FORT WAYNE – A Fort Wayne native was crowned Miss Oregon last weekend, qualifying her for the 2013 Miss America pageant.
Rachel Berry, the daughter of Jim and Beth Berry, beat out 22 other young women to seize the title Saturday night in Seaside, Ore.
It felt great, the 24-year-old said Wednesday night during a phone interview. This has been a dream Ive had for years.
A 2006 graduate of Carroll High School, Berry first got the pageant bug after watching a friend vie for the Miss Allen County title.
I said, I want to get up onstage and compete, Berry recalled.
So she entered the Allen County competition, and she was the third runner-up in 2004, the first runner-up in 2005 and the winner in 2006.
While living in Fort Wayne, she tap danced at her mothers studio, Steppin Out Studio of Dance. She used that talent on her way to winning the Miss Oregon title, along with $11,400 in scholarship money. She plans to put the funds toward a masters degree, possibly in psychology, she said.
Berry graduated from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where she was a cross-country runner and cheerleader. She said she hopes her pageant success will open doors to a career as a broadcast journalist.
During her reign as Miss Oregon, she will be the states official hostess, make more than 300 appearances and be a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. Shell also be promoting Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization that runs after-school programs for girls.
This will become my full-time job for the year, she said. Thats actually whats encouraged because the schedule is so demanding.
Shell compete for the Miss America tiara on Jan. 12.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, she said.