SEASIDE — Rachel Berry tap danced her way to the 2012 Miss Oregon crown Saturday night. She defeated almost two dozen other contestants at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
Berry, 24, is Miss Willamette Valley. She hopes to spread her current platform, Girls Inc. , which is in about 30 schools in the Portland area, across the state. Girls Inc. is an afterschool program that helps empower young women.
Berry defeated 22 other young women in the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. She will compete in the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 12 in Las Vegas.
The Top 11 contestants (11 instead of 10 because there was a tie) each had 90 seconds to showcase their talent selections. Berry tap danced to “Sing, Sing, Sing” a 1936 instrumental swing song popularized by Benny Goodman.
Born in Indiana, Berry has made the West Coast home. She graduated from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in television and broadcast journalism. She aspires to be the first female host of “The Tonight Show.”
Berry initially participated in pageants to raise scholarship money for college. The Miss Oregon Scholarship Program offered more than $452,000 in cash and tuition scholarships this year. With the Miss Oregon title, Berry won a $10,000 cash scholarship. She also received a $1,000 cash scholarship as a Top Five Semi-Finalist and another $1,000 cash scholarship award for over-all best interview.
“It’s been a huge assistance to finishing my degree and now hopefully going on to get my master’s. But also,” she added, “I want to be Miss America!”
In the Miss Outstanding Teen competition, the winner was Marli Martin.
The 14-year-old is from Jackson County. Her talent is vocal performance and her platform is "The Beautiful U Project -- Promoting Positive Self Esteem for Women of All Ages.
* For more details of the Miss Oregon program and parade, read Monday's edition of The Daily Astorian.