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There she is: Fargo woman prepares for Miss America

Jacky Arness of Fargo is crowned Miss North Dakota 2014 by Laura Harmon, Miss North Dakota 2013. Special to The Forum 1 / 2
Miss North Dakota top five, from left, Meagan McDougall (Miss Fargo), third runner-up; Faye Stromberg (Miss West Fargo), first runner-up; Jacky Arness (Miss Peace Garden), Miss North Dakota 2014; Abigail Mattson (Miss Grand Forks), second runner-up; Beth Ryan (Miss Williams County), fourth runner-up. Special to The Forum 2 / 2

FARGO – There aren’t many people who would describe four solid months of planning, preparation, rehearsal and physical discipline, all to compete in one of the most famous pageants in history, as a break.

Only one in the entire state of North Dakota, as a matter of fact – Jacky Arness, of Fargo.

But that’s exactly what it is to Arness, as she spent the day after being crowned Miss North Dakota filling out paperwork for the Miss America pageant.

“I just can’t stop grinning, thinking about it,” said the Bethel University junior.

Arness spent the past three days in Williston, N.D., competing in a crowd of 18 other high achievers for the state title.

The then-Miss Peace Garden won the 65th crown with a singing talent, performing “Feeling Good” for the audience.

And she’s far from ready to rest on those laurels.

The Miss America pageant was recently pushed up from January to September, leaving Arness with a foreshortened time frame to prepare her platform and performance for a national audience.

Back in St. Paul, Arness is in the midst of pursuing a double major, in both Political Science and Biblical Studies and Theology.

Surprisingly, she considers her pursuit of the Miss America crown a significant “break” from the hard work of ultimately getting her law degree after her projected 2015 undergraduate degrees.

Arness sees the possibility of becoming Miss America at Atlantic City in September as the perfect launching pad to tackle one of her biggest interests, systemic and general poverty and its eradication.

It plays into her platform, which is empowerment, particularly of women.

“We can engage the younger generation and provide them with economic opportunity,” particularly at home in North Dakota, which needs young people to stay and develop their skills and careers at home, Arness pointed out.

Her platform as Miss North Dakota focuses on empowerment. With it, Arness hopes to expand networking opportunities and volunteerism for women.

“I think it’s quite appropriate,” she said, given North Dakota’s booming economy. “We are gaining a lot of political and economic power.”

In the meantime, first things first. She’s got quite a bit to accomplish during her “break,” after all, and a field of more than 50 to conquer.

“It’s a lot of hard work and preparation,” she said. “The pressure’s on to do your best.”