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Rebecca Walker: Nursing Student By Day, Pageant Contestant By Night

March 13, 2015

“Pageantry is not just a beauty competition. It is about showing what you stand for, being intelligent, well-spoken, relatable with an audience and confidence,” said Rebecca Walker, a 5th year student at Drexel’s Nursing and Health Professions, and a member of the first cohort for the College’s Lactation concentration. For Walker, pageantry reaches far beyond just appearance and personality, and instead, provides a large stage to represent what you stand for as an individual.

As a contestant for the 2015 Miss Philadelphia Competition, not only was she involved in the “traditional” beauty contest, but she also stood for her chosen volunteer platform called Hunger and Homelessness: Advocating for Access and Educating for Solutions.  Miss Philadelphia is among the largest local beauty pageant feeders into the national Miss America competition, and contestants are required to stand and represent a volunteer organization that connects with them on a personal level, in addition to the typical nature of a beauty pageant. The pageant consists of a press-conference styled interview, on-stage question session, on-stage talent competition, swimsuit piece, and evening gown section.

As a Community Scholar student at Drexel, Walker has been passionate about civic engagement and volunteerism, and it led her to want to get involved in the Miss Philadelphia competition. “The pageant’s mission really inspired me to get involved,” explained Walker. “Getting to know what Miss Philadelphia stood for beyond just a beauty competition and understanding what they could do for the community truly inspired me.”

Walker’s passion for advocating for Hunger and Homelessness began with her work with a local nonprofit called Broad Street Ministry in the arts district in downtown Philadelphia, during her time as a community scholar. “[Broad Street Ministry] opened my eyes to issues of Hunger and Homelessness in Philadelphia,” elaborated Walker. She was involved in numerous activities such as serving food to approximately 1000 people per week, as well as distributing personal hygiene products and coordinating basic healthcare and psychiatric evaluations.

Despite already contributing immensely to her community, Walker hopes to use her year of service at Hunger and Homelessness to contribute and take further initiative. “I really want to create a campaign for these issues, and to bring together community leaders to talk about how to alleviate some of these issues,” said Walker. “I want to also work hard to increase access to stable housing for the homeless, as well as making them have access to fruits and vegetables.”

Walker hopes to serve as an inspiration for young women and girls. “We want to teach young girls that it is not about who is the prettiest, or who looks best in a dress, but rather their character.”

Walker felt excited and confident about her ability on stage at the Miss Philadelphia competition. “The College of Nursing and Health Professions helped me gain confidence to speak in front of people and to be involved in the community,” she added. “To get this support is truly an awesome feeling.”

Walker competed in the Miss Philadelphia Pageant on February 28, 2015.  Although she did not win the top prize, the College of Nursing and Health Professions is extremely proud of her accomplishments and the awareness she is helping to bring to Hunger and Homelessness.