Brainerd native Serena Schreifels was named Miss Minnesota International Saturday in the 2017 Miss Minnesota International pageant in St. Paul.
Schreifels, 20, entered the competition as Miss Brainerd International. Schreifels, the daughter of Julie and Troy Schreifels of Brainerd, graduated from Brainerd High School in 2015. She currently is a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College studying film.
"I was extremely excited," Schreifels said on winning the title. "And I still am. My legs were shaking the whole time they were trying to put the crown on my head. I love Minnesota and at that moment I thought how proud I was to represent this state. My platform for my reign is 'Make It Okay, Mental Health Awareness.'"
"My platform is the story of my life," Schreifels states on her website. "As a child, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. A person's mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support. Mental illness is a disorder, not a decision.
"As Miss International, I will continue sharing my story; turning my struggle into my greatest achievement. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is talking about it. It's time to change the conversation and end the stigma of mental illness. Let's end the silence together and make it okay."
Schreifels was sponsored by David Marusak from Kinetico and Dr. Grace Shin from Clearwater Dental.
Schreifels is not new to the pageant circuits. She was Miss Heart of the North and was Miss Teen Brainerd in the Minnesota United States Pageant.
The Miss International Pageant System has been developed to promote today's young women and their accomplishments, it states on their website. The focus behind Miss International is to showcase single women, who are 19 to 30 years old by July 1 of competition year, and are a resident of the state or a citizen of the country that they represent. Each contestant competes in an interview competition which is valued at 40 percent of their total score; evening gown, valued for 20 percent; fitness wear for 20 percent; and fun fashion wear 20 percent. Each contestant has the opportunity to select a platform of her choice, that she spends the year promoting.