WILLISTON, N.D. -- When Katie Olson heard her name announced Saturday night as Miss North Dakota 2018, she almost didn’t believe it at first.
“I turned to Lizzie Jensen, Miss North Dakota 2017, and asked, ‘Is it real?’” Olson recalled Monday, June 11. “She said, ‘Yes, turn around so I can put your crown on!’”
Less than 48 hours after she won the crown, it was starting to feel less like a dream and more like reality.
“Every day it seeps in a little bit more,” Olson, 20, of Williston, said of her new title.
She is the first Williston resident to be named Miss North Dakota in more than 20 years and only the fourth since 1955.
Olson, an elementary education major at North Dakota State University, said it’s kind of a dream for her to speak with so many students. She’s excited to share her platform with them, “The Motivation Mindset: Positivity at Every Turn.”
The next several weeks will be filled with paperwork as she gets things in order for the Miss America competition in September. She has two weeks to submit her platform statement and her resume, as well as let the national organization know what she’ll be performing to for her talent.
Olson said she’s looking forward to competing for Miss America - understandable, since she’ll get to be there with Cara Mund, Miss America 2018, the state’s first winner.
“It’s worth any of the stress that comes with it,” she said.
More than that, though, she’s looking forward to one of Miss North Dakota’s biggest duties: visiting schools statewide.
Her goal is to help students understand how to think of stressful situations not as a threat, but as a welcome challenge. The point isn’t to ignore negativity, she said.
“It’s being able to choose happiness and realize we have a choice in how we react to things,” she said.
It’s a lesson she’s learned herself. When she started school at NDSU, she joined the school’s dance team and realized that she had a negative mindset much of the time.
“I very quickly assumed that I couldn’t do things before I tried,” she said.
She also saw that attitude in some of her young dance students. She saw them give up before they’d really even tried.
“When they put their minds to something, they can do anything,” she said. “It truly is all in your mindset.”
She was previously crowned Miss Fargo 2018.
She thinks her attitude helped her win the Miss North Dakota title.
Her relationship with the pageant started more than a decade ago, when she was in the Miss North Dakota Little Sisters program. Her big sister was Katie Ralston, who would go on to win Miss North Dakota a few years later.
She watched the pageant every year and eventually became a Miss North Dakota dancer. People suggested she should compete, but she thought she’d be involved in other ways.
Then, last year, she decided to try it.
“I threw all my nerves aside and it went wonderfully,” she said.
She was second runner-up last year, and that made her want the title even more.
“I came back with the mindset that I really wanted this job,” she said.
And now, she has it.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “It still feels like a dream sometimes.”