While the Miss U.S.A. pageant was held last night, one of OC’s most talented spring graduates won a very competitive pageant herself last week. Sierra Peterson is the new Miss Rodeo Nebraska and will compete next December in the Miss Rodeo America competition in Las Vegas.
Peterson claimed top honors in horsemanship, speech, appearance, personality, photogenics and the written test. She competed against three other contestants over a period of four days.
Her responsibilities will include traveling thousand of miles across the country representing Nebraska, the pageant and professional rodeo. Sierra’s goal is to work as a communications specialist for a sponsor of rodeos where she will continue to promote the sport. She graduated summa cum laude in May with a degree in public relations.
Her activities at OC included Pi Zeta Phi and serving as production editor of the university’s newspaper. Peterson was a mentor at Stanley Hupfeld Academy in Oklahoma City and participated in intramural volleyball and basketball. She also enjoys spending time with family and attending ropings and rodeos, as well as reading, dancing and helping with local 4-H groups.
“We’re not the least bit surprised that Sierra won,” said Josh Watson, Peterson’s advisor at OC. “She was one of our best public relations students and always pursued excellence in her work. Plus, she’s a pretty accomplished cowgirl.”
Sierra began preparing for the pageant a couple of years ago by selecting her outfits, participating in mock interviews, riding as many different horses as possible and studying. While not completely unexpected, winning was a little overwhelming for her.
“I looked in the mirror and had the crown and sash on and almost started crying,” she said. “It just hit me like a train.”
Peterson said she couldn’t remember much from the coronation ceremony because everything seemed surreal.
“I looked at my mom and smiled,” she said. “I just remember thinking, ‘dreams do come true.’ No matter what, it can happen, you just have to work hard.”
Peterson said she went into the pageant with the intention of not regretting anything.
“Those girls brought all they had, so I really didn’t know how it was going to go. But, you have to be gracious and poised no matter what happens,” she said. “They were all so talented and fun, and they really helped me get through the week.”
While Peterson knows that the national competition will be tougher, she is up for the challenge.
“You can’t be afraid to ask for help, and you can’t be afraid to try,” said Peterson. “Sometimes you have to shoot for the moon because you might land on the stars.”
This article was adapted from a news story in the North Plate Telegraph by Heather Johnson.