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MISS AMERICA PAGEANT

Alexa Jones

MISS ALABAMA

Alexa is a native of Andalusia, Ala., and is a 1999 magna cum laude graduate of Andalusia High School and 1999 Covington County Junior Miss. In 2003, she received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Birmingham-Southern College where she majored in English and minored in art. She is currently a Master of Arts candidate in art history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Alexa's honors and accomplishments include Sigma Tau Delta English Honorary, Trustees Award Scholarship, Daily Point of Light Award (#2218) and the Presidential Student Service Award. Alexa interned at The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in the fall of 2003 and the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham in the spring of 2004. She also participated in the Smithsonian's Directional Outreach program. Alexa founded and currently serves as chairperson of the Renaissance Foundation of Alabama, Inc., a nonprofit organization that creates or enhances educational art programs in Alabama schools as well as promotes community fine and performing arts awareness. The Renaissance Foundation is an IRS certified 501(c)(3) and also provides art supplies and art instruction for schools.

Alexa has been employed as a regional television commercial spokesperson, a regional fashion model and a national print model. She was the youngest individual to lobby for grants to the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She worked as a veterinary assistant during high school and is a fourth generation farm owner. Her hobbies include oil painting and sketching.

After she completes her Master of Arts in art history, Alexa wants to continue her study of art history at a postgraduate program at an international auction house. Her career ambition is to become an art broker and art gallery owner.

Album: Room on Fire, The Strokes

Movie: Auntie Mame

Place to visit: in Alabama -- my family's farm; in the U.S. -- Manhattan

Food: Indian cuisine! Birmingham, Ala., has the best Indian restaurant, Taj India.

Book: In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway

Songs:
"Last Night," Strokes
"Can't You Hear Me Knocking," Rolling Stones
"Black," Pearl Jam
"Melissa," Allman Brothers
"The Bends," Radiohead

Sport: Basketball! Robert Horry of the San Antonio Spurs is from my hometown.

Sports team: University of Alabama's Crimson Tide football team

Actor: Hugh Jackman

Actress: Sara Jessica Parker

Author: Ernest Hemingway

TV program: Ellen

Thing to do on a weekend: I love checking out local art exhibitions and going to concerts and movies.

Charity: I chair an arts education nonprofit in my state called the Renaissance Foundation of Alabama, Inc. I think all arts organizations are incredibly worthwhile.

Way to spend a day off: When I have the time, I love to paint and sketch. Of course, I like to shop as well!

