Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2012 and she struggled at first with the notion of wearing an insulin pump. "I was concerned about how I would look, how I would measure up. It was difficult to think I'll be ...hooked up to a machine," Sierra said.
But images of Miss America 1999 Nicole Johnson wearing her insulin pump inspired and encouraged her. This year, her second time competing at the state level, she wore her pump on stage and she'll do the same when she comes to Atlantic City. "I can't wait to wear my pump at Miss America," Sierra said. "I want to show others you can be beautiful." She credits Nicole Johnson with setting an important example. "She had such a huge impact on my confidence and self-esteem," Sierra said. "I had an obstacle and I have been able to overcome it and reach people," she said.
Her own experiences inspired her platform Possibilities for Disabilities, a program which offers sports camps for people with developmental disabilities. "We started it to give kids opportunities to have extracurricular activities," Sierra said of the program at Canyon Ridge High School in her hometown of Twin Falls.. But the program did more. She watched as the teen counselors involved built friendships with those in the program. "It started breaking down barriers as they formed these friendships," Sierra said. "It gave them identities beyond their disabilities." Sierra is a business major at the College of Southern Idaho - she just won more than $17,000 in scholarships at Miss Idaho - and hopes for a future as an entrepreneur owning her own business. "I'm very project management oriented," she said, explaining she likes to take a vision and make something of it.
Her trip to Atlantic City will be her first time in the resort. "I'm so excited I get to walk down the Boardwalk," Sierra said. At Boardwalk Hall, she will sing "Forget About the Boy" from Thoroughly Modern Millie. While her trip to the Jersey Shore is a first, Sierra loves to travel and in 2014 visited 12 countries and nine states. She also lived a year in Ecuador when her father worked as a doctor at a mission clinic there. The experience allowed her to practice her Spanish, which she can speak, read and write. The experience gave her an appreciation for America's healthcare and educational opportunities. "What it really taught me was to appreciate the amazing education system here. It has its problems, but we have free access t it," she said.