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Area competitor crowned as Miss ND’s Teen 2024

Submitted Photo Tayler Christianson was crowned Miss North Dakota’s Teen 2024 on June 9. She will advance in the Miss America pageant system and will compete in Orlando, Fla., for the Miss America’s Teen title in January 2025.

The danger of drunk driving is a personal issue for Tayler Christianson, and she intends to use her year as Miss North Dakota’s Teen 2024 to serve as a role model and advocate for sober driving.

On June 9, Christianson, of Burlington, earned the title of Miss North Dakota’s Teen and will advance to the Miss America’s Teen competition in Orlando, Florida, in January 2025.

Christianson’s Community Service Initiative honors her best friend and classmate at Bishop Ryan High School, who was the victim in a wrong-way head-on collision and suffered extensive injuries due to a drunk driver.

Christianson feels the maximum sentence the driver in the crash faces is too low, considering how extensive her friend’s injuries were. If her friend, Tyanna Weeks, had been killed in the crash, the defendant would face up to a 10-year sentence, but because she survived, the defendant can only be charged with a Class C felony with a maximum sentence of five years.

“I wanted to find a medium, and that’s why Tyanna’s Law would bump anybody that’s harmed by a drunk driver up to a Class B, so the max sentence would change to 10 years instead of five,” Christianson said. The legislation has garnered support from state Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot.

Christianson has known Weeks since she was 2 years old and has visited her in Colorado, where she was receiving treatment for her injuries. During the visit, Christianson became wheelchair and transfer certified so she can travel in public with her friend, who now resides in Omaha, Nebraska, for rehabilitation. Christianson said she hopes her law will be passed while she is still crowned.

Christianson’s life has been affected on three separate occasions by drunk driving, the most recent being the crash involving Weeks. Christianson’s older brother, Sam Christianson, suffered a brain injury when he decided to drink and drive, and last year Christianson’s volleyball coach, Christopher Brewer, was killed on impact when he was hit by a drunk driver.

“I believe North Dakota has an issue. I think everyone in North Dakota can say they know at least one case, whether it’s personally or they’ve heard it across the state, of someone being impacted by drinking and driving, and I think we need to make a change. We’re number one in binge drinking and we’re number four for most DUIs, and it’s sad and I want to make a change,” Christianson said. “I want to be a voice for those who have been impacted.”

Christianson was inspired to compete in pageants by her older sister, Macy Bolinske, who was crowned Miss North Dakota in 2016.

“Watching her up on that stage and her change as a person as well – what that title did for her was incredible, and it got me to compete in pageants. Watching her grow and form these friendships with people as well as grow closer to the organization – they’re incredible. I’m so grateful to know every single person that works in the organization,” she said.

Christianson chose the Miss North Dakota Scholarship Organization because of the sisterhood that develops between competitors.

“It’s not necessarily about competition. It’s about the friendships you make and the people you meet along the way,” she said.

Christianson has been competing for five years and has come close to the state title in the past. She earned first runner up two years ago and fourth runner up last year. She said she felt as if her performance took a step backwards, having earned a lower position, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to compete this year.

“The directors always reminded me that if I work hard and I trusted myself, that if the time is right, it will be me, and I trusted that and I really trusted God as well,” she said. She said competing this year has required a lot of patience and dedication.

Christianson said growing up she was a shy child, and pageantry helped her come out of her shell and develop her public speaking skills. Overall, she said, being involved with the Miss North Dakota Scholarship Organization has benefited many aspects of her life.

“It boosted my confidence. There’s nothing that boosts your confidence more than walking in a beautiful dress onstage with lights. You just glimmer,” she said.

The Miss North Dakota’s Teen title is a preliminary competition on the Miss America pageantry track. One of the distinguishing factors between the Miss North Dakota’s Teen and the Miss North Dakota Teen USA competitions is the first has a talent category and the latter does not.

Christianson has been dancing since she was 3 years old, and she prepared her Esmerelda variation ballet dance for the talent portion of the competition. It earned her top talent during the preliminary rounds, which Christianson said boosted her confidence going into the finals.

She said the most preparation went into getting ready for the private interview, a one-on-one conversation with the judges that can be intimidating. During the interview, the judges asked a lot of questions about Christianson’s Community Service Initiative.“The mindset I had was if I just be myself and show these judges this is who Tayler Christianson is – if they don’t love me for who I am, then I just don’t fit the part and that’s something that I had to accept,” she said.

So far, Christianson has earned around $5,000 in scholarship money.

This fall she will be attending the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, which she chose, she said, because UND has a huge drinking community. She wants to make an impact and be a role model for other students to prioritize sober driving. She will be majoring in political science.

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