Family role models spur Carmel girls’ interest in pageant world
By Mark Ambrogi
Rachel Berry’s interest in the pageant world was spurred though the success of her aunt.
Berry’s aunt, Jan Berry, competed and won Ms. Indiana several years ago.
“I used to walk in her pageant shoes and I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Berry said. “I saw pictures and thought I wanted to be like her, she’s a princess. I’ve been doing it for about a year now and I’ve loved every second of it.”
While the Carmel High School junior is relatively new to the pageant world, Chesley Rowlett competed in the first pageant when she was just 12.
Rowlett, a 18-year-old Carmel resident who was homeschooled and now is a freshman at Olivet Nazarene University, got interested through her older cousin Hannah Robison, who was second runner-up to Miss Tennessee last year.
“She’s been doing pageant since she was little,” Rowlett said. “The thing that drew me to it is you get to dress up which is a lot of fun. But it helps with confidence, get on stage and present yourself professionally.”
Rowlett was named Miss Indianapolis and the USA National Miss Indiana title at a pageant in January. Berry was named Teen Miss Indianapolis and USA National Miss Indiana Teen crown at the same pageant. Both will compete in different divisions in the USA National Miss from July 27-Aug. 1 in Orlando, Fla.
The national pageant consists of a formal dress, interview and runway fashion. There are a lot of optionals for side awards, such as talent, photogenic and community service.
“I’m very excited. It’s going to be something that I’ve never done before,” Berry said.
As part of winning their titles, Berry and Rowlett have helped with several fundraising events, such as Flight for Air Climb and the Miss Amazing pageant for girls with special needs.
“It was a neat experience,” Rowlett said. “That was my first time helping children with special needs. I am so excited to do it again. It was an amazing experience to meet the girls and help them whatever they need. It really showed me how much they are just like us.”
Berry said “the girls just shined on the stage and it’s all about celebrating their abilities.”
Working with those with special needs children has been a love of Berry’s since getting involved with Best Buddies her freshman year. She helped the unified track team for special needs students last year.
“It’s my passion,” Berry said. “Working with them makes me happy. They are never upset or mad at another person. They’re always so excited to see you. They are gifts from God.”
Berry said the pageants have helped her build her confidence more.
“I was bullied a lot and pageants help you regain your strength,” said Berry, who was a victim of cyberbullying primarily in middle school by another girl who used to be a close friend. “You realize you are beautiful inside and out no matter what. You can walk on stage with confidence.”
About Chesley Rowlett
Personal: Turns 19 on April 5. Freshman at Olivet Nazarene University, majoring in dietetics and nutrition. Active in speech and debate during high school. Has played piano for 10 years.
Plans for future: “I’d love to go into public policy if I don’t go into nutrition.”
Favorite Class: “I really like my chemistry class, which most people give me strange looks for.”
Favorite TV Show: “I love ‘Forever,’ ‘Once Upon a Time’ and anything Marvel-related like ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ and ‘Agent Carter.’ I love Disney movies.”
Favorite food: “Mac and cheese.”
Favorite author: “I really like Christian fiction. So my favorite author is Janette Oke, who wrote the ‘Love Comes Softly’ series.”
Hobbies: “I’m on the yearbook staff at school so I love photography. Public speaking is really my speech and debate for so long. I’m hoping to start a mock trial at my school.”
About Rachel Berry
Personal: Turns 18 in July. Involved in DECA, Special Olympics, Best Buddies, student government and Allegro choir at Carmel High School.
Future plans: “I’m looking at Liberty University in Virginia, a Christian college. I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve looked into business this year and I really enjoy it. I’ve been looking at the nonprofit management area.”
Favorite movie: “I love “Titanic’ but I hate the ending. So I only watch the beginning and middle.”
Favorite class: “English and choir.”
Favorite restaurant: “I love Old Spaghetti Factory and the Olive Garden. I love anything Italian and lots of bread.”
Favorite way to relax: “Honestly, it’s when I’m working with Special Olympics. I’m never stressed. They make me happy. Then I go home and sleep.”