Twenty-six-year-old Mikayla Holmgren was recently a contestant in Miss USA. Now, she has applied to be considered as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model. If she is accepted by the magazine, she will become the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to have Down syndrome. Holmgren from Marine St. Croix, Minnesota, hopes that her attempt to break through to the other side can inspire other women with Down syndrome to go after their wildest dreams.

During her recent appearance in the Miss USA contest, Holmgren walked away with two awards because she impressed the judges so much. Not only would Holmgren be the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to have Down syndrome, but she was also the first woman with the developmental disability to compete in the beauty pageant. She hopes to make the world of modeling more inclusive by seizing opportunities that had been previously off-limits for people with Down syndrome.

The magazine’s annual Swim Search invites budding models to submit an application to be considered for the upcoming Swimsuit edition. In her video application, Holmgren explained why she would be the perfect person to be the first model with Down syndrome for the publication.

“To have Down syndrome in it is really to show others they can be more accepting. Sports Illustrated Swim has been such a champion of the diversity of beauty. Now is the time to include someone like me,” she said. “I am a dancer, a model, public speaker, and college graduate. I am the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in the Miss USA state pageant. I rocked my bathing suit on the stage. Now, it’s time to rock the magazine.”

“It could be more accepting and help people to learn,” Mikayla said. “People have a hard time – I can do it, but I couldn’t do it before. I did modeling for magazines, and I just loved doing it. Modeling is a creative art. I haven’t given up hope yet! I want to have my own clothing line someday and makeup. I want to go more into fashion and be a designer and do something with children. I want to achieve so much. I always dream big. I have goals and go do it. There’s nothing stopping people from living your life today. Just follow your dreams. It has been a good opportunity to have, to bring more excitement and be more involved, and it’s really cool doing it.”

Unfortunately, Holmgren received some bad news from Sports Illustrated. She did not make it onto the magazine’s list of top fifteen people in their list of Swim Search finalists. However, a man did make the list for the first time in the magazine’s history. However, she refuses to let this setback slow down her career.

“It felt kind of bad,” she confessed to the Today show. “I’ll wait until next year to compete.”

Mikayla Holmgren launched her modeling career back in 2015. Since she has been modeling, she has worked for companies including Sephora, Rosedale Mall, and Sigma Beauty.

In 2017, Holmgren competed in the Minnesota state’s preliminary competition for the Miss USA beauty pageant. She did not win, but she did receive the “Spirit of Miss USA” award. She also earned the Director’s Award.

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