‘Oh, look at how hot I am,’ It’s ‘Look, I worked really hard for this.’”

The focus for the swimsuit portion is to show body appreciation and healthy life choices. When it came time to choosing her on-stage question, which is focused around her platform and philanthropy, she knew what she wanted to do – an important issue dear to her heart.

“My platform was all about not drinking and driving,” she said. “When I was younger, I had a cousin that was out on a walk and he got hit and killed by a drunk driver and they dragged his body behind the car.” Her message was to make good choices when drinking. She also made appearances at school and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program.

Although she wasn’t crowned Miss Iowa 2012, she walked away from the pageant world with many lessons, especially in confidence and to pursue what she loves. Now Preston is in her last two semesters in college. She said her experiences in pageants shaped her as a role model for women and in her career.

“I personally am going to be a chiropractor,” she said. Preston plans on attending Northwestern Health Sciences University in the Twin Cities after finishing her time at Simpson.