Mitchell native does well in first Miss SD PageantTessa Dee wins Ray Peterson Rookie of Year Scholarship.
By: Emma DeJong, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell native earned third-runner-up and was named Rookie of the Year at the Miss South Dakota Pageant this past weekend.
Tessa Dee, 20, was one of 15 women who competed for the Miss South Dakota title in Hot Springs.
It was held Thursday through Saturday.
“It was a great experience,” Dee said. “It helped me grow into a much more confident person who isn’t afraid to get up and talk in front of hundreds of people.”
After winning the Miss Rolling Plains title at a competition in Harrisburg, Dee qualified for the state pageant.
Because she earned a title in her first year of the state pageant, she won the Ray Peterson Rookie of the Year $500 scholarship.
Kristi Richter, executive director of the pageant, said volunteer work is a key element the judges look for in the contestants.
“What’s so impressive with Tessa is she, a first-year contestant, has already done all that,” Richter said. Richter is referring to Project Bookworm, a children’s literacy program Dee created, which she used for her platform.
“Reading has always been a huge part of my life,” she said. “It was just a no-brainer to pick children’s literacy to advocate.”
Dee said the program has been “really successful.” Project Bookworm’s main program is called Build a Book, which involves Dee visiting children in the classroom, reading to them and helping them create their own books.
In the pageant Dee’s talent was a gymnastics dance.
“I’ve been in gymnastics my entire life,” she said. “It was really fun to perform again, just on a different stage.”
Dee is a senior health science major in the pre-physical therapy program at the University of South Dakota, but she will have more than schoolwork on her mind over the coming year. And Richter couldn’t be happier.
“The good news is she tells me she’s going to come back next year,” she said.