From Cap and Gown to Crown: Sydney Helgeson’s Path to Miss America


2023 Culverhouse graduate Sydney Helgeson garnered well-deserved attention for her outstanding academic achievements at the Capstone. Majoring in management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and double minoring in music and sales, Helgeson demonstrated her commitment to diverse fields of study, earning her the J. Craig Smith Integrity award exemplifying strong character, clear signs of rigorous ethical thinking, and a commitment to advancing the quality of life in the wider community. However, her accomplishments did not end there. Alongside her academic success, Helgeson also secured the prestigious title of Miss North Dakota 2023, a testament to her unwavering dedication to making a positive impact on society.

Helgeson’s passion for pageantry grew over the years, and the Miss America Organization held a special place in her heart. She drew inspiration from her grandmother, a former contestant who secured the first runner-up position in Miss North Dakota back in 1961. Pageantry has been an integral part of Helgeson’s life since an early age.

Starting in the youth program at age 11, Helgeson initially found the competition to be an exciting platform to showcase her piano skills. However, as she evolved into a singer, the experience became even more rewarding. Beyond the thrill of performing, what truly captivated her were the exceptional scholarship opportunities it offered and the supportive sisterhood it fostered. Little did she know then that this journey would lead to lasting friendships and open doors to higher education through its invaluable scholarships.

Helgeson’s own experience as Miss North Dakota’s Teen in 2017 further motivated her pursuit of the Miss America crown. It was during her tenure that she witnessed Miss North Dakota Cara Mund achieve the coveted Miss America title, which served as a meaningful and aspirational goal for her own journey.

“I had the opportunity to serve as Miss North Dakota’s Teen 2017 and through the partnership between the University of Alabama and the Miss America’s Teen Organization, the University of Alabama actually provided full tuition, four-year scholarships to all 50 of the state teen title holders,” Helgeson said.“And so, because I had that opportunity, I was able to attend the University of Alabama tuition-free, which was something that was really important to me and made attending the university a reality.”

The recent Culverhouse graduate and Miss America contestant shared insights about her journey and how her business school education played a crucial role in her success within the pageant. Particularly, coursework and conversations around interview preparation proved priceless.

“Miss North Dakota is a job, and so I competed in the interview phase of competition, just like applying for any other job. And so mastering my interview and communication skills have been really helpful. Another great program that I was involved with was the sales program. I took a class called personal selling, and so it really helped me figure out how I wanted to sell myself and develop my personal branding to really set myself up for success and show the judges that I was ready for this job.”

Emphasizing the empowerment of women, she highlighted the Miss America Organization’s role in encouraging leadership and education, which she believes directly translates to the business world. As she steps into the spotlight, Helgeson is eager to inspire other young women to follow similar career paths, both in business and service with the Miss America Organization.

Helgeson’s passionate effort to foster positive change within her community extends to her work in Alabama. Taking the lead in the “Live United: Building Stronger Communities Together” initiative, she collaborates with United Way affiliates across both North Dakota and Alabama, aiming to make a lasting impact. Her journey began with active involvement in the “Day of Caring” during high school, where she recognized the transformative power of community service. Continuing her commitment, she interned with United Way during college, witnessing firsthand the remarkable influence the organization had on her community. These experiences have motivated Helgeson to become a fervent advocate for “Live United,” encouraging others in Alabama and beyond to join her in volunteering, supporting, and advocating for stronger and more vibrant communities.

“I think it’s really important for young people, our generation, to get involved in their community and give back. I think we all play a vital role in our communities and that was one thing that at UA I really got to experience, whether that was getting involved in the community service and philanthropy roles in the organizations or within my sorority.,” she said.

As Miss North Dakota, Helgeson’s passion for service and education is at the forefront. Through her community service initiative, she delves into Alabama’s diverse communities, getting to know the people and the unique issues they face. With a strong drive to drive positive change, she actively seeks solutionsto build up these communities. Helgeson’s dedication goes beyond her state title; she also aims to be a proud ambassador for the Miss America Organization, encouraging young women to seize the opportunity to compete. Emphasizing the organization’s exceptional scholarship offerings and the chance to further their education, she advocates for this transformative path to personal and academic growth. By combining her commitment to service and education, Helgeson leaves a powerful legacy that empowers others across the nation to reach for their dreams and contribute to their communities’ betterment.

Authored by

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Zach thomas

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