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Miss Portland fourth in Miss Oregon pageant

Henderson says she enjoyed weekend contest’s ‘sisterhood’
by: ellen sPITALERI Miss Portland Alexandria Henderson was named the fourth runner-up in Saturday’s Miss Oregon competition in Seaside.

Caroline McGowan was crowned Miss Oregon Saturday night in Seaside and Portland’s Alexandria Henderson was named fourth runner-up. Now Henderson is ready to be the best Miss Portland that she can be. Henderson was quickly named to the top 10 at the beginning of the ceremony, and wowed the crowd with her soulful version of “Summertime,” during the competition’s talent portion. After the swimsuit and evening gown events, she was then named to the top five, and it was time to get serious. Henderson, 22, a graduate of Warner Pacific College in Portland, was first runner-up in last year’s competition and had high hopes of winning this year’s event. That didn’t happen, but she’s not upset. Henderson says she “enjoyed the sisterhood of the Miss Oregon class of 2011. “I loved that none of the girls were catty; that each girl came in with the mind to win, but the heart to make friends,” she says. During the pageant, the young women were asked tough questions in an impromptu interview, and Henderson’s question revolved around the economic situation. When asked why the economic recovery in this country was taking so long, and what would she do in President Obama’s shoes, she answered that the president should make more of an effort to keep jobs in the United States, making her answer personal: “I just graduated from college and I need a job.” At the pageant’s end, Henderson was named fourth runner-up, followed by Kaitlin Endres, Miss Southern Gem, and Elizabeth Denny, Miss Tri-Valley. In the dramatic finale, Nicole Mead, Miss Marion-Polk, was tapped as first runner-up, and McGowan, Miss Linn Benton, was chosen as Miss Oregon. During last week’s preliminary events, Henderson says she had a challenging moment when asked an onstage question and her mind went blank, but she is able to laugh about it now. What was it like backstage during the competition? Henderson describes it as “organized chaos.” “Hairspray, perfume, lotion, bronzer, makeup andtoupee tape were flying everywhere,” she says. “Although the contestants each did their own hair and makeup, we had backstage ‘angels’ who helped with the final details.” Henderson says her biggest inspiration and biggest supporter is her sister, Whitney. She is Henderson’s inspiration on the road to the Miss America pageant. “I follow her example in life,” she says. “Right now she is working toward becoming a doctor. Though life shuts doors and takes her on winding roads, she still sticks with her dream of being a doctor. That is how I feel about Miss America.”