August 14, 2013 - Chatting with Elizabeth Gerke it's easy to see why she wins so many pageants.
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She has a wonderful mix of confidence, charm and humor Ė rare qualities in most people let alone a 7-year-old.
No doubt those qualities led to the Oxford resident's recent crowning as a National Queen in the Jr. Preteen Division of the USA Ambassador Pageant held in Tampa, Florida.
Established in 2010, the USA Ambassador Pageant is designed to help young women be successful in life by building their leadership skills, integrity, character and confidence.
In addition to a stunning crown that's almost larger than her head and a smart-looking sash, Gerke, who's the daughter of Marvin and Kristy, won a $750 cash prize, a trophy, an American Girl doll, a three-to-five day Caribbean cruise and trip to Washington D.C.
When asked if she wears her sparkly new crown everywhere she goes, Gerke smiled and replied, "Kinda."
"I love it," she said.
But even royalty must be practical these days, so Gerke plans to use her prize money to buy a tablet computer.
This is Gerke's third pageant crown, but her first national one. Last year, she won the title of Miss Great Lakes State Princess. In July, she was crowned Miss Midwest Princess.
Gerke, who will begin the second grade at Daniel Axford Elementary next month, enjoys competing in pageants "because they're fun."
"I like the interview (with the judges) the best," she said.
For the talent portion of the pageant, Gerke brought some international flavor to the competition by performing a Bollywood-style dance.
It's unclear if Gerke's pageant career will continue as she gets older because of her aversion to cosmetics.
"I'm probably going to stop because I don't like makeup," she said.
Gerke's sported a fresh, clean face for all the pageants she's competed in thus far.
When she's not busy winning pageants, Gerke enjoys swimming and playing with her older brother, Eric.
Looking to the future, Gerke is considering careers as a dance choreographer, pageant judge or mail carrier.
That last one might get dropped because it turns out that crowns are not part of the U.S. Postal Service uniform.
But if anyone could convince the federal government to allow them, it would be Gerke.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.