I first met Hailey when we became sorority sisters back a few years ago at UMD, from there we both transferred to different Universities and I continued to follow her story. She continues to amaze me everyday through every post and journey being a rock star role model for all ages. Here is her story…
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota where everyone knew everything, but there were those certain things that we do not talk about publicly. One of these was mental health. I worked at our small town cafe for four years, was involved in just about every club at school along with dance team and band.
My sophomore year of high school, we were required to take the second section of health. This is when I learned about what suicide was and the warning signs. Honestly, I did not really pay attention when I was reading because I NEVER thought this would happen to me. Fast forward two months to May, and my father took his own life. He was a police officer, a large community figure, very involved in our church, among many other things. No one saw this coming. My mom, brothers, and I didn’t see this coming.
Because I felt so unaware and uneducated on suicide, I decided to take my summer and research more information. I found out a lot, such as, the warning signs of suicide, how many people actually take their lives, and stories from people who have lost their loved ones to suicide. I got all of my information from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and still continue to use this website as my main resource.
During this time, I was also Miss Frazee’s Outstanding Teen. This is a preliminary pageant for Miss Minnesota’s Outstanding Teen and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. We were required to have a platform and mine was “Locks of Love: I Donated, Will You?”
After all of my research, I decided what better way to be a voice for mental health and bring light to something that is not talked about than to make it my platform. I decided to call it “Operation: Save a Life” and raise awareness to bullying, depression, and suicide. I was the first one in the state of Minnesota to have platform on mental health awareness. Being only 17 years old and had only lost my dad 4 months prior, I received a lot of backlash. I was told I was “too young to talk about this topic” and “this is not something we talk about here.” I felt so defeated even before starting, but I knew it was something I had to do.
I decided to go to college for teaching as that is what I wanted to be since third grade. However, I was Miss Perham and became very involved in my platform. Because of this, I was working with so many social workers in my community that I realized I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. I changed my major to social work and transferred colleges.
I finished my reign as Miss Perham and took a year off of competing in pageants. I was still asked to speak at many events and share my story without a crown. I became Miss Northwest in 2016 which is located in Detroit Lakes, MN and is right next to my hometown. This is where my dad was a police officer. Everyone was very willing to have me speak at their churches and community groups. We have actually had a rise of suicide in our community in the past 5 years.
This May, I graduated college and am now a Mental Health Practitioner. I also hold my hometown title of Miss Frazee where I am able to really bring light to suicide awareness in my hometown community. I will also be able to compete at Miss Minnesota for the chance to share my story around the entire state.