10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Erica Semsch, 26

Children’s Library Programmer at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library
Charity: Lebanon-Laclede County Public Library Foundation

The woman who receives the most votes during online voting and has the biggest crowd at the event will be able to donate a portion of the Indulge event ticket proceeds to her charity. The winner will be announced during Indulge.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you? 
The Lebanon-Laclede County Public Library Foundation is my charity of choice. The LLC Public Library Foundation is near and dear to my heart because the money it raises and receives directly impacts the literacy and education of my community. Libraries affect their communities so deeply and they sometimes go unnoticed or are taken advantage of. In my opinion, the library is the heart of the community and any nonprofit group, family or individual who supports their cause is caring for the literacy and education of the world. 

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?
I have volunteered with the Lebanon-Laclede County Friends of the Library group. The group also raises and donates money to the library. I have helped them organize the books for the Friends of the Library Book Sales they have throughout the year. They are an excellent group of folks who really care about the library and this community. They fund all the children’s programming and so much more, so they are very important to the library. I am also a volunteer at Bennett Spring State Park. We are working together to get a Little Free Library installed near the campgrounds. 

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
The things that make each woman unique from the next is what makes a woman beautiful. Originality is beautiful. When people feel passionately about something, it is beautiful.  

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud to be a big sister. I am thankful I have a job in the community where my sister is, so I can be a part of her life. I’ve had several opportunities in other states and I’m always glad I wound up in Lebanon so I could continue being involved. 

What was one particularly defining moment in your life? A life-changing moment.
I think the biggest life changing moment for me was when my little sister was born. I was almost 13 and it made me think about how I could set a good example for her—be a good role model. It’s safe to say I can thank her for how I decided what sort of person I wanted to be. She’s 13 now and she’s my favorite person in the world. 

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?
When I was a child, I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world—I still do. She’s Supermom, and Rockstar mom and a best friend. I’m thankful I’ve had her as my role model. 

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?
I would just tell girls to be themselves and have faith in themselves—it’s all about what’s on the inside. 

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?
I think people who don’t know me would be surprised at my interest in kayaking, hiking and other outdoor adventuring in my spare time. I don’t think you can tell by looking at me that I am a crazy plant lady and that I enjoy homebrewing with my boyfriend on the weekends. 

What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I’m really inspired by everyone in my life and by the people I meet in the community. Everyone has a story and has overcome obstacles in their lives. I am lucky to have a great support group in my family, friends and coworkers—but I’m also lucky to be able to work in a place where I have the chance to meet and talk with so many people with different life experiences. It’s humbling and inspiring to hear people talk about what they’ve been through and how they triumphed. 

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?
I find a lot of beauty in local nature. State parks, historic sites, conservation areas, national forests and the waterways of Missouri have so much to offer.

What do you think is the biggest issue or challenge 417-land is facing right now, and how would you tackle it?
Lack of world literacy is a huge problem here—everywhere, maybe. The word “literacy” can be defined as the ability to read and write or competence or knowledge in a specified area. I think we all need to practice looking apart from ourselves and just take in the world around us. 

Fill in the blank: Friends would describe you as “The ______ One.”
Friends would describe me as The Supportive One.

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on September 13 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.