Hello everyone, it’s Alyssa Bohm, Miss Wisconsin 2019 and woah is that crazy to still hear and say. I want to introduce myself and share my story!
I am an only child to Bob and Shelley Bohm, my mom is a registered nurse and my father is a professional magician. Yes, you read that right; he does magic for a living. My childhood was filled with traveling, performing and the occasional cutting in half which was very normal in our family. I was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, went to St. Edwards Catholic School kindergarten through eigth grade and then attended Case High School where I was heavily involved in cheerleading and was the Varsity cheerleading captain for three years. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Parskide my first year of college and then transfered to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater after deciding I wanted to study Education with a license in Special Education. I was on the Co-Ed Cheer and Stunt team at UW-Whitewater for two football seasons and then co-created the UWW Special Olympics College Organization. I graduated cum laude from UW-Whitewater in the Spring of 2018 and just completed my first year of teaching at J.I Case High School in Racine, the high school I attended! I love working at my high school, and I will deeply miss my students and co-workers during my time off to be Miss Wisconsin, but I’m also so excited to come back and visit!
The most common question I am asked is, “Oh you must have started competing in pageants when you were little, right?” Actually the opposite is true for me. I didn’t start competing in pageants until I was a freshman in college. In 2012, a friend, high school classmate and Miss Racine 2012 encouraged me to compete for Miss Racine. That friend, Paula Mae Kuiper, became Miss Wisconsin 2013 and a Top 12 Finalist at Miss America. I thank her for encouraging me to be a part of an organization that eventually changed my life forever. I competed for Miss Racine in 2013 and honestly had no clue what I was doing AT ALL. I sang “A Dream is a Wish” for my talent, and let’s just say I have NEVER been a singer and should never try to be one. I did not win, but I decided to continue on. I competed for Miss Kenosha and Miss Southern Lakes, and I did not win either of those titles. That year, not only did I learn that I should not sing, but I also learned that I really did love the Miss America Organization and what it stood for. This organization helped me to figure out what my purpose was and what my career would be – teaching those with disabilities.
I caught the competition bug, and I will thank the Miss Racine Organization for that as they helped me to become the person I am today and saw so much potential in me. I came back in 2014 to compete for my hometown title of Miss Racine. I had worked very hard that summer and fall to prepare for Miss Racine. I changed my talent to tap dancing (best decision), did mock interviews, and practiced my walk, but I did not win nor did I not place at all. I was disappointed, but I wasn’t going to give up so I competed for Miss Burlington Area Chocolatefest. In all seriousness, how cute is that title name?! I worked hard and was named first-runner up! I was so excited of how well I did. That fueled my fire once again. In the fall of 2015 I started working very hard again, and I can not thank all of the amazing volunteers that helped me prepare (Shayna, BJ, Dave, Caitlin, Debra, Ken, Lee Ann, Sha-Nita, Jason, Paula, and so many more) because I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and love. I wanted to win Miss Racine so badly. I wanted to represent my hometown more than anything, because I had seen so many Miss Racine’s feel so loved and supported by our community. I wanted to give back to my community and represent them at Miss Wisconsin. Competition day came and my interview went great, talent was the best I had ever done and everything else just fell into place. It came time for crowning, and I was a nervous wreck. They called the first-runner up and it was not me and then called “Your Miss Racine 2015 is……Alyssa Bohm.” I dropped with emotions and the only thing I could think of was, “I did it, I get to represent my city.” Being Miss Racine was unforgettable and still to this day people ask me around town “were you Miss Racine?” It’s such an honor to be apart the Miss Racine sisterhood. After my year as Miss Racine I wanted to continue to persue the dream of becoming Miss Wisconsin. When I was Miss Racine, I went to Miss Wisconsin to truly just have fun. I definitely did that and made so many lifelong friendships, but now I wanted to not only make new friends but become a state representative.
In 2016, I competed in four local competitions and did not win or place as a runner-up and did not go back to Miss Wisconsin. That year was very difficult and discouraging; I wanted to give up at some point, but realized that the experience was needed for me to grow and mature. I came back in 2017 ready to go, feeling so ready to compete. It was a bumpy at that; I competed in five locals that year and placed first runner-up in two of those. I was feeling defeated again and my family was even ready to hang up their hats. However, on that fifth try, it was my turn. I competed for Miss Harbor Cities 2017 and won. I filled with more emotions than ever before knowing how hard I had worked and how much disappointment I went through prior to that moment. Again, I had another amazing year with an even more amazing team of directors. I did not make the Top 10 at Miss Wisconsin, but felt so great about my performance and how much I grew as a young adult. After my year as Miss Harbor Cities, I competed again in the Miss Wisconsin Sweeps Competition, which provides women an opportunity to go back to state, and after state is over, your title ends as well. Sweeps is the last competition of the season, so I knew how much was at stake if I wanted to go back to Miss Wisconsin. 20 girls were competing for five sweeps titles; it’s essentially a mini Miss Wisconsin competition. I had worked so hard on every area of competition and also grew into a new maturity level, because I was working 30 hours a week at a restaurant, was a full-time student and was completing 20 hours of teaching. I was named Miss Great Lakes 2018, and I couldn’t have felt more proud to represent myself and so many others at Miss Wisconsin. I had an amazing three months serving as Miss Great Lakes and working with my longtime friends and Miss Racine family again. At Miss Wisconsin, I placed in the Top 11 for the first time ever and felt so accomplished! I had the time of my life being in the Top 11. All I wanted that year was to be recognized for my hard work and make all those who had helped me over the years proud!
