Hudson's Shelby Hohneke named 2018 National American Miss Jr. Teen Wisconsin
Shelby Hohneke grew up a tomboy.
"I just was raised rolling in mud with my brothers," she said.
Then one day, she got a package in the mail, asking her to audition for a pageant through the National American Miss (NAM) program.
"It has just taught me so many life lessons," Hohneke said. "It's just an amazing experience that every young girl, every adult girl, should experience."
Hohneke was crowned 2018 National American Miss Jr. Teen Wisconsin last month. That's her third National American Miss title.
This also makes Hohneke eligible to compete in the national competition put on by National American Miss.
Hohneke said her time spent competing in NAM competitions has earned her more than crowns. She's gained confidence.
"This past year at school, I was bullied severely," she said. "I wasn't super confident."
She said the NAM program has taught her to be confident in herself, and not care what other people think of her.
Now, she said, she can walk into school, or a dance audition, and feel confident in herself.
Hohneke does "all kinds" of dance, including hip-hop, tap and jazz.
At the pageant in July, Hohneke did a tap dance.
"It was an amazing experience," she said. "I did a cartwheel with no hands in tap shoes."
Dance is a big part of Hohneke life. She started dancing very young.
"I've grown up practically going to my grandma's house, every weekend and my aunt would turn on Just Dance," she said.
Hohneke now volunteers at Darby's Dancers, a nonprofit that teachers kids with disabilities to dance. Hohneke's platform for the NAM competition is advocating for kids with disabilities. Every NAM competitor has a platform, something for which she advocates.
"Kids with disabilities are equally the same as anybody else, and they shouldn't be judged or criticized because they have a disability," Hohneke said. "I know because I've grown up in a house with somebody that has a disability. She does everything herself. She loves to dance, she cooks for herself, cleans for herself, she gets herself ready every day."
Hohneke said her aunt, who shares her love of dancing, has Down Syndrome.
Hohneke loves volunteering for Darby's Dancers and helping teach kids to dance.
Confidence is just one of many things Hohneke has gained from NAM. She said she's also gained lifelong friendships, including her best friend Marissa, the Miss Minnesota Junior Pre Teen 2015.
"We are so close, we hang out almost every weekend," Hohneke said. "I'm friends with a ton of girls around the country because of the program and I talk to them almost every day."
Hohneke said it's "amazing" that she can be so close and find so much she relates to with so many girls from all over the country.
Hohneke took a week off after winning 2018 Miss Junior Teen Wisconsin. Now, she's back at work, training hard for the national competition, set for Thanksgiving weekend in Anaheim, California.
She said she'd really like to bring a Miss USA title to Wisconsin.
A freshman at Hudson High School, Hohneke said she's already got an idea what she'd like to do after graduation. She'd like to study dance at Julliard.
To other girls who might be thinking about entering a pageant, Hohneke said, "just be the best you can be."
"Don't worry about what anybody else is doing," she said. "Just being yourself, showing what your personality is , and not trying to put on a mask or something. I think it's important to just be the best you can be."
She said she'd tell other girls struggling with anything from confidence to school sports, "you can do it."
"You are beautiful internally and externally and you are amazing," Hohneke said. "I think just be confident in yourself and you can make it far places (in) sports, dance, anything that you do.
"If you're walking into it with confidence, you can achieve it."