She's going for Miss B.C. titleFormer Miss Kamloops also launching own business this summer
Daily News Staff Reporter
To review her achievements over the past four years, it’s difficult to believe that Acacia Schmietenknop used to be a shy girl who preferred to blend into the background.
The 20-year-old former Miss Kamloops, who ran for school board last fall and launches her own business this summer, happily accepts another challenge as she prepares for a run at the Miss B.C. pageant.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” said Schmietenknop.
“I work really hard within Kamloops and it would be nice to represent Kamloops on a larger scale.”
Schmietenknop will compete against 12 other young women from across the province at the Aug. 17 to 18 pageant in Merritt.
The contestants will square off with two speeches and a talent performance before enduring a grueling three-hour exam on B.C. facts and history.
Schmietenknop plans to sing the Etta James classic At Last while playing piano for the talent portion. “It’s one of my favourite songs,” she said. She will deliver one speech on Kamloops and another on a topic familiar to her: the unique nature of names.
“I did a little bit of investigative work just to figure out what makes a name and some interesting facts about names,” she said.
“It relates to me very well because even throughout my reign as Miss Kamloops and during the (school board) elections my name was butchered all of the time. I think people get really nervous about my last name, so they overlook my first name.”
Schmietenknop remains good-humoured about it and says she has heard multiple pronunciations for Acacia, which is correctly pronounced Ah-KAY-sha.
“I’ve heard everything,” she said. “I’ve heard Aa-KACK-ee-ah, Aa-KASHA, Ah-KAYSHEE-ah. Just everything.”
Her name, though, if not easy to pronounce, is certainly recognizable because Schmietenknop has been gaining public attention much of her young life.
She was only 11 when she was chosen in 2003 as one of two Kamloops students to read their Canada Day essays at that year’s July 1 celebration in Riverside Park.
Five years later, the community applauded a 16-year-old Schmietenknop on winning the inaugural United Way Youth Community Service Award and, days later, on being crowned Miss Kamloops 2008/09.
At the time, the teenager spoke candidly about how she was a wallflower in high school, who didn’t dance and hated to speak in public. She entered that year’s Miss Kamloops program at the urging of her friends; they thought it would be a good way to broaden her horizons and bring her out of her shell.
They were right.
Since winning the Miss Kamloops pageant, Schmietenknop has emerged as one of this city’s most dedicated and accomplished young leaders.
She ran for election in 2011, collecting an impressive 2,722 votes — not enough to get a seat on the Kamloops-Thompson school board, but enough to further establish herself as an accomplished speaker with a quick mind and a genuine affinity for her community.
Now entering her third year of business administration at Thompson Rivers University, Schmietenknop continues to strive for higher goals. She and business partner Derk Hansens, also 20, are about to launch their own company — an as-yet-unnamed service that will help businesses with social media strategies.
As for the upcoming Miss B.C. pageant, she hopes to win one of the three ambassador positions if only to continue to dispel myths.
“There’s a really big misconception that all these programs are beauty based,” she said.
“It’s promoting inner beauty and confidence and, you know, your professionalism and your skills. It’s not promoting anything to do with how you look.”
It will be up to the judges to choose who will win the Miss B.C. title, but Kamloops residents can at least help Schmietenknop win the Peoples Choice award and a $1,000 scholarship by voting online at www.bcambassador.com/peoples-choice-ambassador.