Familiar face

Morgan Haugen played clarinet for the '77 Lancers during her time at Mankato West.

Morgyn Haugen, Miss Mankato 2020, isn’t one to brag about herself. But there’s a lot to be proud of.

Haugen, a 2018 Mankato West High School graduate, has been competing in the Miss Mankato competition since 2017. During her time at Mankato West, she had been in the Mankato 77 Lancers, choir and theater. 

Now the Concordia College sophomore is studying nursing while also participating in color guard, working two campus jobs and continuing her duties as Miss Mankato. 

Haugen will compete for the Miss Minnesota 2020 title in June.

Mankato Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Morgyn Haugen: I am a 19-year-old sophomore at Concordia College in Moorhead. I was born in Missoula, Montana, and moved to Mankato when I was 8 years old. I am the oldest of my siblings. I have an 11-year-old brother and a 6-year-old sister. I also have 3 step siblings that live in Colorado with my dad and stepmom. I graduated from Mankato West High School in 2018 where I was heavily involved in band, choir and theater. In my free time I like to spend time with my family and friends and play games. While in high school, I was also in the Mankato Area 77 Lancers Marching Band where I played clarinet for my first two years and was in the color guard for the second two years. Now that I am in college, I have continued my involvement in color guard in the NDSU Gold Star Marching Band. I was also in the color guard for The Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps based out of St. Peter during the summer of 2019. I love everything Disney. My mom is my best friend and I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family. My favorite color is purple and my favorite animal is the red panda. 

MM: What was the most challenging thing about competing for Miss Mankato?

MH: The most challenging thing about competing for Miss Mankato was preparing my talent. For the talent portion I performed a color guard routine, which I choreographed myself. I do not have an abundance of choreographing experience, so it was a challenge to make sure my routine flowed and looked entertaining. Throughout my time competing in the organization, I have gotten better at choreographing, but it is still something that I am learning. 

MM: What about the most rewarding experience?

MH: The most rewarding part of the experience was seeing the growth in myself over the years. I began competing for Miss Mankato in 2017 and competed the following two years. Each year I could tell that I gained more confidence from the experiences and felt more comfortable being on stage. It has been so rewarding to see how beneficial the organization has been for me over the years, and I hope that other women are able to benefit from the competition just as I have. 

MM: What inspired you to compete for Miss Mankato?

MH: When I was first asked by Shelly Bartlett to compete in Miss Mankato in 2017, I was not so sure about saying yes. I felt like I wouldn’t belong on that stage or with those women in the competition. It wasn’t really my thing or something I ever saw myself doing. I was really nervous. However, it was Shelly that inspired me to compete for Miss Mankato the first time and each year after that. She truly believed in me and knew that I would be a good candidate for the job. I was inspired by her dedication and support for the organization and knew that It was something that I needed to be a part of. I could see how much she cared for the organization and having women that would represent Mankato well, and knowing that she felt that I could do that helped me make the decision to compete. 

MM: What is something that everyone should know about Miss Mankato/Minnesota/America competition that they might be unaware of?

MH: The Miss America Organization is more than women walking around in heels and dresses. It is an organization that works to showcase the intelligence, poise and dedication of each woman. The organization has made some changes recently to Miss America 2.0 which have shifted the focus away from beauty standards and towards the impact that each woman wants to have on their community or state. There is a large emphasis on the social impact initiative and how we want to help our communities. People should know that the organization is more than a beauty pageant. I believe that it is an organization that helps empower women to be the best self they can be. 

MM: Your talent for the competition was a color guard routine. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

MH: I chose to perform a color guard routine for my talent because it is something that I am very passionate about. It is an art that not many people are aware of and I wanted to shine some light on it as well. I have been in color guard for almost five years and wanted to be able to show what I have learned and the talent that is color guard. It has been such an important part of my life, and in order to show the judges and audience who I am, I chose color guard. I am excited to perform my routine on the Miss Minnesota stage and bring even more awareness to what color guard is. 

MM: Can you tell us more about your social impact initiative on mental health?

MH: My social impact initiative is “Compassion: Overcoming the Stigma Around Mental Health.” With my initiative I want to teach people in my community about how to help others that struggle to maintain their mental health on their own. Our society has created a stigma around mental health issues that places a negative image around people that are not considered to be “normal.” This stigma that society has created makes it difficult for people to reach out when they need help because of the possibility of being judged or viewed differently for their mental health situation. I myself have struggled and worked with depression for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I reached out for help because I had been told that I was just going through a rough patch or that it’s OK to be sad for a little while. It seemed like I was expected to get through it and it would be fixed. However, that wasn’t the case for me. I needed to reach out for help, but because I had internalized the stigma, I was worried about what people would think of me. My personal experience is one that I don’t want others to have. With my social impact initiative I plan to teach people how to show compassion and support to those around them that need it. I also hope to speak to people that struggle to maintain their own mental health and help them understand that having a mental illness or a struggle does not make you weak. I want to show others that it is important to show compassion to yourself and reach out to people when you need it. I want to help end the stigma around mental health in Mankato, and hopefully the state of Minnesota. 

MM: Tell us something surprising about you.

MH: Honestly, I am an open book and I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so there are not many things that are surprising about me. I am also not great at coming up with fun facts and things like that. I did ask a friend what something surprising about me was, though. She said that it was surprising to know how involved I am. I am a full-time student with two on campus jobs and am part of the NDSU Marching Band while also being Miss Mankato. At first I didn’t understand why my involvement was a shock, but then she explained that it is because I manage it all so well and am able to still take care of myself too. I don’t like to brag about myself, which is why I struggle to come up with fun facts but it is true. I am what some would call “over-involved” but I say I’m passionate and dedicated. 

MM: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

MH: I am honored to represent Mankato by holding the title of Miss Mankato. The city of Mankato is my home and has truly shaped me into the person I am today. I am excited to have this opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me. 

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