Elizabeth Kolden competing in Anaheim

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Kolden a Calif. finalist

Published 6:57pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Competing as National American Miss Michigan in Anaheim, Calif., over Thanksgiving break, Elizabeth Kolden of Dowagiac finished in the final five.
Kolden, first runner-up to Shelby Willis in the 2009 Miss Dowagiac pageant, was Miss Heart of Blossomtime 2011, involving Dowagiac in that festival for the first time since 2003.
Dec. 10 in St. Joseph, Koldencrowned her 2012 successor, Demi Overley.
“I’m completely happy with my placing,” she said Thursday while home from Central Michigan University, where she is majoring in religion and minoring in political science. “I was so excited just to get top 10, but final five was my ultimate goal” in what could well have been her final pageant Nov. 22-27.
“Truthfully, I don’t know,” said Kolden, who turns 21 May 20.
She has held three statewide titles, including National American Miss Michigan Teen 2009 and Miss Michigan Teen 2008 through the American Coed Pageant.
She met Gov. Jennifer Granholm and watched a Detroit Tigers game from Dave Dombrowski’s box at Comerica Park.
“It’s very competitive,” she said. “Last year, National American Miss was the nation’s largest system, and it’s only a little over 10 years old. The organization’s values center around family. One day was dedicated to spend at Disneyland. I went to Disney World with the (Chieftain Marching Band, for which she played trumpet). The castle’s a lot smaller than Florida’s.
“Judging was on evening wear, interview with the judges, a personal introduction on stage and community service,” but if she had to have a platform, “I’m passionate about animal rights.”
The other finalists came from Missouri, Ohio, South New York and Utah, with Miss Missouri taking the crown. South New York?
“In bigger states, like Texas, California, New York and Ohio, they have two representatives. There might be hundreds of girls competing in one age division,” she said. “North California made top 10.”
CMU’s second semester starts Jan. 9. “I’ve changed my major like four times,”  she said. “I love my major now. It’s like a history major, focused on cultural aspects of religion. Last semester, I took the Old Testament and religious traditions of India. Next semester, I’ll be taking Islam. I’m still in ROTC and want to go into military intelligence. That hasn’t changed.”
Miss America is not among her goals.
“I don’t completely agree with the swimsuit competition,” Kolden said. “I understand having a fit life and caring for your body, but I don’t think you need to walk in a bikini to be a titleholder.”

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