2016 Queen of Snows Candidates

Afton Kielsa

Sponsored by River Run Team ReMax Results

Afton KielsaAfton spent the majority of her life on the East side of Saint Paul and continued her love of Saint Paul by pursuing her degree as a 2011 graduate of Saint Catherine University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise & Sports Science and a Minor in Coaching, which this ISI World Champion loves to teach figure skating. One of her greatest accomplishments was when she was appointed to the Naval Academy by Senator Norm Coleman, but she chose to remain in Saint Paul. As an outgoing and energetic professional with a successful record of embracing new challenges, she currently works full time at The Olive Garden as a Certified Trainer where she is accountable for guest satisfaction by ensuring the highest service standards are met for guests. Afton has a passion for making a difference in the lives of many individuals and animals by being an enthusiastic volunteer for the Animal Humane Society, Como Zoo, and The Royal Sisterhood. Volunteering is truly the love of her life; for over 6 years she has dedicated her time to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and now sits on planning committees for the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation. In her spare time, Afton loves bargain shopping, baking, exercising, watching movies, walking her dogs, and spending time with her family and friends.

Alyssa Ortiz

Sponsored by J&J Temperature Controlled Storage, Inc.

Alyssa OrtizAlyssa Ortiz was born and raised in the great city of Saint Paul and currently resides in its wonderful neighboring city of West Saint Paul. She graduated with honors from Dakota County Technical College receiving an AAS in Dental Assisting. Alyssa was presented the opportunity to begin her career after successfully completing her internship at Dr. Midtling’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery office located in Saint Paul. One of the most rewarding things about her job is being able to comfort and calm her patient’s nerves prior to surgery. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her family, fishing (on a dock, on a boat, or in an ice house), creating projects from her favorite website Pinterest, and baking cakes with her 6 year old sister. She is extremely excited to have the opportunity to be 2016 Queen of the Snows candidate. Previous titles include: Miss West St. Paul 2013.

Alyssa Sigafus

Sponsored by Ideal Printers Inc.

Alyssa SigafusAlyssa Sigafus is 26 years old and lives in the Plymouth area. She has been married to her husband Daniel for 3 years and they have a 2 year old daughter named Sophia. She currently works at Ameriprise Financial in downtown Minneapolis and is a coordinator for the Big Lake Ambassador Program. Alyssa is a part time student finishing her Communications and Leadership degree at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. When she is not spending time with her husband or daughter, she volunteers with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as a language facilitator, or the Deaf Blind as an intervenor. She enjoys performing Traditional Irish Step Dancing, painting, and photography.

Chelsea Bolier

Sponsored by Rice Street Festival

Chelsea BolierChelsea has lived in Saint Paul all her life, and is proud to have earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in English from the University of Saint Thomas in 2015. While at the University of Saint Thomas, Chelsea was the President of the Liturgical Choir, a member of the Dean’s List, a member of the Tri-Beta Biology Honors Club, and a tutor for the Get Ready College Awareness Program, where she mentored middle and high school students at various Saint Paul Public Schools. She is currently applying to the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy graduate program, where she hopes to continue pursuing her dream of becoming a Pharmacist. Chelsea works at Walgreens as a Certified Pharmacy Technician, where she enjoys serving people in her community every day. She also works for Brock White Company, LLC, a construction materials supplier headquartered in Saint Paul, as an Accounting Assistant. In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys reading, singing, volunteering in her community, and spending time with friends and family.

Emily Hoene

Sponsored by Power Plumbing

Emily HoeneEmily Hoene graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in International Management. This past fall she graduated from Cigna’s IT leadership development program where she works as an IT project manager. She recently moved to Minneapolis where she lives with her dog Bert. In her free time, she enjoys coaching Special Olympics, spending time at the cabin and eating her favorite local candy bar, Pearson’s Salted Nutroll.

Heather Westling

Sponsored by Quality Insurance Service

Heather WestlingOriginally from Howard Lake, Heather Westling has made Hopkins her home for the past six years. She enjoys making a difference with her career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, enriching the lives of her patients and their families. Her favorite pastimes include knitting and crocheting, going to musicals, and spending as much time as she can with her nieces and nephew. Her most recent accomplishment has been learning the ins and outs of home improvement while personally remodeling her home with the help of her uncle. If you are ever in need of a quick or obscure movie quote, Heather is your girl.

Jeana Steigauf

Sponsored by Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic

Jeana SteigaufBorn and raised a true Minnesotan, with an accent to prove it, Jeana has found throughout her personal and professional achievements that kindness, caring, and passion have molded her into the young woman she is today. She enjoys donating her time to help strengthen the Woodbury Ambassadors Scholarship program as a past ambassador, volunteer, candidate coordinator and mentor.

Jennie Albert

Sponsored by Northern Prairie Financial 

Jennie AlbertJennie Albert has lived in Brooklyn Park for 17 years and has been an accountant for 12 years. Her husband Mike was the 2011 Count of Ashes for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and her daughter Sara was the 2014 Princess of Ice for the junior royalty. Jennie is an avid volunteer and is part of the Executive Committee for the Tater Daze festival in Brooklyn Park, has been the leader and cookie mom of a Girl Scout troop for 6 years, is a member of the Brooklyn Park Women of Today, has fostered over 50 kittens with a local animal rescue, and many other volunteer activities. Jennie has 2 cats and a dog and speaks Spanish as a second language. In her free time, Jennie enjoys traveling, Texas Hold’em poker, knitting, and spending time at their camper in Crosby, MN.

