Miss AK prepares for national stage

For one Alaskan, the month of January
is not just the start of a new year, but the
beginning of new possibilities. UAA
student Stephanie Jeffers, a 23-year-old
theater major, is the state’s 50th Miss
Alaska, and in the last week of the
month, she will be in Las Vegas for the
78th annual Miss America Pageant.
“Stephanie is very ambitious and very
spirited,” director of the Miss Alaska
Scholarship Foundation, Bonnie Faulk
said. “She’s a highly intelligent young
woman and can articulate what she needs
to say very easily.”
Jeffers started competing in the Miss
Alaska pageant to earn scholarship
money for school. After completing a
Biology degree at Whitworth College
in Spokane, Washington, she returned
home to Alaska and gave the pageant
another shot.
In July 2008, Jeffers won the title of
Miss Alaska and took home a four-year
tuition waiver to UAA along with her
crown and sash. Jeffers is now putting
those scholarship dollars to good use by
fi nishing up a theater degree at UAA.
Besides participating in productions
put on by the theater department, Jeffers
has also been working on projects of her
own. The most recent is the UAA Improv
Troupe. To Jeffers, improvisational
comedy is not just for laughs, but is
also her community service platform
throughout her reigning year. Jeffers
believes improvisation can be used as a
tool – the fundamental idea behind her
platform.
“I’m hoping we’ll see an expansion of
how improv is used,” Jeffers said.
The theater major has been preparing
for the Miss America stage since she won
the crown. Besides a full schedule of work
and school, Jeffers said she has also had
to work hard to prepare herself physically
and mentally for the pageant.
“There’s going to be a lot more attention
on Miss Alaska,” Jeffers said. “It’s been a
huge year to be Miss Alaska. There have
been all sorts of awesome things going
on.”
Not only was it a big year for Alaska,
but also a big year for the Miss Alaska
Scholarship Foundation. Just shy of
three months before the state pageant,
the program gained new directors and a
complete makeover, something that Jeffers
is also very excited about.
“This is a new program; we’ve
completely re-vamped it,” she said. “I
believe this program is an opportunity for
us to get recognition for the work we’ve
done and to have a shot at the job that is
Miss America.”
According to Faulk, much of the
success of the program is due to committed
volunteers.
“The volunteers that came together to
help me with this transition were fabulous,”
Faulk said. “It was a good partnership.”
Faulk is also working to increase the
amount of scholarship funds as well as
expand the program to include more
preliminary pageants every year.
Faulk continues on that the Miss
America Organization is a strong
community service pageant that offers
more scholarships to young women than
any other organization in the entire world.
Adriel Mathew, a 25-year-old foreign
language major at UAA competed in the
Miss Alaska Pageant four times, and said
that she is thankful for the experience.
“I was really nervous to begin with, but
afterward I was glad that I did it,” Mathew
said.
According to Mathew, her favorite
element of the pageant was making friends,
particularly with Jeffers.
“She is so genuine and sincere and
was a great encouragement,” Mathew
said. “That’s her strong point-she’s not a
plastic doll.”
Mathew also offers advice for future
contestants.
“Go in there, fi rst off, knowing who you
are and what is important to you,” she said.
“But also be prepared to be taught.”
Faulk said one of the goals for the
program is to offer more clinics and
workshops to prepare the girls for the
stage.
“I have yet to fi nd a girl who has gone
through this system and has not gained
anything from it,” Faulk said.
And Jeffers is the perfect example. Not
only does she have the once in a lifetime
shot at the Miss America crown, but she
will bring home thousands of dollars in
more scholarship money just by stepping
onto the national stage – and much more
if she wins the title.
“I want to be Miss America if I’m right
for the job,” Jeffers said. “There’s a sense
that if I’m not right, I don’t want to win.
But then, what if I am? It’s exciting for me,
but it’s also a little terrifying.”