Fargo native, Reyna Bergstrom, is Miss North Dakota 2021 and is headed to the 100th Miss America Competition in Connecticut next month. However, before she travels east, her focus remains on connecting with people across North Dakota.
Having grown up and lived a majority of my life in Fargo-Moorhead, I am proud to claim this community as my home. As a fifth-generation North Dakotan, I am proud of my midwest roots and value system that stems from generations of independent yet community minded individuals.
That service minded perspective is a trait that I believe is essential to being Miss North Dakota. Although it might appear glamorous, this job is not all about the sparkles—it’s a year of service which entails traveling around the state to serve alongside, speak, and listen to people.
At 26, I am the oldest Miss North Dakota to ever wear the crown and compete for the job of Miss America. Women between the ages of 18 and 26 are eligible to compete in any local competition, whether she be a resident or attending for school, and if she wins a title can move on to the state competition.
I competed in my first local competition in 2015 while a freshman at Concordia College. I had learned about the opportunity from a friend, fellow Fargo-native Jacky Arness, who was Miss North Dakota at the time. She informed me that the Miss America Organization is the nation’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women and that cash scholarships are awarded at both the local and state competitions.
Once learning this, I figured I had nothing to lose and signed up three days before the last local competition of the season. The day of the competition came and I was thrilled to win my first local title, which meant that I’d compete for the job of Miss North Dakota a few months later. Although I didn’t become Miss North Dakota that first year, I experienced a sample of something I came to increasingly love in the years that followed. I was inspired by the women I found myself competing alongside, and the serviceminded mentality and community of the Miss North Dakota and Miss America Organizations.
The Miss America Organization’s mission statement is, “Prepare great women for the world; prepare the world for great women.” The organization embodies a network of positive role models who are influencing their spheres–both geographically and digitally–in every single state. Regardless of whether they’re wearing a sparkly hat on their head, the women involved are working to make positive changes in their communities by using their voices to educate others on their social impact initiatives. They are public servants, doers, and changemakers. They use the resources of the organization to help them expand and reach their goals.
I’ve always wanted to be a role model, especially for young people. And consequently, I continued to compete and be involved with the organization. I was runner up at the state competition in 2019 and second runner up in 2015 and 2016. Each year that I came close to winning, I became motivated to work harder and to remain patient and persistent. While I was set to compete in 2020, the pandemic postponed the event to 2021 which “grandfathered” me in, making me one of the oldest candidates to ever compete in the history of the organization. Throughout the months leading up to the state competition, I didn’t give up on my dream, but continued to prepare to the best of my abilities. On June 12th, 2021, my longtime dream became a reality and I was crowned Miss North Dakota 2021.
As Miss North Dakota, I am sharing the message of my social impact initiative which is called, “The Influencer Era: Impact Beyond The Screen.” My goal is to emphasize the importance of communication skills and face-to-face connection, especially with students. In this digital era that we currently live in, ‘Impacting Beyond the Screen’ is a message about intentionally showing up for others in person by being a real life influencer. Face-to-face interactions are crucial because bonds are strengthened when reinforced by the physical. Things like looking another person in the eyes, giving them a hug, or simply nodding and smiling while you listen emphasizes the fact that you are there for them. As Miss North Dakota, I believe that it’s important to remind people that every one of us has what it takes to make a positive difference where we are right now, in digital spaces but even more in our face-to-face interactions. The places where each of us find ourselves is no accident and the people in front of us hold purpose, meaning, and worth. And it’s that impact and influence which ultimately makes a difference in this world.
I am humbled and honored to serve North Dakota this coming year, to share this message and to represent my home at the 100th Anniversary Competition of Miss America on December 16th in Mystic, Connecticut.