Keyah Adams

Sponsored by Apitz Painting, Inc

Keyah AdamsKeyah Adams is the oldest of four children, ranging 21 to 2 years old. Keyah is currently a student at Hamline University in St. Paul studying in Biological Anthropology and would like to continue to a graduate program in Hawaii to practice her field in East Asia. When she is not working or in class, Keyah loves spending time with her family, especially her siblings, drawing, and photography. Her family pushes her to reach for her goals and pursue things that greatly interest her. She is very excited to be a 2016 St. Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows candidate and cannot wait to meet all of the amazing people that help with the festival and gain new lifelong friendships.

Kyla Bernardy

Sponsored by Fridley American Legion American Post 303

Kyla BernardyKyla Bernardy, 22, of New Brighton, is sponsored by the Fridley American Legion Post 303. Bernardy is a Purchasing Intern at U.S. Water in Saint Michael, Minnesota. Bernardy is a graduate (Dec 2015) of Metroplitan State University in Saint Paul, MN where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Individualized Studies with a focus in Business Communications and Supply Chain Management. Bernardy also has an Associates in Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts from Hennepin Technical College where she graduated with Honors and was a part of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. In Bernardy’s free time she loves to coach basketball, cook, travel the world, and hangout with family and friends. Bernardy also held the title of Fridley Princess in 2010-2011.

Madison Jerde

Sponsored by Wold Architects & Engineers

Madison JerdeA Minneapolis native, Madison recently graduated Cum Laude from Iowa State University, where she earned in a B.F.A. in Graphic Design, and supporting minors in Spanish and Advertising. Having recently joined Wold Architects and Engineers in downtown St. Paul as a Marketing Coordinator, she also enjoys doing freelance graphic design work in her spare time. When she’s not being critical of typography on restaurant menus, you can find her attending social and cultural events throughout the Twin Cities, and borrowing too many books from her local library.

Mallory West

Sponsored by Fury Motors of South St. Paul

Mallory WestMallory West is a proud resident of St. Paul. She enjoys her work on the other side of the river at Meshbesher & Spence, Ltd. She enjoys travel and spends downtime journaling. Mallory also enjoys staying active and socializing over good food.

Peggy Ly

Sponsored by Mama T’s Castle Tap

Peggy LyPeggy is a former Circle Pines native and current resident of Roseville. She is a dual licensed dental assistant and hygienist and earned her Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Minnesota State University, Mankato. With her dental training she gives her time to many that are unable to obtain dental services through organizations like “Give Kids a Smile”, “Project Homeless Connect”, “Union Gospel Mission of St. Paul”, “Christina’s Smile”, and many more. In her free time she likes to spend time with friends and family, reading, watching cheesy movies, and always tries to keep moving and stay active.

Rahila Hungiapuko

Sponsored by SevenHills Benefit Partners

Rahila HungiapukoRahila Hungiapuko is an enthusiastic resident of the Twin Cities and is thrilled and honored to be considered a Queen of the Snows candidate for the 2016 Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Rahila is an avid lover of the performing arts, as she is involved with numerous community theatres and organizations. Rahila graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Communication from Bethel University in 2012. Rahila plans to obtain a Juris Doctor within the next few years and would like to work within the juvenile justice programs. Rahila is truly passionate about children’s welfare and education and is actively involved with children’s ministry and after school mentoring.

Rebecca Cooper

Sponsored by The Bungalow Inn of Lakeland

Rebecca CooperRebecca is a 4th generation resident of Saint Paul. She has over 23 years of military service. After she retired from the military she achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a Librarian. She currently works for both Hennepin and Ramsey Country Libraries, while also being the CEO for Cooper & Cooper Consulting, a Woman owned Service Disabled Veteran owned Small Business. She is an active volunteer in her community supporting local youth sports as a hockey and baseball mom. She also actively participates in her church, Saint Mary of the Lake. She is married to Curt Cooper and proud mother of Conor, 13; Carson; 10 and Cadence, 8.

Shakira Bradshaw

Sponsored by Healing Connections Therapy Center

Shakira BradshawShakira is a 2011 graduate from Hamline University and she currently works for US Bank in their corporate office. She got married this past August and they are planning a trip to Italy for their first year Anniversary. Shakira is running this year in memory of her mother, who passed away unexpectedly in September. Her mom taught her love of people, animals and that it’s okay to be a class clown. She looks forward to sharing that with everyone this year.

Shannon Cherep

Sponsored by Gopher Bar/Global Fund Charitable Foundation

Shannon CherepShannon graduated from UMD in 2006, and is employed at the Flint Hills Resources refinery. She currently lives in South St. Paul, and has two cats and one (very large) dog. She is proud to have a bucket list that she tries to consistently cross things off of (some of them thanks to her supportive husband!), but is also always adding to. So far she has visited nine countries, 15 states, gone skydiving, & kissed the Blarney Stone to name a few! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, taking boat or motorcycle trips, and always trying to live life to the fullest.

Tiffany Swenson

Sponsored by Automated Photo Technology

Tiffany SwensonTiffany Swenson is extremely proud to be sponsored by her employer, Automated Photo Technology, where she currently works as a Production Manager, a field she has over ten years experience in, and where she is able to provide clients with lasting, life long memories. Even though she now resides in Burnsville, this Saint Paul native has cherished memories of being raised in Minnesota’s Capital. Tiffany enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Jim, and their two daughters, and as a mother she wants to lead a positive, healthy, and happy lifestyle. She was recently awarded her certification as a Health Coach and has found great joy in helping to guide clients on their own newfound journey. Tiffany is very excited to be a Queen of the Snows Candidate and is looking forward to all the memories she will be creating.


Photographs by: Darrin & Emily Photography