Mikayla Holmgren has been looking to shatter social norms as a woman with Down Syndrome.
Her past accomplishments include:
• The first participant in any state Miss USA pageant with Down Syndrome.
• Speaking in front of the Minnesota House and Senate to help pass a bill relating to those who have Down Syndrome.
• Addressing the Pennsylvania Congress as part of the Down Syndrome Awareness Act and at the United Nations with Holy See.
Holmgren is looking to break even more barriers as she recently submitted a video to Sports Illustrated to be part of their Swimsuit Issue.
In her 60-second video, she explained why she would be a great candidate.
“Sports Illustrated Swim has been such a champion of the diversity of beauty,” she said. “Now is the time to include someone like me. I’m a dancer, model, public speaker and a college graduate…All women deserve to be celebrated.”
The 26-year-old Marine on St. Croix native, who graduated from St. Croix Prep in 2014, said the decision to apply was an easy one.
“To have more inclusion, more awareness around the world,” she said. “To impact people around the world.”
She submitted her tape last month. There was no word if she was selected as of last week.
The feedback about her submission is catching nationally. She’s been interviewed by Twin Cities media outlets and will be interviewed by Minnesota native and former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson for People TV in the near future, said mom Sandi.
Education has been a big part of Holmgren’s life. She graduated from Bethel University’s B.U.I.L.D. program and received a two-year certificate program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Before COVID-19 hit, she worked in childcare at the Stillwater YMCA.
Besides education, dance has been a high priority in her life.
“I’ve been doing it since I was six years old,” she said. “It’s a full-time passion.”
She choreographs her own dances, and competes at many competitions and for special events. She was a member of her college dance team and has performed in front of thousands of attendees at both the Best Buddies Organization Annual Conference and National Down Syndrome Conference.
Holmgren entered her first pageant in 2015 when she won the Minnesota Miss Amazing Junior Crown. She wanted to do another one and entered the Miss Minnesota USA in 2017, setting the precedent. She won two awards that evening: The Director’s Award and the Spirit of Miss USA Award.
“I think she’s pretty amazing,” Sandi said. “She was born with a medical issue and not given much hope on what she could accomplish and she’s outdone them.”
Mikayla said she wants to write a book about her life so far and what she still wants to accomplish.
“It will be about following your dreams,” she said.