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Ali Wallace wins $10,000 scholarship, vies for Miss America

COURTESY: BEN WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY - Ali Wallace, the reigning Miss Portland and now Miss Oregon, poses for a post-pageant photo in Seaside. Shell be vying to be Miss America in September.The theme of the Miss Oregon 2015 pageant, held on Saturday, June 27, in Seaside, was “The Driving Force,” and at the end of the evening when Ali Wallace, Miss Portland, was crowned Miss Oregon, she was in the driver’s seat, headed straight for the Miss America pageant.

And Wallace, 21, is keeping it all in the family, as her mother, Tamara Fazzolari Wallace, was Miss Oregon 1987.

But for now the spotlight is firmly on the Portland State University student as she hones her interview, talent and fitness skills and prepares to head to Atlantic City, N.J., in September.

The night began when Wallace was tapped for the top 10; she then competed in the talent, swimsuit and evening gown portions of the pageant.

Wearing a huge smile, Wallace danced a lyrical routine to the Sam Smith tune “Latch,” which showcased her flexibility and gymnastic prowess, and then walked the runway in a royal blue bikini and an emerald green strapless mermaid gown.

After the judges’ scores were tabulated, Wallace, along with Tigard resident Allison Burke, Miss Mt. Hood, were named to the top five. Both young women also were named talent winners in preliminary events on Thursday, June 25.

At that point Katie Harmon, a former Miss Oregon and Miss America 2002, came on stage for the final segment of the competition — the question and answer. The top-five contestants each answered a current events question that they drew out of a bowl; this was their last chance to impress the panel of judges.

Burke was asked if it was fair that undocumented students in Oregon should get to attend local colleges paying in-state tuition, while other out-of-state students must pay higher rates. She said it was fair for undocumented students to reap the benefits of living in Oregon.

Then it was Wallace’s turn. She was asked if it was acceptable for the National Security Agency to use drones to monitor the activities of citizens in the name of national security, as opposed to neighbors using drones to invade people’s privacy.

“There is a huge difference,” Wallace said, noting that the government uses drones to make sure that U.S. citizens are safe, whereas people should not be able to use them to spy on their neighbors.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Rebecca Anderson, Miss Oregon 2014, who would pass on her crown to the night’s winner.

Fourth runner-up was Alexis Mather, Miss Clatsop County; third runner-up was Harley Emery, Miss Lane County; Burke was named second runner-up; and then there were two: Wallace and Kaylee Nelson, a Eugene resident and Miss Three Rivers.

As the two young women hugged each other for support, Nelson was named first runner-up and Wallace realized she was the new Miss Oregon. As the title holder, she won a $10,000 cash scholarship, courtesy of Greg and Teresa Huber.

After the crown was placed on her head and she was handed a huge bouquet of roses, Wallace took her first runway walk as Miss Oregon 2015 to a standing ovation. As she posed for photos, just minutes after winning the title, Wallace said, “It feels like I’m in a dream; I have no words.”

The Miss America pageant will air at 9 p.m., Eastern time, on Sunday, Sept. 13, on ABC.

In other news, Happy Valley resident Hailey Kilgore, 16, was named Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen on Friday, June 26, in Seaside, and will compete in the national pageant on Aug. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

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