Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Overcome Bullying One Kind Act A Time. " by Rebeka Mihalik

As Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International, I’ve adopted the platform of anti-bullying. Bulling has many forms, physical bullying includes pushing, and hitting.  Emotional bullying can include insulting someone’s faith, color of skin, clothing and nationality. Then there’s cyber bullying. This ranges from sending a mean message directly to someone to posting something rude about someone.  Often the bully is not just the person who makes the comments, if someone even agrees with a rude comment or post that is considered bullying. We should stand up for people not just go along with bullies because we want to fit in…

As you can probably tell, this is a very important to me. This is because I’ve been bullied, I have been in situations where I did not “fit in” where I was not “accepted” and even put down because I was not part of a click.  Without going to go into detail,  when I was bullied I felt horrible about myself. I had to quit gymnastics because I was told “I wasn’t good enough”, I now know, that’s not true!   I hope others will see the truth as well and that they do have value.  Furthermore, I have friends that were bullied because of their faith and nationality and my sister, who has a disability has been teased by her peers.


When kids are bullied, it affects not only them but also their friends and families as well. It takes a lot out of someone which makes them shut others out. Then they will slowly just stop becoming social. They won’t want to do things with their families or friends which also hurts them… it really does affect everyone.

Going back to what I said earlier, there are MANY ways kids are bullied, here’s a list of physical ways: hitting, fighting, yelling, rude gestures, breaking another persons things.  There also emotional ways like: name calling, laughing at someone, starting rumors, leaving someone out on purpose, making fun of someone for who they are.

I could go on but I think you have the idea…

Not everyone is bullied, but A LOT of people witness bullying. It’s easy to help put a stop to this. If you ever see someone being picked on the first thing you should do is call them out, tell them it’s not OK to say or do those things. If they don’t stop, GO TO AN ADULT! Don’t try to stop them anymore, if it didn’t work the first time it’s not going to the second!

Everyone can help prevent bullying. One way is just by showing kindness to those around you, telling them you like their outfit or just asking someone ,who is usually isn’t invited places, to go to the mall. Everything you say and do affects others, so remember, think positive!

My challenge to you is to say or do 1 kind  act every day for someone you do not know.  This will not only make someone else’s day, but make yours too.  I PROMISE.  I would love to hear your stories. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Well hello! by Serena Schreifels

My name is Serena and I’m your newly crowned Miss Minnesota International 2017!  I’ll be frank; I’m not a great writer- I’m more of a speaker and film artist. I like to work with visuals and sound.  That being said, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to explore a whole other way of communication! Therefore, I vow to you, my gracious readers, that I will do my best not only to be a good writer but to be a Miss Minnesota you can be proud of!  Now, without further adieu, allow me to re-introduce myself:


My name is Serena Schreifels.  I am a 20 year old who loves pageantry, theater, and literally everything with sugar. (Oh, and my cat)  I am a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College majoring in Film and Media.  My goal is to become a successful actress and director.  My favorite movie is by far, Lord of the Rings, and my favorite actor is Eddie Redmayne. (I mean, did you see him in Les Mis? Or HEAR him? Such talent!) 


A few other things: I love to read, send letters, and do anything creative.  I also like to sing and act. (Unfortunately, I can’t dance.)  I don’t like… sudokus, overripe bananas, or doing the dishes.  My biggest pet peeve is people who walk slow and I’m deathly afraid of big fish. (Alive or not.) Moreover, I enjoy spending time with my marvelous family, meeting new people, and traveling.  As cliché as it is my dream is to travel the world!  Most preferably in a hot air balloon and in 80 days. (Okay, just kidding about that part.)


Well, there you have it. Or, me I suppose.  I am so grateful (and tickled to death!) to be your new Miss Minnesota International. I’m excited for this spectacular journey and I can’t wait to share it with everybody!


Until next time, toodle-oo!


Serena Schreifels

Miss Minnesota International 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

"For Such a time as this…." By Stephanie Welter


Not me, not this and certainly not at this I thought. Hi! I’m Stephanie Welter, and I was just awarded the honor of Mrs. Minnesota International, 2017! It feels like a dream. I never thought in my mid forties I would be entering and winning a state pageant and moving on to an international event! I learned about the International Pageant system a few years ago, but it wasn’t until November, 2016 that I decided to go ahead and take the leap into this amazing adventure, and I’m SO glad I did...but not before praying first.


