Spartan alumna competes for Miss USA 2018
MSU alumna Elizabeth Johnson now represents not only MSU, but the entire state of Michigan. In September 2017, she was crowned Miss Michigan USA 2018.
Johnson, who grew up in Plymouth, began dancing at a young age. She grew familiar with dancing under the spotlight, and performing in front of an audience became second nature for her.
“I grew up as a dancer, so I was used to competing on stage a lot,” she said. “I was interested in pageants more for the scholarship opportunities and to just try something new and meet new people."
“My freshman year, I was on the MSU Dance Team, and that was the team that was performing at all of the football and basketball games,” she said.
Being involved on the MSU Dance Team and balancing pageants and college life became time consuming and grew to be a hectic schedule for the college student.
Johnson had to step away from dancing and take some time off, but she later joined the MSU Elite Club Dance Team as a junior. It was a way for her to still dance, while having a little bit less of a time commitment.
“All of the girls were very supportive of when I would have to miss something for a pageant or whatever it may be,” she said. “Everyone was very supportive, and it was great to be involved in something on campus.”
Johnson said that her education at MSU, specifically in advertising and communication, has helped her in pageants. While school helped her learn to talk on the spot in pageants, pageants helped give her more confidence in her presentations at school.
Johnson said she will always consider herself a Spartan, and she is honored to be able to represent MSU and its community.
“I’m so proud to be a Spartan,” she said. “The community, I think, is one of the biggest things that I’ve taken away from my time at MSU.”
Even now, Johnson said she believes the Spartan community still surrounds her.
“Even at my job now, I’m a digital consultant for Mercedes-Benz at Shift Digital, and I feel like 80 percent of our company is MSU alumni, which is awesome,” she said. “I think, definitely, being a Spartan for life opens a lot of doors.”
The best advice that Johnson can offer to students at MSU is to stay persistent and make connections.
When she was a senior, she went to a career fair and made a connection with a company that didn’t have a job position open at the time, but she still remained in contact. Soon enough, she became an intern at McCann and eventually got her first job after graduation there.
“Really value the connections that you make and follow up and stay organized, because you never know what door might open,” she said.
As Miss Michigan USA, Johnson often gets to be involved in events that she said are heartwarming experiences for her, primarily working with younger girls and the community, acting as a role model and inspiring them to not give up on their dreams.
“Last year, I didn’t even make the top team, and I came back this year and won,” she said. “So, you never know what’s going to happen and I want to encourage them, and everyone, to not give up on your dreams and to continue in what your passion is because, eventually, it will work out.”
With all of the recent allegations of sexual assault and harassment being brought to light, Johnson said she thinks it’s important to ensure that women have a voice in environments like pageants.
“I think that is a huge issue right now, and it’s important to have a voice, and I think a lot of women feel scared to come forward and talk about that because they don’t want to be looked at as the victim or they’re worried that maybe no one will really listen to what they have to say,” she said. “I think, you know, each case really needs to be looked at individually, and not just blown off.”
With the Miss USA competition around the corner, Johnson said she will be doing everything she can to prepare.
“Up until then, I’ll be preparing for that mentally, physically, emotionally,” she said. “It’s a huge honor to be able to compete. I still can’t believe that I’m going sometimes.”
The Miss USA pageant airs spring 2018 on FOX. The exact date has not yet been released.