Miss America Cara Mund spoke on the importance of helping the community and sticking with goals to about 200 prekindergarten through sixth-grade students Tuesday at St. John's Academy in Jamestown.
Mund said she was inspired when she was 5 years old after she met a Miss North Dakota. She was inspired to work hard in school, in dance and to give back to her community.
"She was also a nice person and wanted to impact everyone she met," Mund said. "By being Miss America I was given this platform across America where I get to make this difference, but it's so important for me to come back to North Dakota and to come back to our kids."
Now that Mund is in that same role she said it's important to share that same message to hopefully inspire children to push themselves more and not to set limits on potential.
Mund, 24, was crowned Miss North Dakota on June 10, 2017. She was crowned Miss America on Sept. 10, 2017.
Mund told children how she came to adopt Make-A-Wish Foundation as her platform. She had two friends in middle school who were diagnosed with cancer, and one, her best friend, passed away on Mund's 14th birthday.
After she was told she was too young to organize an event to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mund said she started a charity event that is now in its 10th year.
"So the whole time I thought I was helping a friend, but in the end I was helping my community and all these other kids got involved too," she said. "It helped my friend and also numerous kids in North Dakota that were battling a life-threatening illness."
Since becoming Miss America Mund said she lives out of two suitcases and changes locations every 48 hours. She has visited 15 states and nine Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, along with attending the State of the Union Address, riding in the Macy's Day Parade and ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
During all of this Mund said she reflected on that fourth Miss North Dakota pageant. If she hadn't competed again none of this would be happening, she said.
"Sometimes when you are working toward a dream it might feel like your going backwards," she said to the children. "If I would have quit then I would not have made that dream come true."
Mund said she never expected to be Miss America, but once she was at the pageant in New Jersey she had no doubt that she was as capable of winning as any of the other contestants. She resisted recommendations to change her hair, clothing and talent to "fit the Miss America mold."
"I appreciated all the advice and everyone was trying to help me, but then I wouldn't be the same girl who won Miss North Dakota," Mund said. "I would be pretending to be something that I wasn't and would not be representing my home, my state or myself."
There isn't a Miss America mold, she said. She had the qualities and there was no reason to change who she was, she said.
"We invited her to come to SJA as we felt her message is important," said Marlys Fix, vice principal of St. John's Academy. "Someone of that caliber and with that positive message can make an impact on these young children's lives."
Mund plans to attend Notre Dame Law School in the fall of 2019. She will apply her Miss America Scholarship funds.
"So not only do I get to be Miss America and have this platform, but I also get to fund my education," she said.