Hillman native Kayla Setcoski (Manning) recently won the title of Mrs. Montana and will compete in the Mrs. USA Pageant at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 31. Setcoski grew up in the Hillman area and was Young Miss Hillman in 2004 and Miss Hillman in 2008, following in her mother's footsteps. Her mother, Sherry Manning, won Miss Hillman in 1981, and instilled the same drive to succeed in her daughter.
"Every little girl wants to grow up to be just like her mom," Setcoski said. "My parents (Howard and Sherry Manning of Hillman), sister, and all of my family and friends back home in Michigan are fantastic. I would like to give a shoutout to Jack and Jan Mathias from Thunder Bay Golf Course for sending me a very thoughtful card in the mail. I worked for them for many years when I was in junior high and high school."
Setcoski moved to Montana to be with her husband, Wesley, who is a member of the United States Air Force and is currently stationed in Great Falls, Mont. Wesley is a graduate of Alpena High school, and Kayla a graduate of Hillman High School. They met when Kayla was 15 and became high school sweethearts.
"We have been married for a little over two years now," she said. "My husband has been wonderfully supportive. He is so proud that he is married to 'Mrs. Montana.'"
Setcoski has been steadily preparing for the Mrs. USA Pageant components which include interview, opening number, swimsuit, gown and an on-stage question. She keeps busy finding sponsors, working out and studying current events.
"My platform is volunteerism," Setcoski said. "I currently volunteer at the Airman's Attic - a place where young airmen and their families can go to pick up miscellaneous household items free of charge. I also recently became a member of a community service group in Great Falls. I have volunteered for American Red Cross, Toys for Tots, food drives, highway cleanups, blood drives, military base activities and many more."
Kayla believes it is important to enjoy life in every possible way. She feels a true need to help others.
"Without volunteers, the United States would not be the wonderful place it is," she said. "We can never have enough people who volunteer. I strive to be a role model who encourages others to give back to those in need. Helping and being kind to others is how I live my life, and will continue to do so - with or without a crown on my head. It all goes back to volunteerism."
Setcoski has held a position on the Dean's List of every college she attended with a GPA of 3.81 or better, was Student of the Year at Hillman Jr./Sr. High in 2009, and continues to work toward a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in education.
At 22 years old, she is the youngest competitor in this year's Mrs. USA competition and is very excited to have her husband, his parents and her parents at the competition to cheer her on.
Setcoski will compete against 54 contestants from around the world and said she is honored to represent Montana in the pageant, but still holds a special place for Michigan in her heart.
"Even though I'm Mrs. Montana, my heart still belongs to Michigan," she said. "I love Hillman and I still call it my home."
The Mrs. USA competition was founded by Isabella Ilacqua in 1986, and contestants are judged based on personality, charm, poise, beauty and the ability to articulate. The pageant strives to recognize the beauty, confidence, success, strength and resilience of married women all over the United States and it's territories.
For more information on the Mrs. USA pageant visit www.mrsunitedstates.com.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.