By Zane Davis

The Miss Meridian pageant took place recently and the titles of Miss Meridian and Miss Treasure Valley were awarded via the Miss Idaho and Miss America Organizations.  Eight beautiful and talented women from across the state of Idaho competed for the two titles in Interviews, Talent, Evening Wear and On-Stage questions. Two young women, Sarah Jensen and Marissa Goodwin, both from our small town of Weiser vied for the coveted titles and both brought home the crown!  To make the event even more amazing was the fact that the reigning Miss Idaho; who crowned Sarah and Marissa, is also a Weiser girl, Grace Zimmerman. Weiser grows some amazing women!

Miss Treasure Valley – Sarah Jensen

Sarah Jensen is the daughter of Margaret and John Jensen and is a 2014 graduate of Weiser High School.  Jensen graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Education, and now teaches 7th grade math in Middleton, Idaho.

Sarah has been competing in pageants since she was 15 years old and won her first pageant in 2013 when she was crowned Miss Western Idaho Outstanding Teen.  Since that original title, Sarah has won six additional titles in two different organizations: 2015 Miss Ada County, 2016 Miss Three Rivers, Miss of Washington, Miss of America, 2018 Miss Meridian and 2019 Miss Treasure Valley.  Sarah says she began pageants because she had been playing the piano for many years and truly loved being on stage and performing. Her sister, Paige, had competed in pageants, as well and Sarah felt that pageants would both be an opportunity to showcase her piano talents, but also give her an opportunity to earn scholarships to further her education.  

Sarah is passionate about everything she does, from high school volleyball, as an exemplary student in both high school and college, her teaching career, her musical talents and now to her pageant career.  Her platform, or what is now known as a Social Impact Initiative, is also a passion of hers. Sarah works in affiliation with the American Heart Association and has an emphasis on teaching hands only CPR.

Sarah will compete in the Miss Idaho Pageant in June and encourages young women that have an interest in pageants or performing to do it!  Get involved, and “don’t try to be what you think a pageant girl is supposed to be.” She adds, “Be yourself. Personal authenticity is important, and the judges will see that.”  She also encourages young women to “Be persistent. If you don’t win, keep working, practice and continue to compete.”

Miss Meridian – Marissa Goodwin

Marissa Goodwin is the daughter of David and Angie Goodwin and is a 2017 Weiser High School graduate.  Marissa currently resides in Coeur d’Alene and attends North Idaho College in the Nursing program. Marissa was a former student of Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma.  Marissa would eventually like to work as a Nurse Anesthetist and given her passion for everything she does, she is sure to be successful.

Marissa has also been active in the pageant world for some time. Although, in the beginning, pageants were never on her radar until some encouragement from several people affiliated with the local Miss Western Idaho pageant prompted to her compete, and as they say, the rest is history.

Marissa won her first title in 2014 when she was crowned as Miss 3 Rivers Outstanding Teen.  She followed that up with Miss Western Idaho Outstanding Teen in 2016, Miss Caldwell in 2017, Miss Western Idaho in 2018 and her new title of 2019 Miss Meridian.  During her involvement in pageants, Marissa maintained her original social impact initiative and her affiliation with the Wounded Warrior Project and has raised over $10,000 through numerous fundraising efforts since 2014.  Marissa has a lofty goal to double that 5-year total this year.

Marissa is proud of her successes within the Miss America Organization and she is extremely grateful for the scholarship funding that pageants have provided.  However, she is quick to point out that her success was not achieved alone. She says, “My parents have been wonderful” but adds, “I couldn’t have achieved any of it without the Weiser community.”  Marissa has had support from individuals and businesses that purchase program ads, give donations and frequent her donation yard sales and bake sales. She also has people like voice coach, Tori Thomas, help her with her opera singing talent and receives ongoing tips, advice, loaned dresses and interview questions from other pageant participants.  Marissa says that “pageants don’t have to be expensive. Especially in Weiser where there is so much community support for the pageants, anyone can be involved and be successful.”

During their recent sweep of the titles at the Miss Meridian pageant, Sarah Jensen, Miss Treasure Valley was announced first and Marissa states, “At that point I wasn’t even thinking about winning because I was so excited for Sarah since I’ve looked up to her since my first pageant and of course, because she’s from Weiser.”  Then, Marissa was announced as the new Miss Meridian. Sarah states, “It was really awesome to have both winners from Weiser.” Sarah and Marissa were coronated by Miss Idaho, Grace Zimmerman, also of Weiser. Sarah added, “It was amazing for the three of us to be up there. We were all in choir together in High School”, and for their pageant careers to converge that night was really cool.

Both Marissa Goodwin and Sarah Jensen will compete against each other again in June 2020 for the title of Miss Idaho, whereas Grace will be competing for the coveted Miss America title this month.

Miss Idaho Grace Zimmerman

The 2019 Miss Idaho, Grace Zimmerman, departed the Saturday following Thanksgiving for Uncasville, Connecticut to compete in the Miss America Pageant December 15-19.  The pageant finals, featuring the top 15 Miss America candidates will be televised on NBC on December 19th and Weiser residents will be watching with anticipation to see if the judges see what we all have known for years, Weiser grows some amazing women!

Grace Zimmerman, daughter of Dion and Dawn Zimmerman, is a 2016 graduate of Weiser High School and the reigning Miss Idaho.  Grace has been attending the University of Idaho in Moscow for 3 years but has taken her senior year off to devote to her reign as Miss Idaho.  Grace will eventually return to the U of I and finish her degree in Marketing Entrepreneurship and would like to eventually have a career in event planning and own her own event venue.

Grace has had a successful pageant career and was originally crowned Miss 3 Rivers Outstanding Teen in 2015.  She was crowned Miss Western Idaho in 2018 and Miss Idaho in 2019. She hopes to add the final bullet point to her resume with the Miss America title.  During the competition, Grace will be promoting her Social Impact Initiative of Wholesome Health. Grace will detour from the norm of singing, dancing and playing an instrument for her talent portion and she will be doing a ceramics demonstration and is very excited to be doing something that she enjoys and that is unique.

Grace reiterates the sentiments of both Sarah and Marissa regarding pageants and their perceived costs.  She encourages young women to collaborate with their peers and “borrow dresses”. She also states, “Pageants are an investment in yourself, but don’t have to be a big financial investment.”  She also adds that the town of Weiser is extremely supportive of pageants and is proud to represent Weiser at the National level. All three women commented on the benefits that they have felt from their participation, including, self-confidence, public speaking skills, ambition and pride.  Those factors, coupled with the comradery, friendships and the scholarships has kept these three fine young women competing and winning for many years and they have made Weiser very proud! Good luck ladies in your next endeavors.