Morgan McMichen, 24, is a Master’s student of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. She is set to graduate in December of 2014 with plans to begin her PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology in New York after her reign as Miss Czech-Slovak US is completed.
Morgan not only was awarded queen but also Authentic Kroj and Oratory Award. She said "I am humbled by all the wonderful supporters of the Miss Czech-Slovak US organization. I am excited to represent our great culture." Morgan will also enjoy the traditional Miss Czech-Slovak Queen Trip and a $250 educational scholarship awarded by Dr. Cecilia Rokusek, Slovak Honory Consul of Florida in memory of her parents John and Alice "Fiala" Rokusek. In total, Morgan was award $5500 in cash scholarships.
Morgan, daughter of Theresa and James McMichen grew up in Independence, Missouri. After High School she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Cultural Anthropology. Upon graduating in December of 2012, she began her current degree in Granada, Spain and was able to travel across Europe and even to Africa.
Morgan has always had a love for culture, language, and heritage. She began asking questions at a very young age about her own. Her grandmother was her biggest advocate in teaching her about her Czech ancestors. She would recite poems and folktales in Czech for Morgan and tell her about family traditions. Her first Czech relatives, Jan and Anna Pecenka of Litomyšl, Pardubice (Czech Republic) arrived in the United States in the midst of the American Civil War. Escaping the Austro-Hungarian war, they wondered if “the grass was greener” on the other side. Needless to say, the decided to make the new land their home. They settled in Marysville, KS where there is still the Pecenka Family Cemetery. She is excited to visit the Czech Republic and Slovakia and to see the place where her ancestors once resided in addition to many other historical sites.
Morgan is extremely proud of her rich heritage. She recognizes that the Czech/Slovak peoples have endured many adversities over time and yet they have kept a tight hold on their dignity and unique customs. For this reason, she is adamant to keep the precious traditions alive. As the national queen, she will strive to increase youth involvement in the festivals and the pageant, as she believes it is the key to the preservation of the culture. She would like to thank her sponsors, the Miss Czech-Slovak MO pageant, her family and loved ones, and the Wilber Czechs. She is excited to see what this upcoming year will bring, and as a true Czech, she is determined to give it her all.
"As I write my last update as national queen, just hours before my flight to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, I cannot help but think how bittersweet these last weeks will be. Part of me is ready to pass my crown and start other chapters in my life which have been put on hold in order to carry out this tremendous honor. The other half feels like I am just getting started. It is an understatement to say that this year has flown by. It has flown by at the speed of light leaving me with just a couple more appearances before I pass this honor onto the next deserving young lady. That being said, I may be passing my crown in just a short few weeks, but the duty to serve my Czech and Slovak community will never expire.
Today, I will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean as my brave ancestors did 150 years ago! They set out in search of opportunity, political justice, and finally a peaceful place they could call home. A land to whom they would remain loyal. A land they would love. Arriving in the midst of the Civil War and settling in a border state was not ideal for them. Needless to say, they embraced the new land, devoted themselves to the fields of Kansas, honored their duty as townspeople, and made the town of Marysville their own. They worked hard, built their community, pushed their children to be educated and didn't shy away from a little fun on the weekends with their family Polka band. They laid a new foundation in the unknown but always remembered the bohemian prairies they once walked. In less than 24 hours, I will walk these prairies. I will know the beloved land that my ancestors had to leave. I will see the meadows they sang about and touch the waters they drank from. I will know a part me all thanks to the support I have received from family, friends, Czech and Slovak community members, the National Pageant, and the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber.
Since my last update, I was able to attend the Iowa pageant with Missouri state queen Gaby Salva as well as judge the Wisconsin pageant just two weekends ago. Both were amazing experiences that left me hopeful for the future of not only our pageants, but our upcoming generations. When I return from my trip I will visit the Kansas pageant and my family farm in Marysville, KS, settled by my first Czech ancestors. Just one week later, another year of national pageant festivities will begin and I will return home a former queen.
I must say that, I am truly at ease with putting my crown at rest on August 2nd. Yes it is beautiful, yes I have enjoyed prancing it around at every opportunity, and yes I want to forever be the queen! However, I have seen the passion in the hearts of many of the contestants I was lucky enough to meet this year. Many have reached out to me asking for help in continuing the foundation I have laid in uniting coastal and mainland Czechoslovaks, uniting the generations, and making sure our future generations carry on our beautiful legacy. I has been my pleasure to connect the state queens with the contacts I have made, namely on the coasts, so that they too can work towards a common goal in solidifying our entire community in the US. In addition, they have shared their own visions and goals with me. It makes my heart smile to know that although there may only be one national queen each year, there are so many who will help to keep our community alive and thriving.
I encourage us all to do what we can, though it may seem small, to keep our heritage alive and not let our ancestors hard work and sacrifice be in vain. We alone cannot carry this legacy but when we work together, it is more than possible. I have had the experience of a lifetime serving as your national queen! I am thankful for each and every person who supported me in this journey! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see my amazing pictures from the motherland. Otherwise, see you in Wilber!"