Miss America preparation is so much more than aesthetics for Windsor’s Miss Colorado | MyWindsorNow.com

Miss America preparation is so much more than aesthetics for Windsor’s Miss Colorado

Allison Dyer Bluemel

Like most Miss America contestants in the weeks leading up to Sunday's competition, Windsor's Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson spent her time shopping for the appropriate outfits, going to the salon, making public appearances, preparing for competition and staying in shape.

But Johnson's career as a nurse and the differences that set her apart — her standing as one of the older contestants and one of the few college graduates with an established career — were at the forefront of her mind amid her preparation for her favorite part of the competition: the interview. In fact, when her day ends, she's usually reading the news, talking with politicians and downloading as many news apps on her phone as possible to prepare for the interview.

"I use my own opinions," she said before departing in late August for New Jersey and the pageant. "I just use (those sources) to supplement what I've developed in my own thinking."

The experience up to this point has been a whirlwind for Johnson, who only began competing in pageants two years ago, during her time at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Until the moment of crowning as Miss Colorado, she hadn't won a pageant.

"I'm a small town girl, and I love it that way," she said with a laugh. "I've never really had the idea of what that life was like, so that's pretty cool."

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Once the shock subsided after the state pageant in June, she began looking seriously at what it would take to garner the Miss America title in Atlantic City, N.J., this weekend.

Her days begin early with Crossfit — the tough workout she does four days a week — and then, if she has an appearance or two, she goes to the salon to get her hair and makeup done. She'll squeeze in a nutritious meal before those appearances.

"At night, I usually go to a yoga class or a spin class — something active that I enjoy — and then catch up on current events," she said.

In between those busy moments, she'll meet with her director to buy gowns and other outfits for the pageant and her appearances.

While viewers of the Miss America Pageant on Sunday will see minutes of the contestants' interviews, in full they each take two hours and judges can ask any questions they want to evaluate the women.

But her preparedness for the interview section is only one of many factors Johnson, her family and fans believe will set her apart when she starts the preliminary competition the week before the televised pageant.

"Her resume is incredibly strong, and her academics really put her at the top of the list," her mother, Julie Johnson Haffner, said.

In a competition that usually draws in 18- and 19- year old women still in college, Johnson stands out as the only registered nurse and one of the few contests who has finished their education.

"It shot her to the top," Johnson Haffner said.

Johnson hasn't squandered the opportunity to take her professional and educational experience to the competition and has established a firm platform based on health and nutrition.

Her platform centers on the Health Initiative PLUS, which stands for Prevent, Live, Uncover and Study.

As a lead member of her collegiate volleyball team and a valedictorian, she said she has the skills to demonstrate how to be great at something for a long time and has garnered credibility from her schooling.

"I think it sets me apart from other people, but I'm sure that whoever wins Miss America will be qualified," she said.

Additionally, Johnson took her experience as a nurse working with an Alzheimer's patient as inspiration for her talent, which will involve delivering a heart-felt monologue on what it means to excel at what you do and make a difference in the lives of those around you.

While the fame and the fantastic wardrobe are definite pluses, Johnson's main motivation for competition is using the pageants as a way to pay off her student loans — which she's managed to put $15,000 toward — and making a difference in the lives of those around her.

It's amazing, said Gene Haffner, Johnson's stepfather, to watch boys and girls line up to get autographs from his stepdaughter.

"I really don't know how to describe the feeling of seeing 40 or 50 young girls and boys standing in line wanting an autograph or a photo with her," he said. "(I can see her) setting an example for young people that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible."

Even if she ends up not taking home the crown, Johnson won't feel disappointed. Instead, filled with the gratefulness she has carried with her since the beginning, she plans to return to the nursing field in some capacity.

However, the family has gotten overwhelming support hoping that she will carry on her responsibilities as a role model.

"Everyone is hoping she'll be crowned as Miss America," Haffner said.

To watch

This year’s Miss America contestant competed in the preliminary competitions in the week leading up to the 7 p.m. Sunday ABC television broadcast, where 14 semifinalists will be selected by judges to compete on air.

The early portion of the show will feature all the contestants, before the field is narrowed to 14 semifinalists.

Your attention please

Windsor’s Kelly Johnson, who was named Miss Colorado and is slated to compete for the title of Miss America, downplayed the importance of being chosen in the Top 5 by a website that predicts the finish.

Regardless, the folks over at pageantsnews.com see something special in Johnson and picked her to finish in the top five at the least. Click here to see for yourself.

A scholarship

Windsor resident Kelley Johnson was one of five Miss America contest to earn a $5,000 science, technology, engineering and math education scholarship.

“If I’m only remembered by one thing from my Miss America experience let it be this one,” she posted on her Miss Colorado Facebook page after earning the scholarship. “My education and support for intelligent women leaders is exactly why I joined this organization in the first place.”