Junior Lexy Schenk doesn’t remember being crowned Miss South Dakota USA 2015. After her name was called, she dropped to her knees. Schenk is now anxiously awaiting to get the tapes to look back at the day.
During the Miss South Dakota USA pageant, junior Koty Matthiesen meant to tape Schenk’s win on her phone, but things didn’t go as planned.
“They said the first runner up and I dropped my phone and shot up in the air,” Mattiesen said.
Ann Brockmueller, a senior and longtime friend of Schenk’s, was also in attendance for the win.
“I just remember they were standing and she dropped to the ground,” Brockmueller said.
Schenk, a nursing major and member of Pi Beta Phi, now has a busy year ahead of her. In addition to juggling coursework, she will compete in the Miss USA pageant at a time and location yet to be announced.
No matter when the pageant happens, Matthiesen plans on booking tickets to watch and support Schenk.
“I can’t imagine not being there,” Matthiesen said. “I need to give her a big hug.”
When it comes time for the Miss USA pageant, Schenk will have to arrive at the location two and a half to three weeks before it begins. Even though the date and location haven’t been announced, the pageant typically takes place during the summer.
“When you think about it, I don’t have much time to prepare because I have to focus on school first,” Schenk said. “It’s going to be an interesting year, to say the least, but I’m ready for it. It will make me grow as an individual.”
But being a student and upholding the crown is unusual for a contestant, Schenk said, because most state winners will take the year off school. Since she changed her major as a first-year, she was already behind a semester in the nursing program.
If she were to win the title of Miss USA, Schenk said she would take time off from school, especially because the win means she would have to immediately relocate to New York City for a year.
Brockmueller said she doesn’t think Schenk will have any trouble juggling responsibilities.
“She can handle it,” Brockmueller said. “She’s pretty good in stressful situations.”
Schenk became involved in pageants after a friend introduced her to them. She’s had a short, but successful history in the Miss USA program. In 2011, she won the state teen title, took a year off and was named second runner-up last year.
“I wasn’t a pageant girl in high school,” Schenk said. “In Irene we have 400 people — no one does pageants in Irene.”
Schenk said she took a year off to experience pageants as a member of the audience but knew she had to compete again.
“Right when the music started again, it brought me back to when I competed the year before,” Schenk said. “I thought, I had to do it again. I started tearing up because I just wanted to be on the stage again and compete.”
Through the Miss USA program, Schenk said she’s developed skills in interviewing, gained self-confidence and has formed friendships. One former contestant now serves as her hair and makeup artist, and the friend’s father takes her photos for the pageants.
When she’s not working on coursework or fulfilling pageant responsibilities, Schenk volunteers for the Special Olympics and enjoys working with Best Buddies, one of the charities the Miss USA organization supports.
Although she didn’t break the top 15 at the national pageant when she was Miss Teen South Dakota, Schenk said it gave her an idea of what to expect, especially since many of the girls she competed with then have crowns now.
“I’m looking forward to looking the best I’ve ever looked, talking the best I’ve ever talked,” Schenk said. “It’s going to be an experience I’ll never have again, so I’ll have to make the best of it.”
A contestant can only hold the crown for their state once, which means the Miss USA pageant will be Schenk’s last. But even though she’s almost finished with her pageant career, she still plans on helping the organization with future pageants.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get away from it,” Schenk said.
(Photo: Junior Lexy Schenk, who is majoring in nursing, was crowned Miss South Dakota USA Oct. 5. Schenk will compete at the Miss USA pageant at a time and location that has yet to be announced. Mikkelle Carlson / The Volante)