MUSKEGON, MI – Each year, dozens of young women come to the Port City with dreams of winning a sparkly crown and scholarship money, along with a chance to raise awareness for their platform.
Each year, one contestant's dream comes true and she spends the next year as Miss Michigan.
But what happens to the winner after she passes on the crown?
Here's what a few former Miss Michigan title holders told MLive and the Chronicle:
Nicole Blaszczyk: Miss Michigan has 'definitely given me the proper tools for everyday life'
Nicole Blaszczyk won the Miss Michigan title in 2009 and spent the year talking about her platform, "Families facing substance abuse."
She called her year as Miss Michigan "an adventure" and "a four-year college experience all crammed into one."
"Anything can be thrown at you and you wear many different hats," she said. "As Miss Michigan, it's your job to just go into these different situations and just connect."
Blaszczyk she received an unexpected opportunity after passing on the crown.
"Immediately after I gave up my title, I was recruited by the Detroit Tigers," she said, adding that as a baseball fan, it was an "unbelievable opportunity."
Blaszczyk worked in the marketing department, handling social media, she said.
Now, Blaszczyk is in her third week as the assistant athletic director at Wayne State University, where she received a degree in business administration in 2009.
She credits the Miss Michigan competition with helping her get to where she is today.
"It's definitely given me the proper tools to prepare for everyday life," she said.
In particular, it helped her develop her communication and networking skills, she said.
"Miss Michigan kind of gave me that courage and the tools to go up to people and start communicating and just talk to people," she said, calling that ability an "important skill for business."
Blaszczyk said being Miss Michigan doesn't end after taking off the crown.
"You have to continue to live that legacy," she said, referring to organization's stated goals of community service, education and being a role model.
In addition to living that legacy and starting a new job, Blaszczyk said she is also planning a wedding. She said she is hoping to get married next summer.
Kirsten Haglund won Miss Michigan in 2007 and later became Miss America in 2008. She described that time as "life-changing" and said she had "an incredible time."
During her reign, she traveled around the country and spoke about her platform, "Eating Disorders Awareness." She said she visited "Harvard University and little public schools in the middle of nowhere."
After she finished her reign as Miss America, Haglund spent the next two years on a speaking tour in support for foundation she started called the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, which provides financial assistance to help women affected by those disorders pay for treatment, she said.
Today, Haglund is finishing up her undergraduate degree at Emory University, where she is studying political science. She said winning Miss Michigan and Miss America has helped her studies.
"I wouldn't be going to Emory if I didn't have the Miss America Scholarship because I wouldn't have been able to afford it," she said.
In total, Haglund said, she received $65,000 in scholarships.
She also acts as a spokesperson for the Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, a residential treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction and eating disorders in Illinois.
Haglund also said she will be getting married next month.
Pam Eldred won the Miss Michigan title in 1969 and became Miss America in 1970.
At the time, the contest didn't require participants to have a platform, but Eldred said she did a lot of work on behalf of organizations that worked with people with special needs, a cause dear to her heart.
Eldred's sister, she explained, had special needs and many at the time were surprised that Eldred spoke so openly about her.
"I think I was able to reach out and touch people and that maybe I helped bring special needs back into focus," she said of her reign.
Now 64, she called her experience "hectic" and "humbling."
"I was amazed at how many people actually came out and worked so hard to make my year so special for me," she said.
Although she enjoyed the experience, Eldred said she learned an important lesson during her reign.
"Nothing is perfect," she said, explaining that she was homesick while out on the road. She called that realization "the most important thing that anyone can learn in life."
"It just taught me at a very young age that there's give and take," Eldred said.
Despite that hard-earned lesson, Eldred said she had a great time as Miss Michigan and Miss America.
"I loved learning about my state," she said about her time as the state title holder. "And I took great pride in winning Miss America because I represented my home state of Michigan."
She said she also enjoyed meeting different people and all the traveling her position required.
After she passed on the title, Eldred said she returned to school and received a degree in speech and drama from Mercy College of Detroit – now the University of Detroit Mercy – in 1971.
She also continued to make appearances with Miss America and traveled throughout the country, South Korea and Vietnam before settling down and having a daughter.
Eldred also received a cosmetology and electrolysis license and became an image consultant and started her own business. For the past 11 years, she also authored a biweekly "self-improvement" column for the Oakland Press.
This year, she decided to present a $2,000 scholarship for Miss Michigan contestants who "are working toward making life easier for individuals with special needs."
Eldred also said she has recently retired and now splits her time between Michigan and Florida.
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