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Passing of the crowns: Miss Northwest Pageant kicks off Water Carnival

BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen, Tianna Schwartz, and Miss Northwest, Chantal Wilson, will pass on their crowns this Friday night.

The Miss Northwest and Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen pageant will be held this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Historic Holmes Theater.

Chantal Wilson and Tianna Schwartz, who took home titles last summer, will be back to pass on their crowns. They’ve spent the year representing the region, working on their platforms and continuing their educations.

Chantal Wilson, Miss Northwest   

Last year’s Miss Northwest winner, Chantal Wilson, has had a busy year competing for Miss Minnesota, attending law school and working on furthering her anti-bullying platform.

Wilson competed in the Miss Minnesota pageant this June, becoming first runner-up to the Miss America competition.

“It was a really fun week,” she said about taking part in the pageant, adding that any nerves she might have had were outweighed by the good time she had meeting and competing with the other 24 women from around the state.

She has also been involved in planning this summer’s Miss Northwest pageant.

This year, Wilson said, the pageant will have a 1980s theme that promises to be a lot of fun for competitors onstage as well as their cheering sections in the audience.

Outside of pageants, Wilson has been working hard to complete her education.

She previously graduated with a degree in business from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and will be starting her third and final year of law school this fall at the Boston University School of Law. She plans on practicing business and corporate law.

“It seemed like a natural choice for me,” Wilson said about deciding to go into the field. She also said that her experience with pageants has had a large impact when it comes to going after and attaining college and career goals.

Competing in and winning Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen in 2007 when she was 16 was a “very formative experience,” Wilson said. The confidence she gained through her experience with the program carried over into other areas of her life, helping her make the transition from growing up in the small town of Greenbush, Minn., to big-city life in Boston.

Now she is sharing some of that confidence with local teens. Through her website, Wilson has built on her pageant platform: “Power of Potential: Beat the Bully.”

Beyond traditional bullying prevention and awareness, Wilson said that the site is designed to boost the self-esteem and confidence of teens through getting involved in their interests and passions.

Overall, she recommends involvement in the Miss Northwest and Miss Minnesota as something that can help participants become more confident and well-rounded.

“What you put into it is what you get out of it,” she said, adding that participating in pageants is a about a whole lot more than makeup and gowns.

Tianna Schwartz, Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen

Tianna Schwartz, Detroit Lakes, was the winner of the 2013 Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen competition.

She will be a senior at Detroit Lakes High School this fall and plans to pursue a degree in physical and occupational therapy after graduation. She hopes to use that degree to help children.

“I love working with kids,” Schwartz said about choosing her career path. She currently works as a nanny and said that a passion for physical fitness and exercise has also influenced her decision.

Schwartz is still working to further her platform: “Disconnect to Reconnect,” which focuses on de-emphasizing technology and spending more time connecting personally with family and friends.

“I think it’s something kids can really benefit from,” she said, adding that her family is very close and it was that bond which inspired her message.

Schwartz also plans on competing for Miss Northwest next year. She said that she’s taken away a lot of benefits from her involvement with the Miss Northwest organization.

“I was more reserved, had a lot of anxiety” before participating in pageants, she said.

Her time spent competing has given her more confidence in herself and her abilities.

“I (now) know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to,” she said.

She has teamed up with Wilson to select this year’s 80s theme for the pageant and said she’s excited for the fitness routine performance to “Eye of the Tiger” that she’s been putting together with the contestants.

Schwartz said that she’s had a great experience participating in pageants, and would encourage other girls to get involved.