Sets sights on combating Third World poverty
Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A Montana State University- Northern student, Karissa Hanson, 22, from Melstone will be competing in the Miss Montana Scholarship Program, a state beauty pageant that begins on June 14. The competition will be held in Glendive and the winner will go on to represent the state of Montana in the national Miss America Beauty Pageant. Hanson is a nursing student at MSU-N who dedicates her summers to an orphanage in Haiti, a third world country located south of Florida. “I have just always wanted to work in an orphanage, ever since I was 10 or 12,” Hanson said. “I just decided finally that I was going to go and found an orphanage online, made arrangements and went.” Hanson first traveled to Haiti in the Summer of 2005 for six weeks and again in the Spring of 2006 for three months. “It was obviously poverty-stricken with the annual income of $200 a year,” Hanson said. “There’s tons of homelessness and a lot of HIV. As volunteers, we pretty much just played with kids we were there to love them. We even took care of premature babies, ones that were sick and needed extra care. The first time I was there, we cared for a baby that was 2 pounds and the second time, one that weighed 3 pounds. It made me realize how much I took for granted all that I have.” Hanson’s entry into the beauty competition was spurred by her grandmother from Corvallis, Astrid Morris, who decided her granddaughter had everything it took to win Miss Montana the looks, the talent and the platform, if not great height. It took some convincing from Hanson’s sister, Amber Gilbe of Havre, but soon, plans were underway and Hanson was entered into the state competition to vie for the Miss Montana crown, which includes a guaranteed $600 scholarship for each contestant and chances to earn additional money. Hanson attended a workshop in Billings this past weekend to learn the details involved in competing in the beauty and scholarship program. She will travel to Glendive for Pageant Week June 10 through 17. The beauty competition begins on June 14 with a theme “On the Town.” The first afternoon will be spent meeting the host families who will house the women for the week. Contestants will also participate in an introductory “tea party.” The preliminary competition will take place Thursday and Friday. The top 10 finalists will go to the final competition, where one will be awarded the crown on Saturday night. Fun excursions are planned for the week including activities with a “little sister,” second grade students that each contestant will spend time mentoring during the competition. Miss Montana contestants are also allowed to choose their own clothing. Hanson said she will wear an evening gown purchased from Blushing Brides of Havre and a swimsuit while participating in the event, and a business suit to attend event functions. “I want to use this opportunity in the Miss Montana scholarship program to promote the cause of fighting poverty in Third World countries,” Hanson said. “Having been to Haiti, and seeing the poverty and hopelessness there, I want to go back and help change that. While I am still here in the States, I want to help raise awareness for the poverty in Haiti. My plan is to go back as a nurse and to eventually open an orphanage with health care access.” Hanson’s parents are David and Lark Hanson of Melstone.