Q: Who is the most influential person in your life? A: Mrs. Merle Kelly took care of me after school and during summer break when I was a child. She kept me for many years and is like an adopted grandmother to me. Mama Merle, as I called her, is a vivacious and caring woman and I credit her for much of my upbringing. Q: What is one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? A: I think when people meet me they immediately realize I'm fun, love to laugh, and am outgoing; however, I do have an introspective and serious side. Q: What is your hometown like? A: Andalusia is a small rural town with a population of approximately 9,000 and is a largely agricultural area. All of the schools are public schools and we have a large community college system so education is a high priority. Andalusia is very close to Florida's beaches and is home to the World Championship Domino Tournament and neighbors Opp, home of the Rattlesnake Rodeo! Covington County has a very active arts council, and Andalusia hosts a variety of artistic productions and festivals. Because it is small, it's closely knit and supportive of its residents. Q: What makes your state so special? A: Geographically, it's a wonderful place to live because of its diversity. Alabama has beautiful beaches as well as mountain foothills. It also has great rivers and lakes for water sports! Alabama's residents also make it special. Alabamians are outgoing and fun and love to share our rich cultural history -- the epitome of Southern hospitality! Q: What was one defining moment in your life? A: I served as an artist in residence for a month in an inner-city middle school my junior year of college. I directed fifty seventh-and eighth-graders in a musical. The students made all of their props, sets and costumes. Most of these children lived in neighborhoods with heavy gang violence and were not academically focused. I had an amazing month with them, however. They started completing their homework, attending class and exhibiting good classroom behavior so that they could participate in the musical. They were proud of their work, and as a result, proud of themselves. I discovered an incredible amount about myself. I learned to not take for granted my family and the opportunities I have been given. I also realized that I could personally succeed and touch lives in incredibly difficult situations. Q: If you are named Miss America, what do you want to accomplish during the next 12 months? A: My No. 1 priority is to promote the Miss America Organization and widen the appeal of our system. As an arts lover, I also want to teach communities the ways in which the arts can benefit them. The Miss America Organization is a natural supporter of the arts with our emphasis on the performing arts, and I want to highlight that relationship. As Miss America 2006, I will be able to share the mutual benefits and relevancy of MAO and fine and performing arts across our country. Q: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? A: Remember who you are. We all represent certain beliefs and ideas. We must always stay true to those ideals and be ourselves. Q: What have you learned about yourself after winning the state pageant? A: I've learned a tremendous amount about myself since I've won. The title of Miss Alabama is a full-time public relations job. I've honed my time management skills and have become a more focused and confident businesswoman. Most importantly, I've discovered that the sky is the limit when I believe in myself! Q: What advice would you give today's teens? A: Teens should always try to stay true to themselves and their core beliefs. They must always be open to new ideas and people. However, they must remain faithful to what makes them unique. Q: What is one important thing you have learned from being in pageants? A: Pageants encourage confidence, poise and goal setting. My pageant participation has fostered focus and a keen business sense in my life. Through pageants, I am better at time management and setting goals for myself than I would be otherwise. Q: What is the silliest thing you've seen at a pageant? A: General backstage chaos is always silly -- girls pulling and tugging at dresses, going crazy with hairspray and makeup, vocalists and dancers warming up for talent performances. The more hectic a backstage, the funnier it becomes! Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I am not a morning person! However, I'm struggling to become one! Q: During your pageant competitions, what has been the most difficult question you've been asked to answer? A: It's always difficult to answer questions about controversial issues. They key is to thoroughly think through issues from all perspectives so you are solid in your reasoning. Q: How many pageants have you competed in during your life? A: I began with America's Junior Miss Scholarship program. I became Covington County's Junior Miss as a high school senior and competed in Alabama's Junior Miss. I began competing in the Miss Alabama Pageant my freshman year of college and have competed in the Miss America system ever since. Q: What do you feel is the most important issue facing the nation at this time in history? A: The war in Iraq seems to be the weightiest issue our country is facing right now. Whether you agree or disagree with the war, it's certainly a heavy-pressing issue. Q: What do you think is the greatest misconception about pageant contestants? A: I think some people feel that pageant participants are catty or fake. However, most of the women I know that compete in the Miss America system are caring, motivated women who are fun and outgoing. Pageant participation has provided incredible opportunities for me and has served as a vehicle to meet personal and professional goals. There is nothing catty or fake about developing into a grounded, well-rounded and accomplished individual! Q: Do you consider yourself a role model? If so, are you comfortable in that position? A: Absolutely, I consider myself a role model. However, it is a position of great responsibility and can, of course, be trying at times. By working hard in all areas of my life, I hope I empower others to achieve their best. Q: What is the last book you read? A: I just finished reading John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. It's a really witty and fun read! Q: What do you consider your greatest strength? Weakness? A: I'm an only child, and that has made me very independent which is a great strength. However, a weakness of mine is trying to complete every project by myself (without asking for others' help), and that can make me feel overextended. Q: What qualities do you look for in a leader? Do you have these qualities? A: I look for confidence, competence, passion and open-mindedness in a leader in any capacity. I definitely think I possess these qualities and must in order to fulfill my job as a state titleholder or Miss America. Q: What does it mean to you to be an American? A: Being an American means being open to and respecting the importance of other cultures, new ideas and different kinds of people. Q: What are you studying, or what did you study in school? A: I have a Bachelor of Arts in English from Birmingham-Southern College and am currently a candidate for an art history Master of Arts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I plan to continue my study of art history at an international auction house such as Christie's or Sotheby's following the completion of my master's degree. Q: What were you like when you were a child? A: I was a very energetic and creative child. I was always dancing, painting, drawing and writing. I was very imaginative and enjoyed creating fantastic stories whether they were in my mind or on paper. Q: What are you most excited about regarding this year's pageant? A: It's an exciting year of change for the Miss America Organization. I'm thrilled about Las Vegas as our new venue and our new home at CMT. I'm pleased with CMT's enthusiasm for promoting our organization and the fresh face they're creating for MAO. Q: What is the best thing about participating in this year's pageant? A: This is a year of firsts. We have a new venue in Las Vegas and a new network home at CMT. I'm excited to be a member of the first class of these new changes!

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