by Nathan Warner
Princeton has three new ambassadors this year and two of them are from Zimmerman. Sylvia Michels and Jasmine Carr joined Princeton resident Nicole Sorenson to be crowned ambassadors of Princeton after an intense mentoring and interview process. The ceremony took place at New Life Church June 3 as part of the official kick-off for Rum River Days, with Sorenson being voted Miss Congeniality by the other candidates.
This year, the Princeton Ambassador Program changed a number of ways it operates. “In the past, the program was run by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce and supported by Princeton businesses,” President Kelsi Anderson said, “but now it is a nonprofit run entirely by volunteers, most of who are past Princeton royalty.” Part of the change involves doing away with distinctive titles such as “Queen,” “Princess,” and “Miss Princeton,” while creating one category of three equal “Ambassadors.” “This is becoming more common throughout Minnesota,” Anderson said, “because we want our ambassadors to represent our community with equality and collaborative effort.”
But perhaps the biggest surprise to Princeton came when the program’s registration was opened to candidates in the Milaca and Zimmerman school districts. “More and more programs throughout the state are opening up participation to surrounding communities that don’t have their own programs,” Anderson said, “because they are striving to emphasize local community over strict geographical boundaries. It really is a change for the better, and we’re very excited about our program’s future and potential.”
Michels and Carr share that excitement. “Jasmine and I are very honored and very thrilled to be given the opportunity to represent Princeton with our friend Nicole,” Michels said.
Carr says that Zimmerman and Milaca appreciate Princeton extending their program to them since they don’t have their own programs, and she hopes to share her sense of community as an ambassador both within and without the communities she’ll be representing. “Zimmerman, Milaca, and Princeton are communities that are all about the same thing,” she said, “and we’re eager as ambassadors of our communities to visit other communities in Minnesota, sharing what makes our communities great and learning from others.”
Michels acknowledged that some people in the Princeton community were taken aback when Zimmerman natives were selected for the ambassador program, but she is confident they will win over any skeptics, and Anderson agrees. “Our ambassadors were selected based on a number of criteria,” she said, “among them were inter-personal communication skills and past community involvement. Our judges were very thorough and these three young women represent the Princeton area perfectly.”
“I’ve always been very involved in Princeton,” Michels says, “my church is located there and I’m up in Princeton two to three times every week helping out with various activities in the community.” She also teaches a first-grade Bible class that has helped her meet local parents and community leaders. “I have many great friends that attend Princeton High School in band, choir, speech, drama and track,” she adds, “and we always encourage each other to do our best and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Princeton is very much like my second home.”
The Princeton ambassadors will represent the communities of Milaca, Zimmerman and Princeton in other towns and communities during functions, parades and community events. Inside their own communities, Michels, Carr and Sorenson will participate in community fundraisers, visit retirement homes and hospitals and get to know local people, allowing them in turn to get to know their new ambassadors.
“The hope is that once people get to know the three of us in our community, they will know how they’re being represented in other towns throughout the state,” Michels said, “and we hope to create interest and excitement in the process.”
All ambassadors received the same scholarships, $700 for educational purposes, networking prospects, and an opportunity to represent Princeton at a Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador pageant.
For more information about the Princeton Ambassador Program, call Anderson at 763-516-8850 or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ PrincetonAmbassador Program.