sixth-grader Alexis Hauser was crowned Miss Illinois Jr. Teenager at the Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin March 25.
The 12-year-old not only received a crown and a sash, but a variety of prizes including a luggage set, free professional photo shoot and a gift certificate for a new pageant gown.
The pageant itself has been around for more than 20 years, but was formerly known as Miss All American Teenager, according to Julie Aceto, state director.
One notable past contestant is actress Halle Berry, Aceto said.
This is the first pageant Hauser has competed in. Hauser competed against 17 other girls in the pageant, and will now represent Illionois in the national competition in November.
Contestants are judged in three categories; evening gown and swimsuit, which respectively represent 25 percent of the overall scoring, and the remaining 50 percent is tallied based on the personal interview.
When Hauser was asked what famous person she admired and would like to meet, she named a well-known Chicago personality and successful business woman.
“My answer was Oprah Winfrey, because she uses her success to help people learn about things-I want to give back like Oprah does,” Hauser said. “She does so much for charities even though she has a very busy life.”
The pre-teen also has developed a platform to bring awareness to juvenile diabetes, a condition one of her cousins was recently diagnosed with.
“I want to be able to help children who have juvenile diabetes by helping to raise money to find a cure for it,” Hauser said.
The Miss American Jr. Teenager pageant does not require contestants to come in with a platform, but Hauser had her own ideas after she and her family decided she would enter the competition.
“Alexis is such a special girl, she said from the beginning that she wants to give back and help people-from the start she told me about wanting to visit sick children in area hospitals-and that is really rewarding to hear from such a young person,” Aceto said.
The national competition to award the the Miss American Jr. Teenager title and crown will be held November 23-25 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia.
“I will personally be working with Alexis and guiding her by helping her practice with mock interviews, developing her wardrobe and assisting with photo shoots,” Aceto said.
In addition to the personal interview, the competition also will have an evening gown and swim suit portion.
“To win at nationals, it really is all about personality, beauty and poise,” Aceto said.
The 49 pageant contestants Hauser will be up against also will have to learn a choreographed dance to be performed at the start of the event.
In addition to her new found interest in pageants, Hauser manages to stay very busy.
She is a member of the Palatine Stingrays U12 travelling softball team, a cheerleader at her school and has participated in the Relay for Life, Ron Santo JDRF Walk and multiple diabetes walks.
“My daughter is a very ambitious sixth grader; she also helps to teach dance classes and is a teacher assistant for Vacation Bible School at St. Matthew Church in Barrington,” said Michelle Hauser, Alexis’ mother.
“I want to keep doing this because I think I can help motivate people-this is something that can help me to help people,” Hauser said.
For more information, visit the Miss American Teenager pageant website at www.missamericanteenager.me.