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This 26-Year-Old With Down Syndrome Has Big Dreams Of Making History For Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

It’s not every day that history is made in the model industry.

Sure, the field is one that has seen quite a bit of change in terms of diversity and representation in recent years, but if the current look of runways has anything to prove it’s that doors still need to be opened. This is true for the representation of people of color other ethnicities as well as those with differing gender identities and disabilities.

Twenty-six-year-old Mikayla Holmgren knows this truth and is striving to be the change she wants to see in the fashion and model industry.

Holmgren is a woman with Down syndrome and used to making history and striving for change.

In 2017, she became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA pageant. At the time she entered as a contestant in Minnesota’s competition. While she didn’t earn the crown for Miss Minnesota Holmgren did take home the Spirit of Miss USA award and the contest’s Director’s Award. It was the first time for a contestant with Down syndrome to take home any wins in the category.

Holmgren recently talked to Gretchen Carlson in a recent episode of PEOPLE (the TV Show!) about her latest goals and dreams of making history.

“We tell all our people who have special needs or Down syndrome, go ahead and do it,” Holmgren, who recently submitted her audition tape to Sports Illustrated, explained. “Just follow your dreams and then do things.”

On whether or not she is nervous, Holmgren explained that she has no nerves. “I just wait and see,” she explained, “and fingers crossed.”

Holmgren went on to share that more important to her than winning is her desire to encourage inclusivity.

“Just bring awareness and be more inclusive,” she explained. “Just spread the world. And does inclusive matter? No matter what, it’s from inside out. It’s follow your dream to go do it.”

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