An Interview With Miss Wyoming Teen USA Teryn Thatcher

Photo courtesy of Libby Watkins.

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted and edited by William Billingsley, with Toby Chytka transcribing.

With the upcoming Miss Teen USA pageant competition coming up at the end of November, the Gazette reached out to the current holder of the Miss Wyoming Teen USA crown, Teryn Thatcher, for an interview. Both the questions and Teryn’s answers have been lightly edited for readability purposes.

Why Miss Wyoming Teen?

Teryn: My mom was Mrs. Wyoming-America in 2004, so I was about 3 when she was competing in her pageants, so I was around it and I saw all the sparkles and the glitter and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so fun.” As I got older though, I was like that’s not my style. But when I saw my mom and her friends, I saw this sisterhood they had, so I started to get a little interested in it, but I didn’t want to do it in high school because I didn’t want to divide my time between high school, sports, and the pageant, because I knew I would have to let my team or the pageant down. So, when COVID-19 hit and I was heading to school, I was like, “Oh, this is the perfect time, I am right where I want to be for it.”

What sports did you do in high school?

Teryn: I did swimming, basketball, and track and field.

Is that what you do out in Logan?

Teryn: No, I’m a journalism major minoring in political science, Spanish, and communication studies at Utah State University.

What’s it been like being Miss Wyoming Teen USA?

Teryn: I don’t think a lot of people totally know what it means, but my life has changed in all the best ways; it’s like a fairy tale. My life is a lot busier because of all the responsibilities, but I have so many people who are in my corner helping me prepare for the national pageant. I think the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that I’ve had a lot of time to self-reflect on who I want to portray myself as, since I do have a lot of eyes on me. I have an Instagram account for Miss Wyoming Teen, and I’ve had a lot of people reach out from around just saying hello and things like that. Now, I also know that there’s a lot of younger girls looking up to me, so it’s really been a question of how I want them to see me. Before, I only represented Teryn and my family, but now I represent all of Wyoming

What are your current fundraising goals?

Teryn: I have a family of nine and the competition is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have amazing sponsors that’ll help me get there for the competition, but what I’m fundraising for is to help get my family there too. My family’s invested so much into this and to me, but they didn’t sign up to be Miss Teen USA, or even Miss Wyoming Teen USA. So I feel like I should help get them there. It also allows me to travel across the state to different events and just make the most of my reign.

How much are you looking to raise?

Teryn: There’s not a set amount beyond the goal of just helping cover my family’s expenses down in Tulsa. In my family, we’re a big foster family, and I absolutely don’t want the pageant to turn into a paycheck toward me— that’s not at all what I’d want this to turn into. So if I did raise more than what my family or I needed, I would donate it to the foster care system here in Wyoming, which has been a huge part of my life.

How have the fundraisers gone so far?

Teryn: Honestly, I don’t have any specifics beyond how well-received they’ve been. When I first started doing these shirts, I was like, okay, maybe I’ll sell 100 shirts. Instead, I’ve sold over 400— it’s just been crazy. I’m blessed people around here are so awesome.

Has it just been people in Kemmerer supporting you?

Teryn: No! I’ve had so many people from Kemmerer and around Wyoming buy shirts in support. Even people like my parents’ old friends that live in completely different states have bought shirts. It’s crazy how excited people are for this competition, it’s just awesome.

How else can people support you or purchase an item?

Teryn: One way to reach me is on my Instagram account, Miss Wyoming Teen USA. And you can follow my journey on there as I post updates all the time. So if someone wants to message me on there, that’s perfect. Or they can get in contact with my manager, Libby Watkins, if they want me to appear someplace because she’s the one who organizes all that. Other than that, I still get random letters or texts saying congratulations. I didn’t think people would care this much, honestly, it’s heartwarming.

Can you tell us about the competition itself?

Teryn: So you have three categories that you’re competing in evenly. The first is the interview, which is when you stand in front of a panel of judges, and they can ask you anything across the board. It’s in a closed setting right before the competition, so it’s just you, the panel, and about five minutes of questions. They can ask you anything, so you have to be very, very educated and well-spoken. So we always keep up on the news and current events since this event is so focused on the mind. The next category is activewear, which replaced the swimsuit category for teens, and we wear something that you would work out in and show how you stay healthy. The last category is evening wear, in which you wear a floor-length gown. I can’t give any details yet because it’s so top-secret right now, but I’m super excited for everyone to see mine.

Are there any common or major misconceptions that people aren’t really in tune with about the pageant world?

Teryn: I guess I would say is that pageants are work, but good work, developing yourself. It’s finding your passions and getting you around other people who have the same goals as you. My favorite part about the pageant has been being able to be around empowered, confident, and driven women. It’s been cool to see them and how they impact me in seeing the change I want to make— it’s more than just getting up on a stage and walking around. We have coaches who help us with our interviewing skills, like how to express ourselves clearly and with as much grace as we can. But it’s so rewarding. It’s not just a crown— it changes your life in all the best ways.

Are you looking forward to anything about the competition in Tulsa specifically?

Teryn: Having the chance to walk across a stage that big and being able to represent Wyoming is huge, it still blows my mind and hasn’t even set in yet. But also getting to see all my friends there— the other girls who are competing. We’ve had a couple of zoom meetings so far to just get to know each other, and they’re awesome. Like, I love them. It also dawned on me that while I would love to win and it would definitely be amazing, but every single one of those girls walking across that stage would be so deserving to win. Which is the beauty of it all, because any one of these girls are going to kill it, and I can’t wait to see how they do, their journey, how they’ve grown, and I’m just excited to talk to them again.

What about after it all ends?

Teryn: As far as after this pageant, I’d still hope that I’d be able to continue my reign as Miss Teen USA. But if I don’t win, I’d still continue to travel around and speak to kids and adults to get my message out in representing the pageant or Wyoming in different ways. I also hope that my three younger sisters follow in my footsteps because I think any girl could totally benefit from this. All it does is build your confidence and make you have a strong support system around you. As for after this pageant, I’m hyper-focused on this one for the immediate future. But I definitely think future pageants are a possibility.

Have you had to dispel any misconceptions or stigmas during your reign?

Teryn: I think people normally see and think a pageant girl is just someone who walks across the stage in a pretty dress and has no other thoughts going through her mind. But pageant girls are tough! We have rigorous schedules and have to keep up on so many different things. We’re disciplined on how we train and how we get ready for these pageants, we’re dedicated to our studies, and we all have these huge goals— we aren’t just ladies who cross a stage. We’re gonna walk across the stage and then we’re going to change the world— that’s what we do.

How much support have you gotten from the last Miss Wyoming Teen, Bailey Drewery?

Teryn: She’s been so helpful. Whenever I’ve not been sure how this or that works, or even just in need of clarification, I text her and she texts me right back. Even when I just need a little reassurance like asking her if I’m doing this right, if the pre-competition stress is normal, and anything else, she’s been a terrific shoulder to lean on and we’re just great friends.

Anything else you’d like to add for the people of Kemmerer or other readers?

Teryn: I would just say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t think people understand how supported and loved I feel from all of the support that the community has shown me. If you’re able to, I’d also love it if you could watch the pageant. It’s going to be streamed on YouTube Live on the 26th and 27th, and I’m excited to represent Wyoming.


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