Miss Idaho 2014 Sierra Anne Sandison turns engineering advocate

18 Nov 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Sierra Anne Sandison represented Idaho at Miss America 2014 and instantly caught everyone’s attention as she wore an insulin pump on national television during the swimsuit competition. Sierra was placed at the Top 15 of the competition has now made to the spotlight again for turning into an advocate for Type 1 diabetes and an engineer after finishing her degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering.

The diva has now recently put her name back into the beauty pageant arena with the aim of empowering women who might want to enter the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 18-years-old and hoped that it would just disappear but it didn’t and she was already dealing with body image issues. She later came across Nicole Johnson who was the first one to wear an insulin pump at the competition of Miss America 1999 and it was an eye-opening moment for her as she realized wearing an insulin pump would not make her look any less beautiful.



The diva added, “If any of my peers had a problem with me wearing a medical device, then their opinions weren’t really worth worrying about anyways. I slowly realized that this was true for every ‘flaw’ I saw in myself.”

Not only she wore an insulin pump at the competition but also launched the viral #showmeyourpump campaign, which encouraged people worldwide to post pictures of their medical devices proudly, decreasing stigma, increasing awareness, and greatly impacting the confidence of many who now wear their medical devices with pride. The hashtag has now been used almost 20K times on social media alone. She has published a book titled ‘Sugar Linings’ about her experiences, and embraced the public speaking circuit at diabetes conferences around the country. She even biked across America with Beyond Type 1 (BT1) in 2017.

The diva decided to enter the pageant world again and participated at Miss Idaho USA 2020 where she was placed as the first runner-up. Even though she lost the crown to Kim Layne, she feels that her messages of empowerment are taking on a broader scope. She mentioned, “One thing I’ve learned over the years is that this wasn’t just inspiring to little girls scared of wearing their insulin pump, but to all genders and ages. As I was preparing for the recent competition, I wanted to get outside of just the diabetes box and this condition.”

Sierra feels that as she has now established herself as an independent woman, she focuses on her health now and feels attentive towards the organization who don’t address the disease directly. She recently became an advocate for the T1International #insulin4all movement, which is categorically critical of organizations that accept money from the pharma industry.



The diva who holds a major degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in biomedical engineering has a strong desire to empower other women to enter STEM fields. Her motto is “I want to inspire girls even when it’s difficult, and to love themselves, medical devices, and all.” She would also like to change the perspective of the girls who don’t have enough female engineers which limits down their imagination of what’s more that can happen for a woman or do they have any scope in this field.

With her biomedical engineering minor, Sierra is considering working on medical devices by perhaps joining a company like insulin pump maker Tandem Diabetes Care but is also tempted by the ultra-creative and fun sides of STEM. Currently, she is working as an engineering intern at a toy company founded by Caleb Chung, who created the famous talking robot, Furby, in the 1990s. She also loves the idea of starting her own Boise-area franchise that could not only help inspire kids to become engineers but bring in elements of diabetes and medical devices.

Sierra aspires to be a female engineer who is a counterpart of Bill Nye the Science Guy who appears regularly on Netflix or YouTube. “I want to help people understand what engineering is and what it can be used for. There are so many exciting things, and no one as a kid connects engineering with those exciting career options,” she added.