Q&A with Courtney Pelland

Jul 31, 2020

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Courtney Pelland, I’m 21 and am a born and raised Nebraskan. I have a younger brother who is 18 and three golden retrievers Holly, Hooch and Oliver at home. My parents are super supportive in everything I do and will come to any dance performances, school events or pageants as well. I’ve been dancing since the age of 4 and have continued to dance throughout my college years. I live with 4 other dances in the town where I go to college and we have an American Eskimo, named Shadow. I’m a nursing major and will be going into my senior year in the Fall.

You are the current Miss Nebraska State Fair 2020 Titleholder, how did you get started in pageants?

My mom took me to my first Miss Nebraska pageant at the age of 5, which lead me to have a passion for this organization and a dream of one day becoming Miss Nebraska and possibly Miss America. I was a part of the little sister program in 2008 with my big sister being Brittany Jeffers, who eventually won the title of Miss Nebraska 2009. It took me a while to gain confidence to start competing, but I started competing in the teen portion at the age of 15, holding one title of Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2016. My senior year of high school I started competing in the Miss Division. I’ve held the titles of Miss Fur Trade Days 2017, Miss Nebraska State Fair 2018, Miss Swedish Days 2019 and of course Miss Nebraska State Fair 2020.

How has competing in pageants impacted your life?

Pageants have impacted me in many ways, but there are two areas where I have seen the most improvement. The first one is my confidence. I’ve watched myself grow from a shy young lady to a confident woman. Being confident in who I am has helped me to love myself and take more chances in the decisions I make. Secondly, my interview skills have greatly developed as well. When I first started competing, I wasn’t a great interviewer, but always made sure to gather critiques and apply them. I’m so grateful that pageants have helped me to grow and develop myself further as an individual. Along with the development of these skills, I have also gained friendships with women all across the state of Nebraska as well as the country.

Your social impact initiative is “Be Selfless – Donate Blood.” What inspired you to select this initiative?

In January 2015, I was hospitalized with iron deficiency anemia due to critical lab values. My hemoglobin was a 6, normal is 12 and my iron storage and ferritin were completely depleted. That day I received two units of blood and an iron bolus. For the next 10 months I went through iron IV therapy along with trying to diagnose what caused the iron deficiency anemia. Eventually, we came to the diagnosis of Celiac Disease. This experience is what inspired my social impact, Be Selfless- Donate Blood. My goal is to promote, educate and encourage all generations to donate blood.

How can individuals get involved and donate their blood?

Individuals can reach out to their local red cross to find a blood drive near them or a donation center. More information regarding blood donation or becoming a volunteer can be found on their website https://www.redcross.org

You mention you are familiar with celiac disease – what is the story behind that? What advice do you have for individuals who may be facing celiac disease?

As mentioned above, I was hospitalized with iron deficiency anemia and took us 10 months to find the diagnosis of Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks itself. In this case the body attacks the villi (hair like things) in the intestines when gluten is consumed. There is currently no cure for Celiac, which means a gluten free diet is the only way to treat this. I cannot consume any food with wheat, barley, rye or malt and also have to be aware of cross contamination.

My biggest piece of advice for someone recently diagnosed with Celiac or anyone with Celiac is to educate yourself on the disease, read all the labels, read the reviews for restaurants, ask questions when eating out and be aware of cross contamination to your food. Protect your body and don’t be afraid to speak out about having Celiac Disease. If you know someone with any type of food allergy, please be sympathetic to how difficult it is to eat at restaurants, eat at other people’s houses or even trust other people’s cooking. Please ask them what they can eat and be aware of the food you have available and finally, do not be offended if they bring their own food. It isn’t to be rude; it is for their health and safety.

What are your future hopes and ambitions?

I will be going into my senior year of Nursing school. I hope to either work at Children’s Hospital in Omaha as a pediatric nurse or work as a Labor & Delivery nurse after graduation in May 2021.

What advice would you like to share with others that has helped you throughout your journey? Are there any quotes that you “live” by?

One of my favorite quotes is “Everything happens for a reason.” I firmly believe each individual is meant to experience different situations to lead them to where they are supposed to be. Even in moments when we question why something has happened to us, an answer with eventually appear and we will understand. For example, when I competed for Miss Nebraska 2019, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to make the Top 5 and hopefully win the job, but God had other plans. Within 24 hours after finals night, my family and I were headed to Arizona to say goodbye to my grandfather before he passed away. If I would have won the title of Miss Nebraska 2019, I would have had to make a difficult decision, therefore, I believe it is okay to hurt and not understand why something has happened, but also being patient while your whys are answered.

What does being Simply Unstoppable mean to you?

To me being Simply Unstoppable, means putting your heart and mind into your dreams. It means that I will put in the work to reach a dream of mine and not let anything stop me.

How can readers get in contact with you to continue this conversation?

If readers want to continue this conversation, I have multiple ways to reach out to me.

Instagram: @missnebraskastatefair2020

Facebook: Miss Nebraska State Fair 2020, Courtney Pelland

Email: courtneyjp.1999@gmail.com