Rebecca Anderson, an OC resident, heads to Miss America pageant
As she prepares to head to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Miss America 2015 Pageant, Oregon City resident and Portland State University graduate Rebecca Anderson is looking forward to the competition aspect and meeting the other contestants.
Anderson, 23, was named Miss Oregon in Seaside on June 28, and leaves for the national pageant on Aug. 31; Miss America airs on KATU at 8 p.m. on Sept. 14.
While she spends two weeks rehearsing, attending charitable events, and doing video shoots, she encourages folks back home to visit missamerica.org/vote and vote for her to become the America’s Choice contestant in the pageant; voting closes on Sept. 11.
Anderson says she would love to make the top 15 so viewers can see Oregon represented nationally.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity, and I want to truly make the state of Oregon proud,” Anderson says.
Although many associate the Miss America pageant with beauty, Anderson says talent and the interview process are the highest-scored categories.
“I’ve been studying current events and doing roundtable discussions, as well as rehearsing my talent,” she says. She will sing “Let It Go,” from the “Frozen” soundtrack, for her talent presentation.
Calling the interview process “the best training for any career,” she says she used her college education and opinions to answer questions during preliminary rounds at Miss
Oregon pageants in the past.
Anderson graduated from Portland State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a minor in sustainability. She has been able to pay for her entire college education, using more than $17,000 in scholarship money she won from competing in pageants.
Anderson plans to attend graduate school and get a second bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science, but “being Miss Oregon is a full-time job, and it’s my duty to be the face of the state, so I must take a year off from school. While it’s challenging, I’ve had the most magical time growing and seeing this state,” she says.
All contestants pick a platform, focusing on an issue they’re passionate about. Anderson’s is the Red Cross. She will make a guest appearance, joining the firefighters of Station 22, at the Cody Hermeling Red Cross Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 30 at Yur’s Bar & Grill in Northwest Portland. Hermeling was in a near-fatal car accident in 2010, and 187 pints of blood saved his life.
She says the first event she attended as Miss Oregon was on July 1 at the grand opening of the USO at the Portland Airport.
“We haven’t had a USO in Portland for over 40 years, so to be in the presence of such an important event was so inspiring. I was asked to perform the national anthem, with the color guard, members from every branch of the military, and Sen. Ron Wyden in attendance. I will always remember being a part of such a momentous event,” Anderson says.
Throughout her year as Miss Oregon, Anderson also will make appearances at schools around the state, promoting the Red Cross and STEM education, both of which are “incredibly important” to her.
Anderson says the Miss Oregon program has changed her life, boosting her confidence and helping her figure out who she is and how she fits into the world.
“It wasn’t until I started pageants when I was 19 that I started to gain confidence in myself. I realized that what people say about me don’t matter. I’m powerful on my own,” she says.
“At the end of the day, it’s a scholarship program, and I’ll be able to put myself through school because of it,” she says, adding, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without this organization.”
Does the beauty aspect of the pageant send the wrong message to young women?
“Every day we’re judged for our looks. In our judging process, there is only one category that has anything mentioned about beauty, and it is one of the lowest scores on the spectrum,” Anderson says.
She adds, “Seldom is it the most beautiful girl or the skinniest who wins. We joke that it’s our looks that get us in the door,” but the winner is “the woman who can articulate her passions, goals and inspirations and is driven for change.”