A good friend of mine who is a former title holder encouraged me take the leap, telling me she had a sense that it would be worth my while. As I prayed about this journey and spoke to my husband and kids about it, a scripture verse kept coming to my mind “....and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Es. 4:14.


My platform is Understanding the Puzzle of Autism, “for such a time as this.” A time in our history when 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed each year with this neurological and developmental disorder ( 1 in 54 in Minnesota), including my precious son Benjamin.


Autism is referred to as a “puzzle” because because we don’t know yet why so many kids are being diagnosed these days. Researchers are looking at biological, environmental and genetic factors but don’t yet have have all the answers. With this many individuals being diagnosed, one thing is for certain, we need to keep searching. We need answers. Our kids deserve them. Most importantly for now, kids that are being diagnosed need early intervention and therapies so they can lead full, happy lives.


As Mrs. Minnesota International I am partnering with The MAC Schools to be sure children are getting early diagnosis and early intervention. For older kids, we have already begun the process of launching a Life Development Program for young adults 18-21 so they can continue on with job skills assessment and training, living skills (personal care, self care, home care) and ongoing educational opportunities like college classes!


I am beyond grateful, beyond excited and ready for the job!

I can’t WAIT to tell you about my family….but that will have to wait until next week’s post! ;-)



Stephanie Kay Welter

Mrs. Minnesota International, 2017




Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Mrs. Minnesota International 2017 - Me in a nutshell…."

Hi! I’m Stephanie, and I cannot believe I’m introducing myself as your 2017 Mrs. Minnesota International! I wear many hats in life and am proud to be a wife, mom of four, radio/TV host, certified life coach, lead minister and board chair at Ministry of Reconciliation, and a voice for our unique neuro-diverse Autism Community! 


Like most Minnesotans (when the weather permits) I love the outdoors, held the Minnesota state title for Tae Kwon Do in my age bracket from 1997 - 2001, and love taking bike rides and walks with my kids.


  For the past 17 years, it has been my honor to be actively involved in raising awareness for the autism community in our state. My goal is to help transition individuals with autism into our community so we can ALL benefit! Shorty after my son Benjamin was diagnosed at the age of 2 ½ years old, I co-founded and launched one of the first center based therapy centers for children with autism in the state of Minnesota. Me and many other brave parents advocated to legislate IEBT (Intensive Early Behavioral Intervention) in Minnesota to get kids the help, therapies and support they needed.
The path to my television and radio work began when I was in high school and became the first editor of my school newspaper. I thought that being a reporter would be a way to “inform” the world of what was happening. So, off to college I went to pursue a degree in Mass Communications Broadcasting, and also Political Science. After I earned my degrees, I began my work in television news.
My career took off and I thought I was on my way “up.” I originally got into television because I felt a calling to "be a voice" to those who had none. I thought TV news was the answer, but after being in the industry for a few years and having my first son, I realized that telling people all that was going on in the world was being a "voice”—but not a "force”—for change.
After much soul searching and prayer, I decided to leave my television career and openly trust God that that dream would find its way back around. And, it did! Shortly after making that decision and stepping out in faith, I was offered the opportunity to have my own drive time radio talk show where I wasn't just "reporting" but rather discussing and finding with others solutions to the issues that challenge people in life.

That brings me to this season in life now as Mrs. Minnesota International. Here I am, my family and I as a voice for the 1 in 68 families being affected by autism. I am beyond honored and grateful to represent my home state of Minnesota and carry forward excellence and grace in this new title role! Thank you for the opportunity!



Stephanie Kay Welter​

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Meet Miss Pre-Teen Minnesota 2017" Rebeka Mihalik

Hi everyone! First off, I want to say, I am SO excited for the upcoming year! This is going to be such a fantastic experience…

The pageant was so fun! I LOVED the interviews, they were definitely my favorite part. The judges were so kind and funny! I also really enjoyed my onstage interview, it was great to show my passion for my platform while everyone was watching.   Speaking of my platform…stay tuned for my next posting when I will tell you more about!


