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Miss America, here she comes

Granite Bay teen off to national pageant
By: Stephanie Garcia Granie Bay View Correspondent
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Granite Bay High School alumna Allison Cook graduated in 2011 and headed to Oregon Institute of Technology to study radiology, but in a strange turn of events, she was recently named Miss Oregon and is now on her way to competing in the Miss America pageant.

How did the aspiring 19-year-old medical imaging student and exceptional volleyball player go from everyday work and studies to vetting for the top echelon in beauty pageants? It’s simple — she signed up to help her parents combat the high costs of her college education.

“I found out about the Miss America Organization through a volunteer fair at my school,” she said. “The Women’s Scholarship Foundation was representing the Miss Klamath County Board and they advertised, ‘Want us to pay for college?’ It sounded appealing.”

After researching the organization a little more, she decided to get involved. Her parents, Steve and Patti Cook, could not be more proud.

“Allison is getting through school via a combination of family support, scholarships and work,” Patti Cook said. “She thought this (pageant) could be a great opportunity to help us pay for her studies, and so far, it’s really paid off!”

Allison Cook’s first competition was April 28, 2012, in Klamath Falls, Ore.  She won the title of Miss City of Sunshine 2012, which earned her the opportunity to compete in Miss Oregon 2012. She won fourth runner-up in that pageant and competed again this June. Allison not only won the crown, she advanced to the Miss America finals to be held Sept. 15 in Atlantic City, N.J.

To date, Allison has won more than $32,000 in scholarships from the Miss America Organization.

“This was her idea and we are incredibly proud and constantly amazed by everything she does,” Patti Cook said.

According to the Miss America website, the pageant program “provides a forum for today's young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments to audiences during the telecast and to the public-at-large during the ensuing year.” Most of the 52 contestants have either received, or are in the process of earning, college or postgraduate degrees and apply Miss America scholarships to further their educations.

“It is such a huge blessing to have the rest of my college paid for,” Allison Cook said. “I am very fortunate to have the backing of such a wonderful organization full of donors that are willing to invest in my future.”

Surrounded by women who’ve competed in pageants their entire lives, she has been impressed by the amount of support she’s received. After all, this is only her second year in the industry.

“Pageantry in Oregon is nothing like I would assume a Texas competition would be,” she said. “In Texas, and other southern states, women are born and bred to be titleholders and therefore their environment can come across as cut-throat and catty. In Oregon, on the other hand, most of the local titleholders get involved to earn more scholarships or to make a difference in their community. I am very happy to have made lifelong friends through the Miss Oregon program and I cannot wait to see what else the year brings me.”

Allison Cook plans to graduate but will take a year off to fulfill her duties as Miss Oregon, making appearances and performing community services. She enjoys her new role as a public figure and realizes that many little girls look up to her.

While her message to these youngsters is focused on staying in school, perhaps her inspirational story of overcoming personal disabilities and playing collegiate sports will resonate, too: She had four concussions and a hearing disability. But she had the opportunity to play collegiate volleyball, and took it. She’s happy living in Oregon.

Allison Cook may be smitten with Oregon at the moment, but she misses her friends and family in Granite Bay.

“Granite Bay has always been comfortable and welcoming,” she said. “It is a great place to grow up in, to raise a family, and it has always been supportive. However, I am very happy in Oregon and amazed at all of the opportunities that I have found there.”