RACINE — Newly crowned Miss Wisconsin, Alyssa Bohm of Racine, got used to the spotlight at 2 years old, working as the on-stage assistant for her father who is a professional magician.
“It was just kind of a natural connection for me to be on stage in competition mode and really expressing myself because of the experiences I had as a child working with my dad, being his magician’s assistant,” Bohm said.
Bohm, 24, grew up in Racine and graduated from Case High School, where she worked this past school year as a special education teacher.
Over the next year as Miss Wisconsin, Bohm will work to promote her social impact initiative: Enhancing opportunities for individuals with special needs. Bohm’s career and her initiative were both inspired by her aunt Cindy, who has an intellectual disability. After Cindy’s parents died, she lived with family members and now resides in a group home in Milwaukee.
“There just weren’t enough resources for her,” Bohm said. “And I wanted to be part of something that was really going to provide opportunity.”
Bohm has already put a lot of work into providing opportunities for those with disabilities. During her freshman year at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she served as the co-adviser for the Sparkle Squad, a cheerleading team for girls with special needs at Case. She currently serves on the board of directors for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
During the coming year, Bohm hopes to expand the Special Olympics Unified Sports Program, which provides opportunities for those with disabilities and their non-disabled peers to work together in creating inclusive environments within schools.
Four local titles
Bohm began competing in the Miss America Organization at 19, and has since competed in 16 local pageants and won four local titles, including Miss Racine. She competed in the June 15 Miss Wisconsin pageant under the Miss Rock River Valley title, which she claimed in January. This year was her fourth time competing in Miss Wisconsin and her last chance to win the title.
“I left everything on that stage,” Bohm said. “I put my heart and soul into everything that I did.”
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Bohm said it was a surreal moment when she realized that she’d won, as it’s something she had dreamed about for years.
“I’m actually achieving one of my biggest goals in life,” Bohm said. “Being able to represent the State of Wisconsin and truly make amazing changes for those with disabilities, and I just couldn’t believe that it was actually happening and I was now getting the chance of a lifetime.”
Along with her title, Bohm won a $10,000 scholarship, plus $600 for winning the pageant’s special education award. Through her involvement with the Miss America organization, Bohm has won more than $18,000 in scholarships and has paid off almost 40% of her student debt.
Bohm, who held the title of Miss Racine in 2015, was not the only Racinian on stage during the Miss Wisconsin Competition. Miss Racine 2019, Ashely Monti, was a top 10 semi-finalist in the contest and won a preliminary interview award; Miss Racine 2018 Jennifer Schmidt was also a top 10 semifinalist and Miss Racine 2016 Haley Schonter won a scholarship for her preliminary interview.
Bohm will have to leave her position at Case to fulfill her role as Miss Wisconsin this year, but said she will return to visit her students. After her year as Miss Wisconsin, Bohm plans to return to the classroom or possibly work for a nonprofit.
“This opportunity is really going to open a lot of doors for me and I’m just really excited about what’s going to happen and what will unfold,” she said.
Besides promoting her social impact initiative, Bohm also plans to get involved in the community and show people what Miss Wisconsin and the Miss America Organization are all about.
“It’s a huge opportunity for you to grow personally, professionally, and to be out in your community and to spread the message that you want to spread and really making monumental changes,” she said.
Bohm will represent Wisconsin in this year’s Miss America competition, for which the date and location have not been announced.