Now it is time to get to know me.  I’m an actress. Not one of those “drama queens”, but a stage actress.  I’ve also done a short film! Plus, I am a huge singer.  I love telling stories through music. My biggest singing performance was at the state fair! I sang on the grandstand in front of more than 10,000 people! Some of my favorite genres are Christian contemporary and some pop!


I really enjoy water sports.  I live on lake so I didn’t really have a choice! But I really do enjoy knee boarding, tubing, swimming, and wake boarding! I think one of the reasons I really enjoy the lake is because of friends. In the summer we have someone over almost every weekend!


I am looking forward to going to schools and school boards and talking about my platform! I think it’s amazing the difference one person can make and I’m looking forward to doing that… I think it’s very important to be a leader.  It’s important to set an example for others on how to act when someone is just a little bit different from the rest of us! I’m also really excited to represent Minnesota.


Thank you to everyone who supported me: my sponsors, my friends and my family.   I promise I will make you proud.

Miss Pre-Teen Minnesota 2017
Rebeka Mihalik

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"Meet Miss Teen Minnesota 2017 "

Hello!! My name is Devika Narayan and I am a rising junior at Wayzata High School. I was recently crowned Miss Teen Minnesota International on April 29, 2017. I’m beyond excited about the opportunities and possibilities that are in front of me. My main interests are Indian classical dance, playing the harp, being a Girl Scout, debater, and avid public speaker!! I love volunteering wherever I can, especially in relation to my platform, Hope in Memories, and for that I love visiting the elderly with Alzheimer’s and Dementia to play the harp for them on a weekly basis!! I have been a harp player since I was 7 years old and I still love playing today. I am ecstatic for my reign Miss Teen Minnesota International and cannot wait to make unforgettable memories with all my sister queens and all the MN International pageant staff!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Whisker Whirl 2017" by Ava Ernst

Toots and I walked the runway to raise money for AHS...she was a star!

I was honored to attend the Whisker Whirl, which is the Animal Humane Society’s annual gala. This fabulous event raises money to help animals in need. Not only are there many people in attendance but also many dogs as well, as guests are allowed to bring their pets. We were planning on bringing our AHS rescue dog Sam but he had sadly passed away just a week before. So this was a bit of a bittersweet event for us. We decided to bring our other dog Toots in honor of Sam and she got to meet so many other dogs! One of my favorites was a big black Newfoundland who was soooooo beautiful (well, maybe I should say handsome since he was a boy)!  I even got to “walk the runway” to help raise money for AHS. Toots and I were announced and the MC talked about how Toots was walking in place of Sam so that was neat. 
So excited for Whisker Whirl 2017!
Toots made a lot of friends during the Silent Auction

A photographer from the Star Tribune asked to take our picture and sure enough, our photo ended up in the “Scene & Heard” section of the Sunday paper. That was pretty cool!

Our photo was in the "Scene & Heard" section of the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune...pretty cool!

 Trying my luck at the punch board for a prize

 By dinner, Toots was exhausted and slept through everything

Toots was a pulling on her leash the entire night because she was so excited to meet the other dogs. My mom says Toots has no social boundaries and I have to agree, ha ha! But we still love her! One of the highlights of Whisker Whirl was the silent auction. There were many items up for bid, from sports tickets to pet care items and even a snowboard! They even had a dog walking service that you could utilize when your dog needed to go outside. After the silent auction closed, a wonderful dinner was served and a live auction took place. I loved listening to the auctioneer speaking so quickly. At the end of the night, AHS gave us a bag full of dog and cat treats which I know Toots appreciated. I had a great time and can safely say that Whisker Whirl is an event not to miss!


Tuesday, March 28, 2017


I am particularly fond of English bulldogs because my grandparents have had three of them!  Their first two lived to 12-years-old and their current bulldog Sweetie (rescued from Underdog) just turned 6.  I don't know the name of this handsome gentleman but he sure is cute!

One appearance I especially enjoyed was the annual Underdog Rescue fundraiser this past fall. I helped sell dog treats to attendees and all of the money went right back to Underdog Rescue. This organization holds a special place in my heart because my grandparents adopted a beautiful 5-year-old English bulldog named Sweetie from Underdog! We are so thankful that our friend Megan Ehlert (a long-time Underdog volunteer and anti-puppy mill/rescue dog advocate) helped connect Sweetie with my grandparents. Sweetie was a former puppy mill breeder dog who was forced to have litter after litter of puppies. She was treated horribly there. Bulldogs have to give birth via C-section, and each time she gave birth, the cruel people who owned her stitched her up with fishing line of all things!  How awful! Can you even imagine?

