Stephanie Aho: Miss Congeniality at Aquatennial

Princeton’s Stephanie Aho knows a thing or two about being Miss Congeniality.

The 2011 Princeton High School graduate was not only a Miss Princeton princess in 2011-12, she was selected by her peers as that pageant year’s Miss Congeniality.

And now a year later, the current Gustavus Adolphus student has earned the Miss Congeniality title on a much larger stage.

Aho was selected Miss Congeniality of the Minneapolis Aquatennial program’s Queen of the Lakes Scholarship Program by the other 47 candidates of the Queen of the Lakes program.

Aho was awarded the Miss Congeniality award, known as the “Dove True Beauty Award,” for her strong, positive self-image and exemplifying the power of being comfortable with who you are and what you believe in, according to Minneapolis Aquatennial officials. She was chosen by the other Queen of the Lakes Scholarship Program candidates for being a genuine, caring and a truly beautiful person, inside and out.

“It was a really great experience and I was fortunate to represent Princeton there,” Aho said.

What makes Aho’s crowning even more significant is the fact that she was filling in for 2011 Miss Princeton Rebecca Morton, who won the right to be a Queen of the Lakes ambassador when she won her title last June. But commitments to schooling kept Morton from being able to participate.

Aho recalled the Friday, July 20 coronation ceremony on the University of Minnesota campus.

“We were all sitting down on a set of nice bleachers in these beautiful white dresses when they called my name,” Aho said.

She was so surprised and recalls thinking how hard it was to get from the bleachers to the aisle in her big, white dress.

“I was shocked to be presented the award — and it was really cool that after being with the girls for only a week they saw something in me,” Aho said.

For being named The Dove True Beauty award winner, Aho will be receiving an engraved, tear-shaped plaque, she said.

Carly Smith of Red Wing was named the Queen of the Lakes moments after Aho received her award. Anna Surprenant of Sleepy Eye and Leah Kruc of Fridley were named princesses.

The coronation was the climax of a busy week for Aho and the 47 other contestants.

There were a multitude of judging sessions and interviews. Aho even gave an impromptu speech.

“We usually woke up about 5 a.m. and got to sleep pretty late,” she said.

The young women had an opportunity to volunteer at the Feed My Children soup kitchen and visited children with cancer and other diseases at the Ronald McDonald House. She went on a Mississippi River cruise, a boat patrol on Lake Minnetonka and had an opportunity to ride on one of three giant boats in the Queen of the Lakes entry in the Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight Parade. She even starred in the presentation of the annual candidates’ song, which this year was a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song, “Call Me Maybe.” The candidates’ version was appropriately called, “Crown Me Maybe.”

“They kept saying they would give us lifelong memories and they really, truly did that,” Aho said.

Aho is the first Miss Princeton to win an honor at the Aquatennial since Ann Minks was named a princess in 1987.