She is ‘bubbly’ and has lots of ‘charisma’
Of the multitude of trophies nine-year-old Blue Earth native Hannah Cartwright earned at the National American Miss (NAM) pageant in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, a small mirror is Hannah’s most honored award.
“I got this mirror and inside it, it says a word that I feel about myself and a word my mom feels about me,” says Hannah. “I wrote ‘bubbly,’ and my mom wrote ‘charismatic.”
Hannah’s mom, Tasha Walker, says becoming a part of the National American Miss Pageant was somewhat out of left field.
“We got an open call letter in the mail from the National American Miss Pageant, and I half-heartedly asked Hannah if she wanted to do it,” says Walker with a smile. “My mistake.”
After Hannah’s enthusiastic plea to actually compete in the pageant, Walker could not say no to her daughter’s wishes. Once the two attended the open call session in Mankato, Hannah went through a “mock call” to move onto the next portion of the pageant.
Hannah was one of only 10 young ladies in her age group in the area to receive a call back, which caught both mother and daughter by surprise.
“You think, you know, most of these girls will probably get a call back, but we were surprised to find out that we were the only ones from our area,” said Walker.
After the call, Hannah had to prepare herself for the National American Miss University crash course in June. Yes, National American Miss has its own university, and Hannah attended an eight-hour crash course of all the details any young pageant participant should know.
“I learned how to do pretty feet and to make eye contact with the judges, and how to sit with my ankles crossed, and how to walk, and we even learned a dance,” said the enthusiastic pageant goer.
Once Hannah completed the eight-hour training, she received a certificate and approval to compete at the NAM Minnesota State Pageant in August.
However, to compete, Hannah had to put her skills she learned at NAM-U to obtain sponsorships through local businesses. But Hannah had a goal, and wanted to pursue it, so going door to door for hours and hours and on weekends to achieve her goal was no sweat.
Hannah’s mother Tasha was just as enthusiastic about the light that began to shine in her daughter.
“That little girl worked harder than anyone I know when she was looking for sponsorships,” says Walker. “We wrote down a little introduction and she rehearsed what she would ask, and by the fourth or fifth business, she had the thing memorized.”
Hannah obtained 19 local business, family and friend sponsors for her to go to Wisconsin Dells.
The pageant in the Dells was a three-day event, and put all of Hannah’s (and Tasha’s) pageantry skills to the test.
While Hannah was engaged in practice and rehearsals, Tasha was getting to know the other mothers involved in the pageant and getting the swing of how the pageant would run.
“I swear, those mothers were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” says Walker. “If I looked lost, they would invite me to come with them, they would cheer Hannah on and it was just…you know how there is a certain persona with pageant moms? That was non-existant with these women.”
Walker was not the only one to make friends, Hannah, too, made many friends during their time at the NAM Minnesota State Pageant.
“We learned to walk a New York runway! Just like on TV from a real New York Girl (contestant),” Hannah reminisced in her interview with the Faribault County Register. “And we had a huge slumber party, and we all learned a dance. It was really hard to learn a whole dance in just a little amount of time.”
Though dancing was not her favorite, there was one portion of the program which Hannah truly enjoyed.
“In formal wear, I got to walk with my escort,” who just so happened to be Hannah’s step-father, Adam Walker.
Hannah also had to participate in the personal introduction and interview competition portions of the pageant, as well as the runway model portion.
“That was the fun one,” says Hannah. “I got to wear my fun outfit and go down the runway by myself. I was so nervous about it, I was puking up butterflies.”
And she, with all eyes and lights on her, made the best of her butterflies, earning fourth runner up in the category, which showed Tasha Walker something.
“She was gaining so much confidence in herself,” says Walker. “In the way she walked and talked and spoke to her new friends, I watched her go from a shy little girl to an outgoing young lady who made many new friends with her “pageant sisters.”
Hannah went home with five trophies and a multitude of awards for her efforts in the pageant. But it was that one small little trophy, a compact mirror, that made the biggest impact for Hannah.
“Every time I look into my mirror, I know I am worth it,” says Hannah.
Now, in October, Hannah is headed to attend pageant school in St. Louis Park at the Premier School of Self-Improvement and Professional Modeling. Here, Hannah will have a coach to teach her things like how to do her own make-up, how to perfect her stage presence, and interviewing skills. But beyond that, it further deepens the meaning of the tiny mirror Hannah has.
“It’s a school meant to utilize the skills Hannah already has and to build them up,” says Walker.
“Yeah,” Hannah says. “Its like I’m already bubbly and charismatic, and now I’m going to be even more bubbly and charismatic.”
As if she needs any more bubbly charisma coming from her.
When Hannah is not practicing her pretty feet, her dance moves, her interviewing skills, or any number of other things a pageant participant needs to practice, she is volunteering her time in the community where she worked so hard to get sponsorships.
“My goals are to donate my time and money to orphanages, the poor, and charities,” says Hannah. And she’s already doing that by working with CADA (Committee Against Domestic Abuse) to help raise funds and supplies for families who have experienced domestic violence and need help.
Hannah will be raising funds for CADA from Oct. 2 – 21, and will have a fund drive from 2-5 p.m. at Dollar General in Blue Earth on Oct.21.
“I want to do good for other people,” says the aspiring gymnast and pageant model.
As for pageantry, in general, Hannah says if any other girls are interested in trying a pageant, they should.
“I think you should go ahead and try it if you want to,” she says. “It’s really fun, and it inspires you. I started out with just a few friends and now I have so many friends and they taught me confidence and how to be genuine.”
In February, Hannah will compete in the USA National Miss Minnesota State Pageant. If she wins the competition in Bloomington, she will have the opportunity to compete in the national finals in Orlando, Florida.
“I was hoping to win in my last pageant, and I got good trophies, but I didn’t win,” says Hannah. “But that only means that I try harder for next time, and next time, I might win.”
Winning or not, Hannah has shown her family and her community that she is dedicated to achieving her goals as a representative of the Faribault County area at National American Miss pageants.
And no matter how many trophies she gets, she’ll still have a beautiful reflection in her tiny compact mirror to remind her that she truly is worth it.