×

Miss ND Teen USA wants to use title to be positive role model

Submitted Photo Codi Miller, Miss North Dakota USA 2024, left, and Jaycee Parker, Miss North Dakota Teen USA 2024, right, were crowned on May 12 in Watertown, S.D. The titleholders will advance and compete later this year at the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA national pageants.

Seventeen-year-old Jaycee Parker of Minot Air Force Base wants to use her new title as Miss North Dakota Teen USA to be a relatable, positive role model.

“I feel like I’m letting people know that I’m still a teenager. Yes, I wear a crown and banner. Yes, I compete in pageants. Yes, I’m wearing a $1,000 gown, but none of that matters because at the end of the day, I’m a teenager. I go to the lake and I go have fun with my friends,” she said.

Parker has been competing in pageants since age 6 and now will advance to represent North Dakota on the national stage Aug. 1 during the Miss Teen USA pageant in Hollywood, California.

She will compete for the national title on live television.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve done a lot of prep work. It’s a tough competition. It’s really hard. It’s really scary. You get one show and that’s that. But as long as I’m going out there and doing my best that’s all that’s really important to me because I know I’m going to make myself proud. More important, I want to make North Dakota proud,” she said.

Parker is the daughter of Amanda and Chaplain (Capt.) Jared Parker. She was introduced to pageantry when the mother of a student Amanda Parker was teaching offered to take Jaycee along to a pageant. Jaycee Parker, a poster child for pageantry, was bubbly, energetic and full of personality.

She stuck with pageantry for 11 years and has come close to the Alabama state crown twice in previous competitions, finishing as first runner up when she was 14 and second runner up at 15. Her hard work has culminated in now earning the North Dakota crown at 17.

The Parkers moved to Minot AFB last year from Alabama, which Parker said was a scary transition. She said she was worried about what other people would think of the “new girl” and was afraid she wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet new people because she is homeschooled. Her fears were conquered when she met new friends while competing in a local pageant.

“It’s just so rewarding having that experience because in high school, girls can be mean, really mean. But this group of girls and the way this system works is so nice,” Parker said. She said that even though the pageant girls have known each other for years, they welcomed her with open arms.

Parker said quite a bit of preparation is needed for a pageant, but more work goes into getting mentally ready than physically ready to make sure she puts her best foot forward.

Another aspect of pageantry judges consider is community service. Parker has a platform called Charms for Freedom, which brings awareness to human trafficking. As part of that effort, she creates safety keychains with pull alarms.

She started traveling alone at age 14 so safety has been at the forefront of her concerns. She hopes to eventually partner with Polarius, the No. 1 human trafficking organization hotline.

She also has the opportunity to go to area schools and read and spend time with students. She said some look up to her like she’s a princess.

“It’s so sweet getting to just brighten their day. You don’t really know what’s going on at home and some of these kids don’t really get the opportunity to experience things like that. Just having someone to make them feel special, someone to look up to, it’s really great for them,” she said.

Parker said if she hadn’t decided to compete in the North Dakota pageants she’d be sitting in her room wondering what to do. The sisterhood that comes along with competing has connected her to new, lifelong friends.

Parker has faced her fair share of bullying and wants young onlookers to know the hardships they face today won’t matter 30 years down the road after they’ve moved on and have started families of their own.

“People were saying mean things to me and telling me I shouldn’t compete in North Dakota because I’m not from there – ‘You don’t belong there, that’s not your home.’ North Dakota is my home now. I love it here,” she said.

Through her competitions, Parker has learned a lot about herself, saying, “I’m stronger than I thought I was and that I can do things that I put my mind to. I’m a very hard worker. I have great determination. When I knew I was going to choose pageant and I was going to put my mind to it, I was going to do it, and I feel like that’s a great quality to have, especially because I have a lot of future goals. Whether it’s being a nurse, being in the Air Force, or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, I have a lot of them.”

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *
   

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today