Dare Van Waes isn’t your stereotypical pageant girl.
A full-time student at Inver Hills Community College, Van Waes holds down five jobs as a waitress, theater intern, a UPS employee and as a staffer at two separate modeling agencies. The Eastview High School graduate also lives on her own—no small achievement for an 18-year-old.
In between it all, Van Waes still finds time to pursue her passion for pageantry. Late last month, she was named Miss Teen Minnesota in the Miss Coed Minnesota Pageant—a historic ‘first’ for Van Waes. This November, she’ll compete at the National Miss American Coed Pageant in Florida.
It’s not surprising, given her own resume, that Van Waes is quick to correct any misperceptions about the Miss Coed Minnesota pageant.
“It’s all about being yourself. A lot of girls go into it being a Barbie, thinking they’re going to pick a perfect girl, and honestly, no one is perfect,” Van Waes said on Tuesday. “This system is very much about being natural, All-American girl next door.”
Van Waes began participating in the Miss Coed Minnesota pageant when she was 10-years-old, after her mother enrolled Van Waes in the activity. Painfully shy, Van Waes thought she would never go far in the competition, but that first year she took second place in the Miss Preteen Minnesota age group.
Van Waes kept at it over the next six years then took a two-year hiatus beginning when she was 16. Although she routinely received honors at the competitions, she was never crowned first place—until this spring.
With the title of Miss Teen Minnesota under her belt, Van Waes is feverishly preparing for the national competition in November. It may be seven months away, but the Eagan resident needs to raise several hundred dollars through sponsorships to cover her entrance fees and other miscellaneous costs. She’ll also be working extensively with her coach and others to prepare for the national contest—held at the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
For Van Waes, pageantry has never been about the aesthetics. She enjoys serving as a role model for younger pageant participants, and said the Miss Coed Minnesota contests helped her regain confidence after she experienced bullying in school.
“It really opened me up so I’d be able to present myself in front of others, but it also taught me that you don’t have to be pretty to be successful,” Van Waes said. “Having your voice and stating your opinons and really staying true to what you are is really going to get you far.”