My Great Lakes title ended after Miss Wisconsin in June, and I was looking for jobs as I had graduated in the spring of 2018. I received a job at Case and the Miss America Organization was transitioning into the 2.0 era, where swimsuit was being eliminated, scoring was being altered and the overall mission was evolving. I contemplated for a very long time about competing again as it would be my last year of eligibility. I was busy with my new job and transitioning into being an actual adult – scary I know. I decided I wanted to compete one last time despite the Miss America changes, because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t at least give it a chance. My family was not supportive at first of me wanting to compete, and they felt I would not do well with the new scoring and changes. My family knows that when I set my mind to something I do it 100%. They finally came around and supported me in following my dreams of becoming Miss Wisconsin 2019. I competed in the Miss South Central and Miss Rock River Valley competition. Sha-Nita Rhea is the Executive Director of the organization, and she was also one of the many ladies that volunteered her time to help me back in 2014 when I started competing. On January 5, 2019 I won the title of Miss Rock River Valley and also won the overall swimsuit award – the last swimsuit award and time I would be competing in swimsuit – something I had always wanted to win. I also gained a new sister queen, Susan Fochs, Miss South Central 2019. I worked very hard to prepare for Miss Wisconsin while also balancing a full time teaching job, part time bartending job, being on the Special Olympics Wisconsin Board of Directors, advisor of the Case High Special Olympics Unified Club and being Miss Rock River Valley. Like I said, I prepared very hard for Miss Wisconsin but not as hard as I did in the past which at some times I felt guilty that I was only doing one mock interview a day or would skip a couple days at the gym, but I truly needed to relax this time. I had been competing for years at this point and was one of four girls aging out. I was also the only one who was going back for their fourth time in the 2019 class. I had matured so much over the years and realized that I had already accomplished so much in my life and will continue to do great things with my social impact and career, that no matter what happens at Miss Wisconsin I will knew I was worthy of this job and that I was fully ready for the job because of the experiences I had leading up to this moment.
During Miss Wisconsin I was very calm and focused my attention on just enjoying my last year of competing, even though it never hit me because I was just having too much fun with all of the girls. Every phase of competition I went out there and gave it my all, especially in my interview. I had never been so vulnerable before in an interview until that moment and it felt so good. I told the judges about my struggles in all aspects of my life and what I did to overcome them. I showed them how ready I was for the job and my professional skills I possessed to handle the responsibilities of the position. Most importantly I shared the experiences I had the past year as a public school teacher that helped me to see life in a different lens. Everything I did that week was truly me. Saturday came and the nerves started to take over the whole afternoon. When my name was called into the Top 11 and I felt so good about answering my on-stage question, I knew I truly had a shot at winning. I continued to not stress about each phase of competion and not allow negative vibes get in my way. Waiting for the Top 5 to be called was when I told myself “you killed it all week whatever happens, you will do great things.” When I heard my name called I couldn’t believe it; I had never broken into the Top 5, and I now was even closer to the job of a lifetime. Then it came time for the “Final Conversation.” I was called to the microphone and answer my question with my full heart. I said things that I was longing to tell the judges, audience and our society because I am so paasionate about helping others with disabilties and being a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. I wanted to make my family, friends, students, co-workers, and community proud, and I felt that I did that in my conversation.
Once that was over, it was time to let things happen the way they were supposed to. The final five were holding hands, and I felt so great to be one of them. And it began….. “Your fourth runner-up is, Miss Oshkosh Katrina Mazier. Your third runner-up is, Miss Wisconsin Rapids Danielle Moon.” At this point I was thinking “no way am I still standing here!!” David then said “Your second runner-up is Miss Southern Lakes, Elise O’Connell.” I LOST IT AT THIS POINT. Tears were already rolling down my face holding Maddie’s hands; we both were in literal shock. I continued to cry and sweet Maddie whispers to me “You’re going to be a great Miss Wisconsin,” and I whispered back “no, no, no way you are.” I truly did believe that I would not win because of my long run of being a runner-up many times before. David then said “You’re first runner-up IS MISS ONALASKA.” I couldn’t believe it and had an out of body experience. I kept thinking, “I did it! I actually did it! They believed in me!” Everything after that was a dream come true. Having Tianna place the Miss Wisconsin crown on my head and my new sister queen Savannah wrap the sash around me felt unreal. Hugging my parents, friends and directors at the end of the runway was the highlight of the crowning. I will truly never stop having chills over that magical moment.
I promise this long blog post is almost over, but what I want to leave you with is DO NOT GIVE UP! Over a six year time span I competed in 17 locals, won four locals and made it in the Top 10 twice and Top 5 once. Do not ever give up on your dreams, no matter what they may be. There were plenty of times I wanted to give up and move on with my life. There were plenty of times that my family and friends would said, “why do you keep doing it.” I will tell you why I continued: because I love this organization and the community service aspect of the organization. I would not be the young, successful, talented, professional woman that I am today without this organization. I had a teacher in 7th grade that told me I would never gradaute from college, let allow get into a 4-year university due to my low mathematic skills. I can proudly say that I graduated college with honors, was on the Dean’s List for three years in a row and currently teach algebra to freshman. Do not ever let others dictate your future because you have the power to make anything possible. Anything is possible with hard work, dedication and a positive mindset. My year as Miss Wisconsin 2019 has been filled with memories, hard times, stressful moments, and lots of love.
Miss Wisconsin 2019