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CB Loves Haley O'Brien, Miss Minnesota USA 2014!

You go to college right now. What is your favorite subject and why? 

I’m currently going to school for medical biology with a minor in chemistry, so I’d say I’m a tad bit biased toward the sciences (sorry English and History). I love organic chemistry, or as we nerds call it, “O-chem.” I remember when I first decided to become a premedical student I was warned time and time again of the torture that is organic chemistry. So when I sat in class that first day, I was scared half to death. Thankfully, the farther into the course I got, the easier it became. Now, I love organic so much that sometimes I find myself doing synthesis problems for fun. “Ok, let’s see, NaOH and a peroxide would move the carbon chain here because of rearrangement..” It’s kind of like my version of a crossword puzzle. Yeah, I know….. I need a life. Luckily, I left the course with an A and the title of “first ranked student.” Woo hoo!

Give three adjectives that your friends would describe you.

1. Nerdy –As you can probably see from my love of organic chemistry, I don’t hide my nerdiness. I am a self-professed nerd. I am obsessed with LOTR, or Lord of the Rings to normal folk. I am so obsessed that I not only own all three extended editions, the special edition chess set, and a life-size movie poster; but I am also the proud owner of both a LOTR paperweight and the Sky Mall “one ring to rule them all.” Come to think of it, I’m probably the only twenty-one year old that owns a paperweight let alone a LOTR-themed one.
2. Energetic – Whether it’s five in the morning or eleven at night, I am full of energy. Surprisingly, I can stay awake without the help of Redbull or coffee – although I do love a good mocha every so often. I’m like the energizer bunny. I just keep going and going and going…
3. Unique – I pride myself on being a natural redhead, which means I am one of 2% of the world’s population. We gingers are about as unique as they come.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Red, white, and blue. My hair is red, my skin is as white as paper, and I own way too many blue shirts. Some call it patriotic, others just say I’m a typical redhead with a blue shirt obsession.

How do you measure success?

Success is an extremely individualized measurement.  In pertinence to my life, I achieve success when I reach certain mile markers and/or goals in my life. For instance, I will feel successful when I gain acceptance to a medical school and when I am given my white coat upon graduating from that medical school. I will also feel successful on my wedding day and the days I give birth to my children. Success is the feeling that accompanies the knowledge that you have given your whole self to a cause or goal you hold dear.

How do you handle criticism?

I do not think anyone likes criticism; but as you grow older, you begin to understand the need for constructive criticism. When I was younger, I hated when someone told me to try harder or improve in a certain area; however, I now understand that if the criticism is coming from someone you love, it’s worth listening to. I am hopeful that I handle all forms of criticism well. If it is constructive criticism coming from someone who cares about my future and my well-being, I will listen and respond accordingly. If it is criticism meant only to hurt…like my older sister telling me that I look like an ugly mess, I will typically ignore it.  Love you, Erin!

If you were to come back as an animal in the next life, what would you be and why?

I would definitely be a giraffe! Why? Because they are the coolest looking animals I’ve ever seen. You can’t look a giraffe and not smile. Plus, if I was a giraffe, my neck would be so long that I could reach the freshest, tastiest leaves on the trees while the other animals had to eat the mushy ground leaves. Haha, suckers!

Name three pet peeves.

1. People who talk extremely loudly on their cell phones - My mother does this constantly. Every time she answers the phone its like she’s screaming. “HELLLLOOOOOOO!!” I always tell her she doesn’t need to shout, but she never listens. Maybe she can’t hear me over all the screaming…
2. When you’re driving on a two-lane highway and a person pulls up right behind you but doesn’t go around you. It always freaks me out!! I get so annoyed and start talking to myself, “Why don’t you go around me…. Just go around me!!”
3. When you buy electronics and they are packaged in that weird plastic wrapping that you can’t get off without scissors. You always try to bite it open but you just hurt yourself….

What will you never do?

Well, I’ll never jump of a building without a parachute, eat a pizza blindfolded while driving, or cut off my own hand with a rusty fork…. There are a lot of things I will never do. But the one thing I can say I’ll never do with confidence is any type of illegal drug. I have absolutely no interest in that type of activity whatsoever.

Can you survive without Diet Coke and Leeann Chin?

Ooooo, that’s a tough one. I probably could, but not for very long. I think I’d die within days, maybe even hours. No, I am capable of living without them. Surprisingly…brace yourself….. I haven’t had a Diet Coke or Leeann Chin in over a month, and….I’m still alive! I know.. I’m as surprised as you are.

True or False: People who are attractive tend to be more successful?

