VERMILLION, S.D. – Amber Hulse, a junior political science major from Hot Springs, South Dakota, was crowned Miss South Dakota last weekend. Hulse manages a non-profit organization called ‘Operation Overload’ as her Miss South Dakota initiative. The organization helps high school students get the resources they need to continue their education post high school.
Hulse said the objective is to ‘overload’ students with information they may not be getting and help students plan for their career.
“I started Operation Overload because I came from a small rural high school in Hot Springs, and I really needed someone to be there for me in the decision-making process,” said Hulse. “My parents never went to a formal four-year university and so going through it was overwhelming and stressful. I want to help students that are in situations where they maybe don’t have the support they need, or they need help deciding what to do after high school. Operation Overload is all about access to information and one of those things is access to higher education.”
As part of Operation Overload, Hulse will start another new initiative called Super Saturday, which will help students plan for their future by providing workshops about financial aid, ACT prep and choosing an institution.
Seven Year Journey
Hulse has prepared for the role of Miss South Dakota by participating in numerous state-wide competitions for the last seven years.
“It’s kind-of unreal. I definitely feel like it’s not actually a thing yet,” Hulse said. “I feel still on cloud nine when people call me Miss South Dakota.”
Hulse was runner-up in last year’s Miss South Dakota competition, and she said that experience has shaped how she prepared for this year’s competition. Before earning the Miss South Dakota crown, Hulse has held seven local titleholder positions across the state such as Miss Badlands Outstanding Teen, Miss Christmas in the Hills and Miss State Fair, to name a few.
Hulse said that from those titleholder positions she has learned how to represent the state on the Miss South Dakota stage and, later this year, the Miss America stage.
“Being a titleholder from various areas across the state has taught me about those communities, and I learned a lot of fun facts about the area,” Hulse said. “Now as Miss South Dakota, I feel like I’m qualified to represent the whole state.”
In the following year, Hulse plans to move to Sioux Falls where she will be a full-time student taking online classes and independent study courses, while she manages her time as Miss South Dakota.
Hulse encourages all women to get involved in the Miss South Dakota organization.
“Miss South Dakota is a really great way to have a voice for someone to make change,” Hulse said. “If I get nothing else accomplished as Miss South Dakota, I want to make sure that women are getting involved in this organization.”
Watch Miss South Dakota Amber Hulse compete in Miss America later this fall on NBC.