My dad and my mom's best friend from college Kim with her dog Izzy enjoying the festivities

Selling dog treats to help raise money for Underdog Rescue! Super fun

All the money made at the fundraiser goes to help the Underdog Rescue to save and find homes for other dogs in need, with a special emphasis on rescuing puppy mill dogs. They had a wonderful silent auction with many donations and vendors. At the fundraiser, there were LOTS of pets. One of my favorites was a Pug who had her own car which was pretty much the cutest thing I had ever seen! At this incredible event, you can meet some of the dogs that are hoping for a home! My personal favorite was a Bloodhound puppy, he was very sweet. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend going to this one-of-a-kind event.  Special thanks to Megan Ehlert for connecting us with Underdog and for all that she does to raise awareness of the horrors of puppy mills!

Getting to meet Lexi the Pug was a highlight!  Lexi's owner takers her around to various events to help raise awareness about the importance of rescue.  She even has her own Facebook page (Lexi the Pug)...check it out!


Monday, March 13, 2017

"Fit for a queen" by Morgan Bredde

February 22 works exactly one year since embarking on my fitness journey. My entire life, weight has been in a mental struggle. When I was younger I had a distorted relationship with food and had to be watched closely to make sure that I ate some of my meals. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was taking my lunches to school and throwing them directly in the trash so as not to be ridiculed about my weight by classmates who enjoyed watching me uncomfortable during lunchtime. It was then that I learned that food would always be an enemy for me and that if I didn’t learn how to control it, I would never be free from it.     


Growing up with this mindset, food took on a few different roles. From sworn enemy, to reward, to faithful confidant. I knew that no matter what life had thrown at me that day, I could internalize it and either eat my way out of it—or not.


By the time I had reached college, I was a “normal” size 10. Not particularly fit, but as an excited freshman, it really didn't bother me much. My excitement to start school had swept my debilitating depression under a rug and I was more than happy to continue my “everything is fine” charade. Having battled endometriosis my entire latter adolescent life, I was constantly in pain and too exhausted to get through even the shortest of days due to my anemia. I was pumped so full of various drugs, and painkillers, and hormone adjustments that it was too hard to continue school as a full time student. My doctor mandated that my university change my status to an extreme part time student. I was taking about 4 classes a week at that point, and the realization that I was not going to graduate with my class was too much. This all came a few months after winning a national pageant (before life got too crazy), and the stress of meeting those obligations began to weigh heavily on me. I gained 40 pounds in 5 months. Coming home from Christmas break, I was pretty much unrecognizable. My entire face had shifted and my usual bubbly-self had been reduced to a constantly sleeping and miserable shell. That shell stayed on until I met my husband.


Once we were expecting our first, I got so incredibly sick that I was losing pounds within days. I dropped 23 pounds by the time I was induced. My entire pregnancy, everyone kept telling me the weight would just fall off in no time. I had ever been so excited! Free weight loss AND a baby?! But there's this terrifying monster that too many new mothers are not equipped with the tools and necessary support to battle. Postpartum Depression.* My depression had me eating without even realizing I was doing it. Within a week and a half, I had gained almost 13 pounds.


I could go on and on, but the point is that my relationship with food has been drastically influenced by the state of my stress. Preparing for Mrs. Minnesota and Mrs. International was a jumpstart for my health and allowed me to truly live out our partnership with the American Heart Association.



Winning fitness at the pageant was a huge surprise. While I knew I worked hard, that stage was filled with incredible women who had muscles that rivaled many bodybuilders and even more impressive- some of them were over twice my age. The realization that your version of “fit” and what is healthy for you might be different than the person next to you. This is what it means to be fit for a queen. When I was losing the weight, small successes seemed so much bigger and were celebrated and recognized no matter how small they were. Mrs. International doesn't have to be a 00, but she can be! She can be strong, healthy, and most importantly—happy. Fitness doesn't mean cutting out every good tasting treat out of your diet. Fitness doesn't mean wasting away at the gym for 5-6 hours a day. Fitness, I have learned is an ongoing journey. It's the will to do even one step more than you did the day before. It means you take the stairs instead of the elevator. It means you reach for water before you reach for your diet soda.


