TCU student, family reflect on Miss America journey

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    For some, it takes countless pageants and many years to make it to the Miss America stage. For Shelby Ringdahl, it took just two years and four pageants.

    Ringdahl, who is currently taking a leave of absense from TCU for her "year of service," was crowned Miss Missouri in June. She represented her home state in the 2014 Miss America pageant on Sept. 15. 

    Ringdahl, who plans to resume her studies as a senior musical theater major, said close to 70 people from Missouri were present in the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall as she made her grand appearance.

    Erika Ringdahl, Shelby's mother, said she was pleased with the turnout at the pageant.

    “The most amazing thing is the support Shelby, as an individual, was able to drum up,” she said.

    People from the organizations she is involved in were there to support her, and even TCU head football coach Gary Patterson texted her to wish her luck, Ringdahl’s mother said.

    On Sept. 2, Ringdahl said she flew to Atlantic City, where she and the rest of the contestants began two weeks of preparations for the big night.

    During those two weeks, the women had, on average, only five hours a night to sleep, Ringdahl said.

    The first three days were spent in rehearsal for the opening number called ‘The Parade of States,’ she said.

    Throughout the first week, Ringdahl said she did interviews, photo shoots and voiceovers and participated in events around Atlantic City.

    When the second week rolled around, preliminaries began.

    “Live television has to have everything perfectly timed,” she said. "The moment you take that stage, you have to know what cameras to look at and when to look at them."

    Ringdahl said the other contestants were “inspiring.”

    While there, Rindgdahl said she made lasting friendships with the other Miss America contenders.

    Ringdahl said her goal for the Miss America pageant was to make the top 15 because a Miss Missouri contestant had not made it there for the past ten years.

    Ringdahl surpassed her goal by making it to the top 12.

    Bruce Ringdahl, Shelby's father, said he was a proud dad.

    "Her poise and grace were nothing short of exemplary,” he said.

    During the evening gown portion of the pageant, names were mixed up, and Ringdahl was announced as Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones. Ringdahl's father said he was "impressed with her composure and discipline" when it happened.

    Travel is in the future for Ringdahl, since her reign as Miss Missouri will last for eight more months.

    She has traveled over six thousand miles so far, but she said she wants to reach over 50,000 miles and 300 appearances by the end of her term.

    Although Ringdahl was not crowned Miss America, she said she learned a valuable lesson through the pageant process.

    “How people perceive you as a person is what’s most important at the end of the day,” Ringdahl said.