Our 2021 Willmar Fests Candidates

Hamdia Dayib

Hamdia is the 21-year-old daughter of Khadra Ahmed and Ismail. Her second mom is Chris Lindgren. She is a 2019 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During school, Hamdia was involved in Track short-term. She was also a Year Role Model Student at Lakeland Elementary during her senior year and named Student of The Month in November. Hamdia is now enrolled at Ridgewater College where she is perusing a degree in Law Enforcement and is also of member of Kandiyohi Sheriffs Reserve. She always enjoys working with the Kandiyohi Sherriff’s Office for seatbelt and driving safety. Hamdia is very passionate about community and safety. She hopes to be a Police Officer and help her community in Willmar. Hamdia is currently a Paraprofessional at Roosevelt Elementary School and works at REM and Diversified Lifestyles Inc.. In her spare time, Hamdia enjoys going fishing, being outdoors, working out, hanging out with friends and family, playing with her seven cats and helping her family. Hamdia speaks several languages including English, Somali, and Amharic. She is also in the process of learning Spanish. Hamdia love helping peoples no matter what because a lot people helped her when she came to the United States. She believes that helping people is kind and important.

Hamdia’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Heritage Bank NA.


Kacy Knofczynski

Kacy is the 18-year-old daughter of William and Brenda Knofczynski. She graduated in spring of 2020 with highest honors from Willmar Senior High School. During high school, Kacy was active in Student Council, National Honors Society, volleyball, and track and field. She earned a varsity letter in academics all four years of high school, and was hoping to be a captain for track and field her senior year, but unfortunately did not have a season due to Covid. Throughout high school, Kacy has volunteered at many different places including blood drives, clothing drives, Relay for Life, vacation bible school, through her church, and much more! Kacy is currently furthering her education at Ridgewater College in Willmar for Nursing and will be starting the nursing program in Fall 2021. She hopes to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and get a job as a NeoNatal Nurse. Kacy continues her involvement in school with Phi Theta Kappa through Ridgewater and is currently employed at McMillan's Family Restaurant in Willmar as a server and loves it there. In her free time, Kacy loves to workout, bake, go shopping, and be with her family and friends.

Kacy’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is McMillan’s Family Restaurant.


Morgan Rein

Morgan is the 20-year-old daughter of Chandie and James Kraus, and Rachael and Josh Rein. She is a 2019 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Morgan was involved in dance and choir. She also worked as a CNA to save up for college. Morgan currently attends West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she is a Criminal Justice Major. She is an active member of the Criminal Justice Association on campus. After earning her degree, Morgan hopes to serve her community as a Peace Officer. While acquiring experience as a Peace Officer, she will also continue her education in hopes of joining the FBI. In her spare time, Morgan enjoys going fishing, being at the lake, hanging out with family and friends, and watching Netflix or Hulu.

Morgan’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Southwest Tours.


Jen Harasyn

Jen is the 19-year-old daughter of Greg and Kathy Krause. She is a 2020 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Jen participated in Softball, as well as Swimming and Diving, where she lettered and was a captain her senior year. Jen was also a member of choir, band, 2701 and National Honors Society. She was selected to represent Willmar American Legion Auxiliary at Girls State in June 2019. She also earned a letter in academics every year since 7th grade. Jen was active at Calvary Lutheran Church by singing in the worship band, helping the quilting ladies, and going on various mission trips, along with attending the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. Jen is currently attending University of Minnesota Duluth where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor study in Photography. After earning her degree, Jen hopes to become a child and adolescent clinical therapist to help be a voice for those who need one. Jen currently works at Build-A-Bear Workshop in Duluth. In her spare time, Jen enjoys spending time in the water, listening to and playing music, napping, and spending time with her niece, Annistyn.

Jen’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Maurices.


Sarah Carlson

Sarah is the 19-year-old daughter of Mike Carlson and Liz Carlson. She is a 2019 honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Sarah participated in Trap Shooting, Tennis, Track and Field, Speech, Student Council, National Honors Society, 2701 choral group, and various musicals throughout her four years. Sarah was the vice president of Student Council, a chair for National Honors Society as well as representing Willmar American Legion Auxiliary at Girls state. Sarah was active in her church community, including the church choir and teaching Sunday school. Sarah is currently attending the University of Mary where she is pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering. During the school year she continues serving by volunteering at a local soup kitchen and after school clubs. With her degree, Sarah hopes to give back by building up her community through her work. Sarah currently has an internship with Bollig Engineering in Willmar. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys hunting, fishing, being on the lake, and spending time with family and friends.

Sarah’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Bollig Engineering.


Mercedes Schueler

Mercedes is the 19-year-old daughter of Brian Schueler and Kristine Schueler. She graduated in 2020 with cords from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, she participated in FFA and held the Director, Stationary, an Treasure offices, while participating in Horse Judging, Livestock Judging, and Forestry. In 2016 she and her team placed 5th at state in Horse Judging. Mercedes was also involved in Tennis, Gymnastics, and Track while lettering in all three sports. Her senior year she was Co-Captain of the Gymnastics team. Mercedes enjoyed being involved in 4-H where she participated in the Horseprog ram, Dog Program, and General projects. While in the horse program, she was involved in Horse Training, Horse Judging, Team Speech and Demo, and Horse Bowl. She also competed at State Level at the Minnesota State 4-H Horse Show for; Horse Training, Team Speech and Demo, Horse Judging, Horse Related, and Pleasure Classes. While at State, Mercedes qualified for Nationals twice for Horse Judging and competed at Fort Worth, TX Youth World Championship (2015) and at Tulsa, OK Arabian Nationals (2019). She also attended the MN State 4-H Dog Show competing in Showmanship, Obedience, and Agility. She also attended General Encampment at the State Fair. Mercedes is now attending Ridgewater College and is transferring to South East Technical College for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. She currently works at Bethesda as a CNA. In her free time, she enjoys riding horses and hanging around friends and family.

Mercedes’ Willmar Fests Sponsor is DATA Success.


Jacky Diaz

Jacky is a 19-year-old, daughter of Fernando and Clara Diaz. She’s a 2019 Willmar Senior High School graduate. During school, Jacky spent most of her time focusing on academics and working to save money for college but she also made some time in the fall to participate on the Soccer team. Jacky is hoping to continue her education in business and sales this fall at Ridgewater College. She is currently a car sales consultant at our local dealership, Mills Auto Center. Jacky has a heart for giving back to her community and knows the importance of coming together to help those in their time of need. In Jacky’s free time she enjoys taking her dog out for walks, explores new places, and painting.

Jacky’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Pro Color Graphics.


Estela Irias

Estela is the 19-year-old daughter of Manuel Irias and step-daughter of Yahima Reyes-Guanche. She is a 2019 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During high school, Estela was involved in Volleyball and Cardettes. Estela is currently furthering her education at St. Cloud Technical Community College where she is majoring in health science to pursue a degree in Dental Hygiene. After earning her degree, Estela hopes to work in children’s pediatric dentistry because she enjoys working with children. Currently, Estela works as a nanny and also has her own small at home baking business during college. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing with her dog, watching Netflix, working out, being outdoors and eating.

Estela’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Bernick’s.


Stephanie Reyes

Stephanie is the 18-year-old daughter of Abel Reyes and Liliana Reyes. She is a 2020 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During school, she was involved in choir, cross country and track. She earned an athletic letter in cross country. Stephanie also enjoyed participating in one of the musicals during her time at Willmar Senior High. Stephanie is currently attending Ridgewater College where she is perusing a nursing degree. She is currently working as a CNA at a nursing home here in Willmar. Stephanie really enjoys helping people out. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Stephanie also likes going shopping, being outdoors, listening to music, and watching tv shows.

Stephanie’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Slumberland Furniture.


Stella Peppin

Stella is a 19-year-old daughter of Diane Peppin. She is a 2020 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During school, Stella was involved in Choir, Softball, Speech and Set Crew for the WHS Musicals. She also worked at Subway and Dunn Brothers during high school. Stella was involved with her youth group at First Covenant Church and she enjoyed singing Christmas carols at nursing homes, volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and the Food Shelf. When COVID hit, Stella moved to Oshkosh Wisconsin to pursue her career in nursing. She became a CNA and started working at Preferred Home Health Care and just recently accepted a job at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center. Stella is currently attending college at Fox Valley Tech to obtain her LPN and then will be pursuing her RN degree at the University of Wisconsin. Stella is very compassionate about what she does. In her spare time, she enjoys going to state parks, hanging out with friends and family, traveling, shopping and spoiling her two dogs!

Stella’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Willmar Bus Service.


Kylie Halvorson

Kylie is the 20 year-old daughter of Rhonda Otteson and Matthew and Jennifer Halvorson. She is a 2019 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While attending WHS, Kylie played for the girls soccer team and was recognized as a Central Lakes Conference Scholar Athlete, All Conference player, and team captain. During her senior year, Kylie joined the Speech team and competed in the “Humorous Interpretation” category. Her piece won several meets including the Central Lakes Conference as well as advancing to the State tournament and winning 8th place. She also competed on a National level with over 60 participants from across the country. Kylie was involved in the ELCA and became President of the Southwest Minnesota Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) board. Additionally, she participated in the Kandiyohi Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (KCEO) program and created a pop boutique specializing in curating vintage clothing. Kylie decided to further pursue her passion for fashion and is currently attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to obtain a degree in apparel design. During her freshman year, Kylie was awarded the University of Minnesota Twin Cities College of Design Outstanding Team Service Award for organizing and running a pop up shop with 5 other classmates to raise money for first year apparel design courses. After graduation, Kylie is planning on traveling to various countries and learning more about the impact of the fashion industry on a global scale. She is currently working as a service manager at a specialty salad restaurant called Crisp & Green and serves at the Oaks at Eagle Creek. In her free time, Kylie enjoys spending time with family, watching movies, sewing, knitting, and laughing with friends.

Kylie’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Jess Kubesh – Edina Realty.


Marah West

Marah is the 19-year-old daughter of Katheryn West. She graduated with honors from the Willmar Senior High School in 2020. While in high school, she participated in the school musicals, band, and choir, where she received Excellent ratings in Solo Ensemble. She took advantage of the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program her senior year of high school. Marah was also active on the school’s Knowledge Bowl team, winning various medals and earning third in Regionals which qualified them for the State Meet. Marah currently attends Minnesota State University Moorhead. She is pursuing a major in Biochemistry and Biotechnology with an Emphasis in Molecular Biochemistry and a minor in Neuroscience. Marah also plans on receiving a Certificate in Scientific Illustration. She would like to work in the field of brain development and neurological disorders and diseases. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places and playing with her dog. In her free time, she likes creating art, listening to music, learning new things, reading, cooking, and binge watching tv shows.

Marah’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Minnwest Technology Campus.