Mikayla Holmgren
Julie Mazziotta
November 28, 2017 09:35 AM

Mikalya Holmgren made history Sunday night as the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in Miss Minnesota USA.

The 22-year-old college student won the Spirit of Miss USA Award and Director’s Award.

Holmgren decided to apply for the pageant in April.

“I said, ‘I want to do this,’ ” Holmgren tells PEOPLE. “I want to show my personality. I want to show what my life looks like, being happy, and joyful. I want to show what Down Syndrome looks like.”

The Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota native, who is also an accomplished dancer, previously won the Minnesota Miss Amazing pageant, which features women with special needs. Holmgren says that she wasn’t nervous at all about applying for Miss Minnesota — just “super proud!”

Mikayla Holmgren

And she was thrilled to get in.

“I was just so happy and I had a smile on my face,” Holmgren says, of hearing the news.

Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA, says Holmgren was a perfect fit for the pageant.

“Mikayla is such an incredible and accomplished young woman. We feel she definitely has what it takes to compete at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant this fall in that she is the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful,” she tells PEOPLE.

RELATED VIDEO: Muslim Teen Becomes First to Wear a Hijab and Burkini in Miss Minnesota USA Pageant

 

The Miss Minnesota USA pageant also made headlines last year when it featured Halima Aden, the first contestant to wear a hijab.

Holmgren now has until November 26 to prepare, and she’s excited to make a difference as the first person with Down Syndrome to compete for the crown.

Mikayla Holmgren
Mikayla Holmgren

“That means my life is changing because of the pageant. I’m very proud of myself. It’s a new thing in my life,” she says. “I’m going to blaze the trail!”

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