Queen of arts

Brooke M. Westlake

Photo By David Robert

Brooke M. Westlake is 24 years old and a college junior who studies science and business administration and who works as a job management associate for a pharmaceutical company. On March 5, she was crowned Miss University of Nevada, Reno (By the way, the bubbly young woman is looking for tax-deductible sponsorships; e-mail her at princessbmw1@aol.com). After she graduates next year, she wants to go to medical school to study gastroenterology, the study of the stomach and the intestines. But it hasn’t been all high heels and poise for the pageant contestant. As a girl, she battled acid reflux, which developed into pre-cancer and led to surgery. And even though she’s expecting more surgery—the implant of a gastric-electric stimulator, which is like a pacemaker for the stomach—well, it’s hard to keep a good woman down.

That surgery sounds horrible.

For my age, it’s been really rough. I’m like, ‘Can I divorce my stomach? Where’s the paperwork? I’m ready to sign.’

What were the steps to becoming Miss University of Nevada, Reno?

It’s 40 percent for interview, eveningwear is 10 percent, swimwear is 10 percent, on-stage question is 10, and your talent is 30 percent.

What was your talent?

I sing, and I tap dance.

What was your onstage question?

My onstage question was “How do I feel about reality TV?”

How do you feel about reality TV?

When they started out, they had a really good intention—they had some really good shows, but then it got really bad, like pointless shows, “Watch some guy name Bob walk around his house for a day,” and you’re like “What does this have to do with life?” When they started out, I thought they were really, really good.

What’s the next step for you?

Miss Nevada on July 9. It’ll entail all the same stuff as the local pageants, except there are 12 of us competing for Miss Nevada.

How many competed for Miss UNR?

Four girls. The Miss Nevada [pageant] is about five days, out in Mesquite, Nevada. They have us do a lot of fun things, like we get to do parades for the week of the pageant.

What do you say to those people who think it’s kind of a dated or maybe anachronistic contest?

Miss America is a completely different system from any other program out there. It’s strictly based on scholarship money, so whatever I win goes into my school account at UNR. It’s not cash, and we don’t pay entry fees. All the other pageants, you have to pay an entry fee, and you win cash. It’s really a big program that encourages women to stay in school and become educated. That’s the hugest focus it has. The job of being a title holder is not walking around in your swimming suit, as the ad libs would be like, “Aren’t you offended that you have to walk around in your swim suit?” The job itself is representing your community and being a very well-spoken person. You have a platform issue; each woman has an issue that they’re doing in their local communities. And that is your job, to support that platform issue, to take it to your state pageant.

What’s your platform issue?

It’s Smarts with Arts: Stepping Outside the Box.

What’s that mean?

I support Nevada Performing Arts Center. We have rape-prevention programs that we are implementing into all the high schools. I support all arts because we’ve cut them out of our schools for children. It’s really an important part of their learning and their growing up, because it gives them a good balance for their future in such things as goal-setting, organization and being on time, like for a job. I really am pushing not to cut more art programs out of our schools. I support the nonprofit Nevada Performing Arts in anything they want to do to help out the schools.