False - Ironically, I did a field research study on this exact topic. As I mentioned previously, I am a bio-medical major; however, I hold a double major in psychology as well. As my honor’s capstone research project, I conducted a field study entitled, “Beauty Blind.” To summarize the study in short, I conducted numerous field experiments in one of two conditions. The first condition (I) being one where my appearance was socially labeled as  “unattractive” and the second (II) being one where my appearance was socially labeled as “attractive.” In other words, I conducted seven different field experiments while being either “unattractive” or “attractive” and registered people’s responses to my outer appearance. The conditions were controlled with a talented group of makeup and hair professionals who were capable of changing my outer appearance to fit the desired condition, being either “unattractive” or “attractive.” The results were somewhat disheartening. I was treated with much more kindness and respect when I appeared “attractive” versus “unattractive.” 

During one field experiment titled “Five Dollars Short,” I was given permission by the store clerk to underpay for a group of items at a local grocery store despite being five dollars short. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of the halo effect. The halo effect revolves around the occurrence that we as humans unconsciously associate attractive individuals with other good qualities, such as honesty, intelligence, and health. Therefore, we are more apt to treat them with kindness or go out of our way to help them. Unfortunately, the halo effect is not limited to attractiveness. It goes hand in hand with stereotyping, racism, and sexism. It is said time and time again that attractive individuals are statistically more likely to make more money. This occurs NOT because attractive people are more successful, but because we as a society unjustly award people with certain qualities unfair advantages. During the experiment I conducted, I was the same person with the same personality. I treated people in the same manner and used the same script of words. The only thing I changed was my outer appearance. This type of change should not have brought about the large differences in treatment I experienced. We as a society need to start looking past the physical, and begin measuring one’s capability for success by means such as work ethic, passion, intellect, and commitment.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

It sounds extremely cheesy and cliché, but I’d love to have every person in this world be able to look in the mirror and love what he/she sees.

Do you have a problem saying "no"?

It really depends who is asking me for something. If my little brother is asking me for money, saying “no” is no problem! On the other hand, if it is my best friend asking me to help her with something, it will be tough for me to say no.

Describe a romantic date.

Oh boy. Is there an unlimited budget for this date? ;) Hmmm…let’s see. Mr. Tall, dark, and handsome would come pick me up from my house on a white stallion. He would be bearing gifts of chocolates and flowers. He would tell me I was breathtakingly beautiful even though I was wearing St. Cloud State sweatpants and a Star Wars t-shirt. We would head off to an ice cream parlor where we would talk and eat mountains of ice cream together…because everyone knows any date with ice cream is a good date (unless your lactose intolerant…). We would then head off to a nearby lake where we would canoe out to an area filled with swans, which I would proceed to feed. It would then begin to rain and we would have to quickly row back to shore (I may or may not have stolen that portion from the notebook…). Later, after it had stopped raining, we would finish the night off with a stroll on the beach during sunset. He would then drop me back at my house, walk me to the door like a gentleman, and tell me that I could keep the horse. That would be one killer date.

Your craziest or funniest tweet so far.

I am a true Minnesotan. I just wore shorts to go buy wild rice at Target.”

Why do you want to be the next Miss USA?

I remember watching my first Miss USA pageant when I was eight. I sat on the floor of the living room staring at the beautiful girls that walked the stage. Every single one of them appeared like a goddess to me, floating across the glittering stage in their elegant evening gowns. Of course, I was quick to find Minnesota and cheer as loudly as I could for her. I felt a connection to her. She was from Minnesota and so was I. She was, to me, always the most beautiful contestant. I swore to myself I would be her one day - even though my older sister was always there to remind me I was too ugly. Thanks, Erin. 

Then, in 2010 I decided to compete for the title of Miss Minnesota Teen USA. I was lucky enough to win. I was crowned the same time as my sister queen, Courtney Basara, Miss Minnesota USA 2010. It was not till that year that I realized why I had always wanted to compete for Miss USA. Courtney showed me first hand the purpose of pageantry. As a seventeen-year-old girl, I looked up to her. I elevated her to a different level than anyone else I have ever known. She was my role model. I wanted to be just like her. Thankfully, Courtney is an amazing person. Through her studies as a mechanical engineer, she showed me that beauty and brains can coincide. She showed me that you can never be too giving, too kind, or too humble. She showed me that the beauty queens I once idolized were real, kind, funny, and even a little bit nerdy. They were people just like me. 

I want to be the next Miss USA because I want to be that example to someone. I don't want to be an aloof, untouchable "beauty queen." I don't want to be someone who intimidates with her beauty. Instead, I want to use beauty to inspire. I want to be someone's "Courtney." I want to be the best friend to someone who needs it, the older sister to someone who doesn't have one, or the listening ear to someone who feels like no one cares. I want to be the beauty queen that is inviting and welcoming. I would love to be a Miss USA that girls can "hang out with." A Miss USA that they could see watching scary movies with in sweatpants while eating Cheetos. It is that type of person that can have the biggest effect on young women's lives. Courtney was not my role model just because she wore that "Minnesota" sash on the glittering Miss USA stage, but because I was able to share intimate conversations with her in our t-shirts and sweatpants. It was those heart to heart moments of real human interaction with a beauty queen that have inspired me the most.





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