Lake Park woman prepping for national title
Over a year ago, Siri Freeh was crowned Miss Northwest on the Detroit Lakes stage during Water Carnival week. Nearly a year later, she was crowned Miss Minnesota this summer. And now in January, she'll be walking the stage in Las Vegas, hoping to earn the title of Miss America.
"It's gone really fast," Freeh said of the last few months.
While the 22-year-old Lake Park native is preparing for the next level, she's relishing her time as Miss Minnesota.
"I'm going to be sad in six months to give up my crown as Miss Minnesota, even if I get Miss America, because it has just been a lot of fun," she said. "It's also been really neat to meet people I wouldn't have had the chance to if I weren't Miss Minnesota."
"Overall, it is a lot less pressure than going to Miss Minnesota, in my mind," Freeh said of preparing for Miss America.
Though she does tend to put some pressure on herself, she admits.
She said one of the key factors to being stress free is the board she works with at Miss Minnesota.
"They are so confident in who I am as a young woman, they want me to feel that at all times," she said. "They say, 'Just remember, you were brought this far for a reason, and whether that is to be Miss America or not, you are exactly where you're supposed to be. You can go into Miss America fully proud of who you are and what you've done with Miss Minnesota.'"
Freeh said her life doesn't begin or end in January, because she has been gaining so much along the way.
As for the personal pressures, she said, it's human nature to want Miss Minnesota to bring the crown home.
"The pressure I put on myself is just wanting to do that for my family, for my board, for everybody that supports me. 'Hey, look what we did.'
"That's my only pressure. Will I succeed in life without Miss America? Yes. But, I think it would just be so cool. The last we had a Miss Minnesota that was Miss America was the year I was born, 1989, Gretchen Carlson."
Working on her platform
Since being crowned Miss Minnesota in June, Freeh has been concentrating on her platform, Living Heartstrong.
Though it's the same topic, she changed the title from Strengthening the Heart of America while in the Miss Minnesota competition.
"I decided to change the title just because Living Heartstrong implies a little bit more of an active, heart healthy living," she said.
To promote her platform in Minnesota, Freeh has been working with the Department of Health and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).
The program helps provide grants to make communities healthier, like bringing farm-fresh produce into school lunch programs, building sidewalks to walk to school on, etc.
Freeh has been helping at community forums to see what needs to be done to make that particular community healthier.
To help concentrate on her platform and being an active Miss Minnesota, including preparing for Miss America, Freeh took a year off from her schooling at the University of Minnesota.
"Miss Minnesota is a full-time job," she said. "The first thought is it's scary because I'm putting my graduation date out a year, but the way I look at it, this is an internship for me. It really is benefiting my academic and professional goals."
For example, she said, she earned an internship next year at the University of Minnesota Lillehei Heart Institute because of the work she is doing. She said they offered her a position, which usually goes to medical students. They accept 12 students out of 175 applications. Needless to say, she's excited for the opportunity.
"It's phenomenal," she said. "And they're having me work with them now as a spokesperson. It's just phenomenal the opportunities that open up for me, so even though I'm taking a year off, this is making me such a better student and pushing me along."
Freeh is studying to become a cardiac researcher.
In August, Freeh met the other contestants of the Miss America competition during the Miss Outstanding Teen competition.
It's harder to build a bond with the Miss America contestants, since she's only met them once or twice before the competition, whereas the Miss Minnesota contestants spent more time together traveling to various events together throughout the state, making appearances together.
But, that hasn't stopped her from making friends either.
She and Miss North Dakota, Rosie Sauvageau roomed together at the Miss Outstanding Teen competition.
"She is so awesome," Freeh said. "Very real, very down to earth. She has the same perspective I do -- I know everything is already determined. I have a very deep faith, this is already decided, and she's the same way."
She said there's no need to get stressed out because anyone getting stressed out shows in life and on the stage.
"Miss America, she's a woman that is comfortable with who she is, but she is at the same time focused on what she's there to do, how she's there to serve. If you go in stressed out, you're focused too much on yourself and whether or not I win."
The send-off party
The Miss Northwest Pageant Committee is hosting a send-off party for Freeh on Sunday, Dec. 9, from 3-5 p.m. in the Historic Holmes Theatre.
Freeh will be performing her talent and presenting her wardrobe for the Miss America competition.
"It's going to be really fun just so people get a chance to see kind of the finished product," she said.
Refreshments will also be served.
If you have any questions or to RSVP, contact Cindy Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-334-2321.
"I could not have even grown this much and become the Miss Minnesota I am had it not been for the amazing communities of Detroit Lakes and Lake Park and Frazee that I came from," Freeh said.
"As Miss Northwest, they had so many opportunities for me to do a lot of platform work in hearth health education and those were all things I just built on as Miss Minnesota."