The recently crowned Miss Oregon only started her journey to pageants a few years ago, and it wasn’t a path she ever saw herself taking.

“It’s not the typical pageant girl journey,” said Allison Cook.

Rather than vying for titles from a young age, Cook took her first steps in to the world of glitz and glitter before her holiday break from the Oregon Institute of Technology in 2011.

She met the board for the Miss America program in Southern Oregon, and realized the scholarships that could be available to her through the program.

After much discussion with her family and her college volleyball coach, and after attending an 11 week primer course about how to be a title-holder, which covered everything fromto showcase your talent to how to walk in heels, Cook knew the pageant route was for her.

“It kind of started from there,” Cook said. “I was never raised to be a pageant girl.”

Cook went on to win the title of Miss City of Sunshine in April 2012, and she decided to suspend her college volleyball career to really pursue pageantry.

Later that year, Cook came in fourth runner up for the Miss Oregon title.

“It’s opened up so many doors,” Cook said, adding that those doors have helped her both personally and with her volunteer efforts.

Scholarships

So far, Cook has garnered about $32,000 in scholarships through the Miss America program. The 19-year-old, originally from California, is a junior in standing at Oregon Tech, studying in the Radiologic Science degree program, although she will suspend her studies while she serves as Miss Oregon.

“It’s really been an incredible blessing in my life,” Cook said of the Miss America organization.

Cook won the Miss Southern Gem title this year, and then the Miss Oregon title June 29 in Seaside. She will travel to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Miss America competition in September.

“I still haven’t wrapped my head around it,” Cook said.

Cook is the first current titleholder from Klamath to win the Miss Oregon moniker, something the board for the Miss Klamath County-Miss City of Sunshine Scholarship Pageant has been working towards for many years, said field director Teri Leeper-Blue.

“We’ve waited for a long time,” Leeper-Blue said, adding that the wait has been 35 years long. “We’re thrilled.”

A greater cause

With her new title, Cook said she is looking forward to working with the Miss America platforms, the Children’s Miracle Network, fundraising for its member hospitals including Rogue Regional Medical Center, and the Red Cross, in which she hopes to be a disaster assistance team member for the state of Oregon.

Cook’s personal platform she advocated for throughout her journey to Miss Oregon is athletic concussion awareness. She has had four concussions herself, and wants to educate people about their affects and how they can be prevented, she said.

That platform will expand for the national competition Cook said, to include all brain injury awareness, including for the military and veterans, car accident victims, and more.

“I’ve become aware of a variety of people that can be helped,” Cook said.

The spirit of volunteerism, as well as the scholarship aspect, are the important parts of the Miss America program, Cook said. Although she did face some adversity from people when she first decided to go the pageant route, from those who were concerned it was just a “beauty pageant,” the success she has had in the organization has changed that.

Along with the Miss Oregon title, Cook was awarded a $10,000 cash scholarship. In 2013, the Miss Oregon Scholarship program has offered a total of $523,980 to contestants in the local and statewide pageants.

When Cook won her new title, her family was “very excited,” she said.

A group of family and friends, including Leeper-Blue, other pageant board members and Oregon Tech president Christopher Maples, will be traveling to Atlantic City to see Cook compete.

Contest preparation

But she has a lot of work to do before then, Cook said.

“Mainly my days have been filled with doing paperwork,” Cook said, explaining she has many statements to complete that will be the judges first glimpse of her as a contestant.

“There’s not a lot of sitting around,” Cook added.

Wardrobe has been another challenge for her because she is 6-foot-1-inch without heels on, although the Bridal Gallery in Salem has offered to provide her dresses for the competition.

But despite her whirlwind schedule, Cook wants people to remember that she is still the same person.

“I’m still Allison Cook, the athlete, the student,” she said.

Leeper-Blue’s advice to Cook is to have fun, help people she comes in contact with understand the organization, and to appreciate the sisterhood of Miss Oregon and Miss America.

“My best advice to Allison is to be true to who she is,” Leeper-Blue said. “It’s taken her very far. She is one of the most grounded young women I know. I really think she’s going to be a great Miss Oregon.”

Maples, too, is excited for Cook.

“I’m just delighted for her,” Maples said, adding that both he and his wife will be watching Cook on the Miss America stage. “I’m really proud.”

The Miss America organization also encourages young women to study science, technology, math and medical fields, which Cook represents well as a student at Oregon Tech.

Representing OIT

Maples said he is happy to have her representing the university.

“We’re happy to have her as a student,” Maples said. “She’s a terrific student and it shows.”

Cook said she is proud to represent Klamath Falls and Southern Oregon as Miss Oregon, and is happy she has had so much support from people here, including at Oregon Tech and through the board for the Miss Klamath County-Miss City of Sunshine Scholarship Pageant.

“I have a lot of people to keep me humble,” Cook said.

And Cook hopes to make them all proud in September too.