By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota woman with Down syndrome will be the first to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Mikayla Holmgren has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. And this year, the trailblazer will conquer a first: As the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA pageant.

“I want to do this, on my own and I’m really, really proud of myself,” Mikayla Holmgren said.

The Bethel University student believes beauty begins on the inside. And she’s ready to show her disability doesn’t define her.

“Outside beauty, it’s like inside out because I’m thinking about what’s gorgeous. Like happy, joyful,” Mikayla said.

Her background is on stage: Mikayla began dancing at age 6, and is involved in gymnastics. And in 2015, she was crowned Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing. She has great support in her parents.

“She’s an ambassador. She’s going to be a leader and stands firm for others that maybe don’t know how to achieve things,” Mom Sandi Holmgren said.

“Hats off to the selection committee for taking a broader picture and looking back and saying, look at her credentials and say let’s go for it,” Dad Craig Holmgren said.

“I’m just really excited, it’s out in the world and people are going to know about this,” Mikayla said.

Mikayla has already started practicing for the interview portion, also walking in high heels. The Miss Minnesota USA competition will be held in Burnsville in November.

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