Miss Minnesota 2012
“And your new Miss Minnesota 2012 is….. Siri Freeh!” were the words uttered that forever changed this young woman’s life. As Siri stood on the Miss Minnesota stage the evening of June 16 with her cascading bouquet of roses and sparkling crown, she could only think of thanking God for the amazing journey that lies ahead.
Winning the Talent, Lifestyle & Fitness, and Evening Gown preliminary awards; Interview award; and the Miss America Academic Achievement award at the state competition, Siri is a clearly hardworking, articulate, dedicated and talented young woman.
View recent video of Siri appearing on Twin Cities Live!
A 23-year old nursing student at the University of Minnesota with a 4.0 GPA, Siri plans to pursue her Doctorate in Cardiovascular Research. She is a member of the U of M’s Honors Program and works tirelessly to maintain the balance between her academic and career goals, and her creative passion, lyrical ballet. “Dance keeps my life balanced and centered” says Siri, but it wasn’t until she was 13 years old that she began studying classical ballet and jazz dance. Two years later after attending a summer intensive program with Ballet Magnificat in Mississippi, Siri discovered lyrical ballet and fell in love with it. “I have always had the ‘dance itch,’ Siri said. When I was younger, I loved twirling around in a tutu and choreographing my own dance routines, even though my only lessons at the time were from my VHS copy of the Nutcracker Ballet. To this day I still choreograph my own dances.”
Siri’s personal service platform is “Living Heart Strong,” which was inspired by her father who was admitted to the Emergency room after abnormal EKG’s. Her father had never experienced problems with his heart before, but this incident brought the importance of heart disease prevention to her doorstep. She has now established relationships with the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart Campaign, Camp Odayin – a summer camp for children with heart disease, the Minneapolis Heart Institute, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital, to bring Minnesotans and Americans alike the message of health promotion and early intervention. Her father is now a model of her platform, following the steps for a heart healthy lifestyle. In fact, Siri and her father ran a half marathon together last summer.
Siri has treasured her time as a camp counselor with Camp Odayin. “I loved hearing the kids each night talk about their ‘special hearts,’ she said. It blew me away when one of my 10-year-old girls shared about her fear of going into atrial fibrillation at any given moment. But, at Camp Odayin, she expressed that she actually forgot about her condition! I was initially amazed at her extraordinary knowledge of her condition, but even more inspired by her story of staying optimistic and living fully, despite challenges. Needless to say, these kiddos inspire my platform work and advocacy every day. I was extremely honored to be awarded the Camp Odayin Staff Scholarship in 2011 for my work in heart disease prevention and education.”
In addition to her personal service platform, Siri will utilize her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Hospitals to bring attention to children who are faced with life-threatening illnesses. But for Miss Minnesota 2012, Siri has already been volunteering at Gillette’s Children’s Specialty Healthcare for several years. “My favorite part about going to Gillette’s Children's Specialty Healthcare is bringing my fellow nursing students at the University of Minnesota with me,” Siri said. It refreshes many a worn-out nursing student’s soul and inspires us as we interact with the population that we may serve one day. One of my favorite memories is a sentiment shared by a volunteer coordinator. She relayed that the last time we came in, we changed one little boy’s entire week. He had been admitted to Gillette’s at the beginning of the week and was really struggling with his disabilities and being in a hospital. His parents shared that he had been extremely difficult, uncooperative, and, perhaps most disheartening, unable to even smile. On the day we came in for activities, the boy had at first been unwilling to come down, but because he thought meeting some nursing students could be interesting he changed his mind. As we worked together on the activity and laughed with him, we never knew what a difference we were making. His parents later told the volunteer coordinator that we had made such a significant impact on him and their family as he had never smiled so much before. They wanted to thank us for taking the time, despite the chaos of nursing school, to brighten their little boy’s entire week.”
In preparation for the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant, Siri practiced at the Minnesota Dance Theater’s studio. She loved the tall beautiful windows that washed the room in light. “This space makes me feel as though I am floating when I dance,” Siri said. When asked where the most unlikely place is that she rehearses, she describes dancing out doors on the family farm, and her challenge to keep from dancing over all the chickens that are roaming around!
