A counselor changed Mandy Peterson’s life. Now she’s made it her mission to pay it forward.
Peterson, who once struggled with depression and is a suicide-attempt survivor, is currently a full-time college student working toward a Masters in Psychology with hopes of becoming a counselor.
But the 28-year-old, who moved to Monticello in November of 2015, isn’t stopping there.
With the aim to hold a bigger platform and have a longer reach, Peterson is getting set to represent Monticello at the Miss Minnesota United States Pageant this weekend.
She’ll be running on the platform of “Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Depression.”
Peterson said that platform, and the potential to reach so many, is a big part of what made her decide to run for Miss Minnesota.
“It was actually a huge factor,” she said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to tell my personal story and shed light on something so many struggle with.”
This will be the fourth pageant for Peterson, who grew up in Cambridge but lived in Chicago most recently. She ran in the USA system three times – making the semifinals several times and finishing as runner-up and Miss Congeniality once.
This time around, it will be a new pageant system and she’ll be coming from a still relatively new-to-her town.
Peterson said it will be an honor to represent Monticello.
“Being in Monticello for just over a year, I have never felt more of a part of a community. Every single person has welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “To represent a city like that is really special.”
In addition to being a full-time online student at American Public University, Peterson works full-time as a Trade Activation Manager for Anheuser Busch.
In Chicago, she worked as a hair-dresser, which she likened to being a part-time psychologist based on the relationships she developed with clients. But she recently decided that full-time counseling was her true passion, and is now working hard to pursue a future either in a school setting or at an inpatient facility for teenagers.
“I personally did struggle with depression, so I have personal ties to those that are struggling,” Peterson said. “The counselor I saw really changed my life. I’m hoping I can impact somebody’s life the way she did for me.”
If Peterson wins on Saturday, she’ll get the chance to impact a whole lot of people, both in the local community and across the state, and potentially the country.
“If I were to be crowned, it would be truly humbling, and a huge honor,” said Peterson.
The 2017 Minnesota United States Pageant will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd, MN. There are four areas of competition, with each accounting for 25 percent of the overall score.
First is a behind-the-scenes interview, which Peterson said is mostly about the candidate, who they are, and what they want to do. Next are the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the evening, and last is the on-stage question.
To be a Miss Minnesota candidate, one must be a resident of, go to school full-time or work full-time in the state of Minnesota, and be between the ages of 20 and 29 years old.
Tickets for the event, which is a preliminary competition to the United States National Pageants, Inc., are available online or at the door.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]