Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

Miss Wisconsin, Paula

Paige Weslaski
04/29/16

For almost every young woman in the country, any notion of the Miss America pageant immediately floods the mind with vivid memories of watching the coveted showcase year after year. Messy pigtails, fuzzy pajamas, and the sweet aroma of stovetop popcorn from the kitchen accompany thoughts of the electrifying event. The serendipitous narrowing of women constitutes the spectacle to be as unpredictable as a Superbowl overtime.

The women at Miss America are fabulous. They are illustrated as the aristocracy of America's women, and for obvious reason. Miss America contestants are charming, witty, passionate, and (need I mention?) drop-dead-gorgeous.

In 2013, 19-year-old UW-Milwaukee cross country star Paula Kuiper was crowned Miss Wisconsin. She took off running (no pun intended) and stamped herself as one of the most memorable, glorious Miss Wisconsin's in existence. From her addicting smile to her (trendy) girl next door attitude, Paula made it clear the year was not about her. It was about who she could impact and uplift through the title she had been given.

Paula is a role model for thousands of young women. Not because of her dazzling appearance, chic ambiance, or Top-12 finish at Miss America, but because of her invaluable outward focus.

Jesus explains to "view others as more important than yourselves."  In Latin, the name Paula literally translates to "small." This couldn't be more fitting to parallel the views Paula has in this world; she places the needs of others before herself, seeing their problems as bigger than her own. It's ironic (and rather magical) how one of the most servant-hearted young women in Wisconsin also happens to (arguably) be the most famous.

Paula shines for Christ. She is intentional about every decision she makes, and it's clear God is using her in tremendous ways.

Let's get to know our very own Paula Mae Kuiper.

Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

Did you grow up always wanting to compete in pageants?

Definitely not, if you were to tell me that I was going to be a Miss Wisconsin five years ago, I probably would have laughed at you. I always watched Miss America with my sisters growing up, but I never thought I would actually end up on that stage!

What went through your mind the moment you crowned?

The moment was such a blur, but I remember looking up at my family and friends saying, "WE did it." 

Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

What was your most memorable moment as Miss Wisconsin?

My most memorable moment was probably anytime I spent with Reagan Imhoff. I was introduced to her through the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and we always had an absolute blast together. Her determination, strength, and optimistic attitude still amazes me!

What was it like at Miss America in Atlantic City?

The schedule at Miss America was always go, go, go. There were a lot of promotional thing we did that week, like going down to the boardwalk, restaurants, and shopping malls around Atlantic City. When we were promoting the Miss America Organization, we were off filming and preparing for the show. The schedule was packed all the time, and we were barely able to sleep for about two and a half weeks. I became really close to Shelby Ringhdal, Miss Missouri, and we still talk to this day. Another girl I was close with was Miss Georgia, Carly Mathis, whom was next to me in the dressing room. She was always so sweet to talk to prior to competing. 

Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

What advice would you give to aspiring Miss America contestants?

The best piece of advice I would give is this: don't just prepare yourself to be the best at (only) the pageant. Try to improve yourself to make yourself the best individual you can be for every day of your life. 

Where do you see yourself God willing in five years?

I hope to be married and done with PA school! Fingers crossed. ;)

Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

Favorite Bible verse?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" - Proverbs 3:5 

This verse means a lot to me because I am always trying to plan out every aspect of my life when I need to just realize that God already has a plan; I need to just have faith in Him. When I went to Miss America, I think my faith is one of the biggest reasons I was able to stay calm that week because I just kept reminding myself that God has a plan. I just needed to trust in that plan!

Milk and Honey Magazine interviews Miss America contestant Paula Kuiper on faith, helping others, and the inside scoop on the pageant world.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

I think taking in advice from everybody around me would have been really beneficial because, of course, at 16 we think we know it all. ;) Also, I would say appreciating my mom and dad more and realizing they had my best intentions in mind going forward.


Watch Paula's Crowning by clicking the picture below:

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