Siri’s talent routine was a self-choreographed lyrical ballet dance to “Make Us One” by Cindy Morgan. “I view dance as its own language, and when I am dancing I am speaking from my heart,” she said. “ When I am choreographing a dance, I begin by listening to my music and meditating on the feelings it stirs. Then I begin walking around the studio while the music is playing - every so often throwing out a dance move that I feel. It sparks my vision for the dance and from there my choreography emerges.”
Siri chose the song “Make Us One,” to dance to because it reminds her that despite the issues, beliefs, and political stances that divide society, there exists a deeper connection that brings people together. She believes this connection revolves around society’s very humanity and desire to do the right thing.
Earlier in her career, Siri was an instructor at her ballet studio, Messiah Dance Theater. She taught 4 – 6 year olds ballet, and they taught her patience. She also taught older students and recounts a memorable experience while teaching a 14-year old diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. “One of my students opened my eyes to how dance goes beyond the entertainment aspect,” Siri commented. “It can provide immense therapy and healing. One of my 14-year-old students was diagnosed with Asperger's. It took her longer than the other girls to pick up on the technique and choreography and I had to learn how to adjust my teaching to her learning style. I never really understood how much this impacted her until I watched her perform at our first spring recital. Her face was such a window into her soul as I watched such joy and feeling on her face, I wanted to start crying in the wings. Her mom thanked me and told me she believed dance served as a form of therapy for her daughter and even helped with her communication skills.”
One of Siri’s most memorable performing experiences was dancing with the Moscow Ballet when she was only 14 years old. The Ballet was touring throughout the United States and inviting area dancers to audition for its production. Siri was selected to dance the part of a party guest. She was also a two-time “Grand Champion” award winner for lyrical ballet at the Minnesota State Fair.
In addition to dancing, Siri loves to play the piano. She has been playing since 8, and in contrast to dance, her favorite style to play is classical music. Chopin is her composer of choice.
As a dancer, Siri loves to see television shows that present all styles of dance in a positive and professional light. She says these programs recognize the amazing talent in America in a way that grabs teens’ and young adults’ attention. Her favorite show is “So You Think You Can Dance,” because she enjoys seeing how the dancers give all they can and leave their hearts on the stage each week. It is very inspiring to her.
At a recent Miss Minnesota event, Siri had the opportunity to meet the oldest living Miss Minnesota, Patricia Cummings. Pat was crowned in 1944 just after the great depression. “She is such a beautiful woman,” Siri said. “I did not believe her when she told me she was almost ninety years old. I am convinced that the crown brings with it a special magic that produces timeless beauty in Miss Minnesota for the rest of her life. Upon meeting her, I asked for some advice as I was to compete the next weekend. She proceeded to instruct me on how to walk with the grace and poise of Miss Minnesota. She gave me valuable guidance and praise as I practiced in front of her! She told me, ‘you just hold your own out there.’ These words ran through my mind as I performed on the final evening of competition”
“I also wanted to know more about how the pageant was different when she ran. Pat told me that she had earned the title right after the great depression, and because money was scarce, they could not afford a crown for her. The new Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant board decided to surprise her with a crown, and called her to stage on the Saturday night of our pageant. I cried as I got to hug her and celebrate our “double crowning” moment together.”
Siri’s hometown is Lake Park, Minn. She is the oldest of three daughters of David & Rhonda Freeh. She is of Norwegian descent with a bit of German and Irish in the mix. Her mother learned of the name Siri from Norway, and thought it was unique. The name “Freeh” is German and means “rises early” which Siri says happens to be true.
As Miss Minnesota 2012, Siri won over $10,000 in scholarship funds and prizes. She will compete for the title of Miss America 2013 live on ABC from Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood on Jan. 12, 2013. Siri’s activities can be viewed on her blog at www.missminnesota.org. To request Siri’s appearance at an event, visit the 'Book an Appearance' page and submit the form online.