Did you know, the four points of the Miss America crown are style, scholarships, success, and service? I (Anthony Crosby) bring this up because, one, today we’re talking with someone whose goal is to compete for that crown with our town’s name across her sash, and, two, our guest is someone Elko should feel confident in knowing she embodies each of those points and many more!
For this feature, we’re giving the spotlight to the current, Miss Elko herself, Alina Croft. We’re thankful Alina took the time to sit down with AAT this week because, at the time of this article’s publication, she is only a few days away from heading to Las Vegas to compete for the title of Miss Nevada on June 29th, and 30th! We’ll be rooting for you, Alina! Whatever the outcome may be, thank you for representing our city so well!
Before you leave to take the stage in Vegas, can you please tell us the story of how you came to win the crown?
“I moved to Elko when I was seven years old. Before that, I had never heard of pageants before. One day, my mom took me to a parade, and I remember seeing Miss Elko on a float by herself with her crown and sash; I thought that was so cool, and I became obsessed with it! When I was thirteen, I was able to compete for Miss Elko County’s Outstanding Teen. I worked hard at that for a couple of years, and in 2016, I won that pageant. After that, I was hooked and knew I needed to be Miss Elko as well.”
“However, I took a year off to focus on college. During my second year, I went home for Winter break. One day, I was talking with some people at my mom’s work; one of the women told me her daughter was competing in the teens’ competition and that it would be the perfect time for me to compete again. I decided to do it! Every weekend, this past February, I would come back home from Reno to do the practices and events, and at the end of that month, I ended up winning!”
Alina, some people may hear of these pageant competitions and assume the only job of the contestants is to show up in fancy makeup and dresses. Can you break down exactly what all goes into preparing to win a Miss Elko crown?
“Along with the talent portion, we do interviews that attribute the most to our scores. We write an essay about a platform we care very passionately about. These platforms can center around a charity, organization or movement; mine is on court-appointed special advocates (CASA’s). We turn these essays into the judges before we meet them, along with our resumes of scholastic awards we’ve won, our community service involvements, and our answers for a couple of other essay questions. Every person who competes also advocates and raises money for Children’s Miracle Network, which is Miss America’s national platform. Furthermore, we do mock interviews, have practices to learn the walking patterns, and have practices to learn the opening production number.”
Wow, that is a heavy workload, both physically and mentally! What has it been like preparing for Miss Nevada?
“Preparing for Miss Nevada is pretty intense. I have two personal training sessions a week, plus my dance sessions. My trainer, Lorna, kicks my butt so I can be in shape and have the endurance for Miss Nevada because the week leading up to the competition is a long one! We’ll get up at seven AM every day for Pilates, then we’ll have our practices, after that, we’ll do our appearances and community services events until around eleven at night when we get back to our hotel. We’ll also work through our mock-interviews throughout the week because when we go in for our actual interviews at the competition, the judges can ask us anything, so we have to be prepared, know what’s going on in the world, and sound confident in our answers.”
Alina, how was carrying out the responsibilities of your title impacted your perspective of our city?
“Being Miss Elko has brought me so many more opportunities to be involved in the community. I’ve been doing different service projects since I was little; however, one thing my title has shown me is how much other people in Elko care. The community can really come together to help one another.”
“People seek me out to do events that I never even knew were happening in our community; that’s exciting for me. So many people do things in our area that I would never have noticed before, and this makes me care and want to get involved even more.”
Is there anything you learned about yourself through this whole experience? How has being Miss Elko shaped you as a person?
“You don’t ever need to be the “standard,” just be yourself. When I was younger and first started competing, I was scared to be myself. This year, I knew I had to find myself in this whole process, so when I competed, I decided I wasn’t going to be anything else or anyone else. I was going to wear the makeup I felt comfortable with. I have my nose pierced and six tattoos; that’s not really “normal” to see on a Miss Nevada stage. In the past, it’s been encouraged by some people around me to cover up my tattoos or change out my piercings, but this time, I wanted to be completely myself. So, when I won, it felt great because I knew I truly did it while being one hundred percent who I am, down to a fault.”
Finally, Alina, if you were to have lunch with a young girl who was interested in following in your footsteps to become Miss Elko one day, what words of wisdom would you pass on to her?
“It is a lot of work; you have to put your heart into it. You can’t do it for your mom or anyone else; you must have yourself behind you. However, don’t be scared to compete; you’ll gain so many valuable skills. You’ll get so much out of it; for example, the scholarship money I’ve received is going to help me pay for school next year! Don’t be scared to put yourself out there and try it. Whether you win or lose, you’ll gain new friendships, skills, and I think it’s something more people should try!”
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See you around, Elko!