As you're preparing for the Fitness competition in just a couple months- remember to define your own version of Fitness when making your goals. You'll find you stop competing with those around you and start pushing yourself to be the best version of YOU you can be!


Now go get moving!



Making the minutes count,




PS- HUGE shoutout to Adam Spiker of Spiker Fitness. He is the reason I am strong, confident, and living my version of fit!


*Mrs. Texas International 2016 is an amazing advocate for helping bring awareness to Perinatal Mood Disorders.

"What to Wear for Mrs. Minnesota!" by Morgan Bredde

I can't believe I'm starting to write my blogs about pageant prep! We are officially entering the home stretch, and I cannot wait to see who takes home the crown.

 Getting ready for the pageant is definitely a lot of fun, but it's equally as stressful! Having these blogs as a resource I hope provides a little bit of relief! Remember, dressing the part is the first step!


Let's start with the first event. No, not check in—but the pre-pageant party! I stalked so many former titleholders because I simply couldn't figure out what to wear to an event like this. Luckily, I had Cheri Kennedy as my guide and we decided on an off the shoulder Cynthia Rowley dress. Her exact words were that I looked like a princess. If you know Cheri, you know that she's known as the Fairy Godmother of pageantry, so naturally, when she says you look like a princess- you go with it. I paired my dress with a gorgeous pair of open toed pumps that had a beaded chandelier-like embellishment on the heel. To this day they're one of my favorite shoes to wear. My husband of course matched me, per my request. Even down to his rhinestone shoes!

For pageant check-in, I wanted to make sure I arrived looking ready for the job. I wore a neon melon neoprene Ted Baker dress. The color bounced off of my skin and made me glow. Making sure I was appearing as confident as I wanted to feel in turn gave me more confidence.

For rehearsals (and don't feel like you need to do this, I'm just a LITTLE over the top), I changed into a bell sleeve crop top and a pleated crepe short. Paired with a floral pump, I was casual enough to move around, yet still ready for the many photos that Paula and Laura were taking! They are everywhere, so keep that in mind.

Interview was a risky choice. I opted for a dress rather than a suit, and because of my rapid weight loss, I bought my dress the night before. I wore a blood red Maggy London with simple taupe patent leather pumps. I wanted my judges to know that while I was the younger, I was strong! Red makes me feel powerful and confident and I made sure to choose my accessories accordingly.


For my onstage question, I again picked a Ted Baker dress. You really can't go wrong with his stuff! I had a very light mint dress with crystal embellishments delicately gracing my collarbones down to my shoulders. Again, feeling risky, this had a back cut out that allowed a rather straight dress to give me some “figure” back.

Fitness wear is easy as everyone is required to get the official International Pageants fitness wear from The Competitive Image! Should you win, you will wear the same thing at international finals in August. Remember your shoes must be white! No exceptions.

Lastly, gown was my favorite. If you haven't already visited Sarah Moses at The Pageant Shop, STOP reading this and give her a call. She truly dresses each individual with the crown in mind. I'm so lucky to have her as a friend and sponsor! A few months prior to the pageant, we had selected a beautiful green jersey knit gown with a peplum. It was fresh, a little edgy, and most importantly—forgiving. At the time, I was still a size 8/10 and wanted to have a dress that didn't make me feel uncomfortable. This gave me modesty and still looked beautiful. About 3 weeks before the pageant, we realized as my gown was falling off my body, that I would need a new one. There was no way alterations would be able to fix this. So hurriedly we returned to Sarah's and found one of the most beautiful gowns I have ever worn (until internationals of course!. We picked an amazing white Jovani gown with no embellishments, but a train that was out of this world. I got emotional trying it on for a couple reasons. 1) it fit! It was a size 6! I hadn't been that small since freshman year of high school! And 2) my husband had never seen me in a white gown. Not even on our wedding day. This felt as big as a wedding to me. Paired with the most amazing Stefanie Somers earrings, I was ready to add one last set of accessories—a crown and banner!

While it's the girl in the clothes and not the clothes on the girl—remember that Mrs. Minnesota is a JOB! Dress as if you're already the titleholder.


I can't wait to see how confident and beautiful you all look in just a few weeks!


Making the minutes count,