Making a stop in El Dorado for a mock interview, Miss Kansas Hannah Klaassen is preparing herself for the Miss America Competition on Sept. 9.
Klaassen, an Arkansas City resident, visited the Kiwanis Club for a mock interview Thursday afternoon then worked on her talent, tap dancing, at Butler Community College.
Klaassen was crowned Miss Kansas June 9 and has been on a whirlwind schedule since then.
“I really never know who is going to book me or what they are going to want me to do,” Klaassen said. “The people who book me get to decide what kind of outfit they want me to wear, what they want me to say ... That’s fun. Everyday is completely different.”
Among the bookings for Klaassen are visits to children and the mentally ill.
“I get to visit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” Klaassen said. “ I’ve visited a lot of mental health centers throughout Kansas because that relates to my platform.”
A sophomore at Tabor College in Hillsboro majoring in Psychology, Klaassen is taking some time off to focus on the Miss America competition.
“A lot of this summer has just been prep for Miss America,” Klaassen said. “The job of Miss Kansas from now until Miss America will be a lot different, depending on if I win or not, in September and the rest of year.”
Klaassen started in competitions in high school after some prodding from a friend who had won the Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen competition.
In her last year of eligibility, Klaassen finished in the top 10 of the Miss Kansas Teen.
“I had joined really late,” Klaassen said. “About two months before the pageant so I wasn’t very prepared for it.”
After her first and only pageant, Klaassen took a break from competition and returned for the Miss Kansas competition for 2018.
“I had aged out of teen and didn’t really want to compete against the older girls in Miss,” Klaassen said. “I waited a few years, got a platform I was really passionate about and joined this year again for the first time.”
Her platform as Miss Kansas and for the Miss America competition is “Mind Matters”.
“The Mind Matters is about mental health and wellness and how mental health is just as important as your physical health,” Klaassen said. “My platform really helps to learn what resources are available when they are struggling mentally. It works to let them know how to get help, how to identify mental illness and how to help people when they are in crisis.”
Serving as Miss Kansas will help Klaassen pursue her degree in psychology at Tabor.
“When I go back my school should all be paid for with scholarship money,” Klaassen said.
The new found fame as Miss Kansas is a change from how she grew up as a small town Kansas girl.
“It is a lot different,” Klaassen said. “I’ve had people recognize me at Panera Bread. Someone has come up to me and said ‘Miss Kansas’.”
Her day to day wardrobe and mode of transportation has also been affected.
“Most of the time when I go out for appearances I’m dressed in a certain way that is more professional. The dresses and the heels. It looks a lot different than the people just going about their daily lives. More people notice me. My car is labeled with Miss Kansas, so that turns a few heads driving down the highway.”
The crown and sash usually draws attention as well.
“A lot of times kids will look at me and point and talk to their parents ... ” Klaassen said. “ ... I’ve gotten to take a lot of pictures with people in the airport.”
There have been some changes to the rules and format for Miss America. Klaassen has already attended orientation in Orlando, Fla. and is getting ready for the private interview. During the competition there will now be more than one question for each contestant.
“It will be more of an on stage interview,” Klaassen said. “It’s an interaction between the contestant and the judges. If I made finals it would kind of an interview between me and the other finalists and the judges.”
Contestants will also get to talk about their platforms on stage during the competition.
“Just really honing in on what you want to say, what you’re passionate about,” Klaassen said. “Having that 15 seconds of why me, why this platform.”
Klaassen is excited yet nervous a few weeks away from the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.
“As soon as I get to Atlantic City its whatever I’ve done up to this point, that will be preparation and we’ll see what happens,” Klaassen said.
The Miss America competition will be broadcast live from Atlantic City at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. Central time on ABC.