A queen among students

Graphic by Luu Nguyen Photo by Luu Nguyen

Jordan Wessel feels pretty out of place when she has any rare moment of down time. But she doesn’t look like it.

Take today for instance - she looks chic in a royal-blue maxi skirt with her blonde hair in waves while waiting in line at Starbucks. She says this will be her first ever “Sunday funday” since turning 21 in September. She plans to meet her friends at RnR in Scottsdale for drinks. Between photo shoots, walking at Phoenix Fashion Week, modeling for Bikini.com and doing various charity events, you can say it’s a busy life for Miss Arizona USA 2014 – and that’s only this week’s schedule.

“I just got back from celebrating my birthday in New York City,” she says as she sits down. “We stayed right in the heart of Times Square, went to a party with Swizz Beatz, I was hugging Naomi Campbell backstage of New York Fashion Week. It was crazy.”

Jordan Wessel is tall and slender with bright blue eyes, and all eyes are on her when she walks in. After capturing the title of Miss Arizona USA last November, which was her very first pageant, she fell into a whirlwind journey that led her to the Miss USA pageant this past summer in Baton Rouge, where she placed in the top 20.

“I’m from a really small town,” she says. “I’m from a town where everyone knew everyone. I had a boyfriend; I had my life figured out. Then I came to Arizona State, where nobody knows anyone, then suddenly I’m Miss Arizona USA. There was no adjustment period for me at all.”

Wessel, who is from Colorado Springs, Colo., decided to compete for Miss Arizona USA on a whim – the way she says it, she had an opportunity and took it, and in the process made some of her strongest friendships.

According to Alexis Mouer, who competed for the Arizona title with Wessel last November, the crown has never defined her.

“Competing together only made me realize how incredible of a human she is,” Mouer says. “We have never been competitive, she genuinely hopes that everyone makes it. She is so inspiring, and she convinces you that you can – and will – do anything you put your mind to.”

Those behind the scenes of the Miss Arizona USA organization, Casting Crowns Productions, also feel Wessel has excelled at her position.

“Jordan has been an incredible titleholder for us this year,” said Ashley Phillips, executive assistant at Casting Crowns. “She has done numerous appearances here in the Valley and we are so proud of her. She is a beautiful young lady, both inside and out.”

Inspiring is the perfect word to describe Wessel.

“Preparing for Miss USA was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she says, looking away. “My health went out the window. It was so much stress, and I think the idea of what I wanted got a little skewed. Mentally, I just wasn’t my best self.”

A nutrition junior who dreams of opening her own health and fitness clinic, Wessel faced years of health problems of her own before coming to college, where doctors diagnosed her with multiple illnesses, all of which kept her bedridden for over two years.

“I pretty much lived at Mayo Clinic,” she says, remembering the experiences. “Stomach pains – excruciating stomach pains. I couldn’t eat anything without getting sick. Muscle pains, my head was pounding. I just couldn’t get myself to do anything. I was on medication that changed me completely. I refused to go out in fear of getting sick, until finally I’d just had enough.”

After her multiple diagnoses, Wessel decided to completely remove gluten from her diet, and paved her way to a healthy life by means of exercise and nutrition. She competed in her first fitness competition, National Physique Committee Bikini, before capturing the Arizona crown. Wessel said she’d never felt better.

Now, with only a month left with her title, she can’t believe her journey is already coming to a close. But anyone who says she hasn’t used her title to its fullest clearly hasn’t been following her year. She plans to finish her education after passing on the crown, but says overall, her journey hasn’t been easy.

“My faith has played a big role,” Wessel says as she finishes her latte, ready for her well-deserved “Sunday funday.”

“I had a really rough few years, and now I’m realizing I’ve been blessed so much – it’s been a powerful experience. Now I know that whatever I get in my life, I owe it to God.”

Reach the writer at hmetter@asu.edu.


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