Life has presented many challenges for Ellie Bochan in her 18 years. But those obstacles have taught her to stay determined, be flexible and remain upbeat.
She wants to teach others, especially young girls, about the power of positivity and confidence as she prepares to compete in the Miss Indiana Teen USA pageant. Bochan, the daughter of Dr. Mark and Angie Bochan of Carmel, will vie for the state crown July 16 and 17 at Noblesville High School.
Bochan, a high school senior who attends Laurel Springs, an online private college prep school, is a newcomer to pageant competitions. She and her mother watched a Miss Universe pageant on TV, and Bochan said the contestants’ ambition and determination inspired her to compete in the Miss Teen Indiana 2022 pageant. She had long wanted to be in pageants, but said she was timid and slightly awkward as a young girl.
“Fortunately, I grew out of that, and my new confidence and the encouragement of my parents has allowed me to reach for the stars,” she said.
Her path to pageant participation has been challenging.
Since around third grade, Bochan has struggled with severe anxiety that caused her to miss days and even weeks of school, affecting her studies and friendships. On Dec. 15, 2018, during Bochan’s eighth-grade year, her family’s home burned, and she lost everything. Her anxiety heightened as she missed more school.
The struggles continued, and she didn’t feel like she fit in at school. Before summer before her junior year, she was diagnosed with ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder and dyscalculia, a learning disorder. With treatment, her studies improved, but she still didn’t feel comfortable in a traditional school setting. She started high school at Park Tudor before transferring to Guerin Catholic and then opting for online studies.
“This was probably the best decision I ever made in my life,” said Bochan, who plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design and study fashion design. “The fire may have been a horrible tragedy, and regular school may not have been my thing, but it has shaped me into who I am today and changed my values for the better.”
Maria Montgomery, a professional model and former Miss Kentucky USA, has been coaching Bochan. Montgomery said they have been working on Bochan’s on-stage presence, interview skills, fitness walk, evening gown walks, public speaking and overall self-expression. Those skills will not only help Bochan compete in pageants but will serve her well in life, Montgomery said.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see how Ellie has improved in confidence since our very first session,” Montgomery said. “And at the end of the day, confidence is the key to success in life. If you learn to believe in yourself and work hard, you can achieve anything.”
Bochan wants to share what she has learned about being a confident and positive young woman, especially at a time when it seems those traits need to be promoted.
“Sadly, social media can be distorted and not a good influence when it comes to body positivity and positivity in general,” Bochan said. “My goal is to encourage young women to be authentic and proud of who they are.”