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Check Out Holly Enowski’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly Enowski.

Hi Holly, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m Holly Enowski, Miss North Kansas City representing the greater Kansas City area as a candidate for Miss Missouri in the Miss America Organization. This is my sixth time competing for the opportunity of Miss Missouri and I’ve earned nearly $20,000 in scholarships.

I grew up between Lake of the Ozarks and Jefferson City, Missouri, and currently reside 40 minutes south of Kansas City. My undergraduate is from the University of Missouri where I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in science and agricultural journalism. I am currently an MBA candidate at Washington University in St. Louis (my program has been virtual due to the pandemic).

Grit has been a part of my story for as long as I can remember – being born at 2 pounds, 11 ounces 1 and 2 minutes younger than my brothers. In my hometown, nearly 65% of my peers qualified for free and reduced lunch, and that realization led to a lifelong commitment to alleviating food insecurity and extreme poverty, at home and abroad. For over a decade, I’ve worked to create programs, educate youth and young adults about the Sustainable Development Goals, and equip communities with the tools and resources they need to ensure equitable futures for all.

Missouri is my home, and it’s my mission to amplify Midwest voices, share success stories, and encourage the next generation to invest in their own communities. Rural economic development is a passion of mine, and through my podcast, I showcase how the Midwest truly is the best.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There are a lot of antiquated perceptions and stereotypes of what involvement in the Miss America Organization looks like. The Miss America Organization has evolved over time, as have the candidates participating in the program, to be a professional and personal development experience to prepare women for the world, provide important scholarship dollars to make higher education more accessible, provide a platform for women to discuss critical social issues, and inspire the next generation to have and use their voices to impact change.

One of the greatest joys in my experience over my last decade of involvement in Miss America and its Outstanding Teen program has been challenging the perception many have about this competition and to be an example of how it progresses and prepares women for the future, empowering who they are in this moment.

A struggle has certainly been confronting the negative stereotypes and breaking the pedestal that typically has been given to Miss America and candidates at the local, state, and national levels. I’m a young adult navigating being a professional in this increasingly remote work environment, trying to understand my role in the world and the ways I can make an impact, and balancing all the moving parts of life. I struggle with a comparison, with having intentional friendships as an adult, with social media consumption, with not equating my worth to my work and outcomes… like many of you! It has never been a smooth ride, but it’s through the trials and tribulations that I’ve learned and become a better version of who I was meant to be.

The main struggle I have had in my life is recognizing my own worth and taking up space. I’m my own worst critic and with that, can sometimes downplay my own accomplishments, my own abilities, and the work I have done up until this point.

In terms of personal struggles, I have so many dreams and ideas, and plans that it can be hard for me to prioritize and identify what is best and feasible for this season. I dream of being a small business owner myself and currently support other small businesses through social media management, content development, and business consulting.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I currently work part-time for the Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development and the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources International Programs Office at the University of Missouri, working to amplify higher education’s role in addressing food insecurity and extreme poverty.

In addition, I freelance social media and communications services and offer business and event consulting. I recently completed a project as a contractor with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and I manage the external communications for The Letter Project, an international nonprofit that empowers young women and girls through handwritten letters. I specialize in event, nonprofit, and business communications, and project/program development. Taking concepts from idea to execution is my favorite!

My heart and hustle set me apart from others – along with my multi-faceted skillset. From agricultural economics to international business, strategic communication, and marketing research, my distinct understanding of qualitative and quantitative metrics can move the needle for nonprofits, brands, and small businesses.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The COVID-19 pandemic taught me to act now and do not anticipate, just participate. I had so many events on the calendar (for me, personally my college graduation was canceled and Miss Missouri was postponed) that I was SO excited for that never happened because of the pandemic.

I realized that I often lived for the next moment, or the next thing and the pandemic taught me to appreciate the day ahead and to be present at the moment because it can all change unexpectedly. As a planner and achiever, this reminder was needed. I no longer fill my days with meetings and outcomes to satisfy others’ priorities (whether that is work or otherwise) and am instead more intentional about my time, my energy, and how I am living my day-to-day.

Most interesting? Having an online presence is important for a business or non-profit, and having multiple income streams (and ideally, multiple touchpoints with the consumer) is critical to sustainable growth. Too many businesses suffered as a result of only having brick-and-mortar storefronts.

The most important lesson? For many of us, we’re only one missed paycheck away from experiencing hunger or poverty – and unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity domestically and abroad in ways that we have not seen. It’s imperative that we continue to have conversations about strengthening our food system, our social systems, and our community systems to better provide for each other in times of crisis.

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Image Credits
Brian Paulette and David Pickering

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