Video by Logan Newman | News Reporter
Between dancing for about 15 years, attending Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, and working to help impoverished children since the age of five, alumna Alexa Rogers has a busy résumé.
She can now add the title of Miss Arizona.
As aftermath of this victory, she is allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant.“I never dreamed that I would be competing for Miss America,” Rogers said.
She doesn’t just mean this in the clichéd way. She means that until late 2013, she never even planned to enter a pageant.
Her friend Whitney Thomas, the winner of Miss Phoenix 2012, had been trying to convince her to enter for a couple years. Rogers originally scoffed at the idea.
“All I’d heard were the stereotypes,” she said. “I didn’t know that it was scholarship based or that they based a lot of it on service, or that you help out at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.”
Each pageant contestant has two platforms, or service areas they work to help. The national assignment platform, which each contestant is assigned, is the Children’s Miracle Network. This organization raises money for children’s hospitals and research.
Rogers chose the Real Gift Foundation to be her personal platform. Her mother, Conde Rogers, founded this organization in 2000.
“We benefit over 15,000 homeless children who attend schools in the Maricopa County,” Conde said.
The foundation helps provide Thanksgiving dinners, repairs playgrounds and collects school supplies for students and schools.
Conde said she sees other people performing community service every once in a while, but dedication and commitment is a big part of the Rogers’s life.
“I wanted it to be absolutely a part of our lifestyle as we grow up. We’ve got to take care of everybody in our world,” she said. To me, that’s the most important thing, who are you as a person and what are you contributing to society.”
Making a difference was a big factor in Roger’s decision to compete in beauty pageants.
“She saw a way to be able to make a bigger difference,” Conde said.
Rogers uses social media for that as well. She said she’s very active on it and shows people aspects of her everyday life. They see that despite her busy schedule, she makes time to volunteer.
“Showing people how easy it is to give back is probably my favorite part of social media,” she said.
Rogers is in the process of preparing a backpack drive to collect school supplies for homeless students. She has also been working to create a system in which the free and reduced lunch programs can be expanded.
Once impoverished students run out of meal tickets, they’re given a cheese sandwich for lunch. Not only is this malnutritious, she said, it also creates a negative social stigma that shows they’re homeless.
“Anything I can do and our community can do to help those kids get out of the cycle of poverty and get their education and further their lives and get better jobs, the better,” she said.
Community service is only one aspect of the beauty pageant. There’s also a 10-minute “media-style” time for judges to ask questions one-on-one with contestants. Rogers said Barrett especially helped her with this, teaching her about current events and how to better argue an opinion.
“(Judges) want someone who’s really well-rounded and is working to kind of make a pathway via trailblazer for women in the future,” she said.
Contestants can’t skip out on the beauty part of the pageant. Rogers has Tiffany Hilburn, her appearance coordinator, to help her. Hilburn says that despite Rogers’s only pageant experience being the Miss Phoenix and Miss Arizona pageants, Rogers doesn’t need much assistance.
“You don’t need to be someone who grew up in the ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ world,” Hilburn said. “Pageants today are very modernist about todays girl. … She’s just naturally being herself and she’s very eloquent.”
Reach the reporter at Logan.email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman