From the ranch to Las Vegas

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

Since returning from Las Vegas on Jan. 25, Alex Hoffman has spent her time relaxing. She has worn zero makeup, sweats, not worked out and done a lot of sleeping.

“Everything went by so fast,” said Hoffman.

In case the name does not ring a bell, she is Miss SDSU and Miss South Dakota, and she recently competed in the Miss America Pageant.

Hoffman is originally from a cattle ranch in Eureka, S.D. She goes to SDSU, though she took the semester off, and is getting her undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism.

Her educational goal, however, is to “raise enough money for law school.”

Hoffman competed in her first pageant in high school. She twice participated in Miss Teen USA, winning her second time.

When Hoffman went to college, she joined the swim team and “did college stuff.” Then, on a whim, she decided to try to Miss SDSU.

“(Trying for Miss SDSU) was a good choice,” she said.

Ray Peterson, the director of theater at SDSU and producer of the Miss S.D. pageant, said Hoffman has gone far within her year.

“She was a first-time contestant who won Miss SDSU and went on to win Miss S.D. That hasn’t happened in 16 years,” he said.

Peterson said part of what made Hoffman go so far was her excellent interviewing skills, an overall sophistication and that she has the look. Also, being a little over six feet tall did not hurt at all.

For the talent portion, Hoffman said singing was her choice because “it is the only thing I can do really well.” She sang “Even Now” by Linda Eder.

Coincidentally, Hoffman’s grandfather was also a singer. In the 1960s, LeRoy Hoffman was a world-renowned opera singer.

There was a team of people who helped with the singing including Peterson, Kate Wismer, Heidi Grimsley and Kristi Richter.

Being a part of the Miss America pageant also meant being on a reality television show on The Learning Channel (TLC). The show was a four-part series.

“They showed how we really are. … It was entertaining,” Hoffman said.

The show was mainly factual but some things shown were not correct, she said.

According to Richter, one reason Hoffman did so well in the Miss America Pageant was because of her competitiveness.

“She throws everything into what she wants and goes full force to get it,” said Richter.

During the reality show, Hoffman was one of 15 to win a golden sash. She won because of her creativity during a black dress challenge.

Compared to other pageants that she has competed in, Hoffman was impressed with the quality of the contestants.

“The big difference with Miss America is the women. They are so intelligent, poised and are on another level,” said Hoffman.

Richter, Hoffman’s coach, said a big thing that makes Alex stand out is how humble and grounded she is. According to Richter, while cleaning up Hoffman’s dressing room, two women who worked back stage said, “We love your girl. She is so nice. And we don’t say that about everyone.”

Being Miss S.D. has not been all pageants. Once Hoffman, an athlete, was approached about performance enhancing drugs, said Richter. Because of this experience, she chose “Don’t Risk It: Keep Sports Healthy” as her platform.

“I helped Alex with why these drugs are bad and putting together a presentation about it,” Richter said.

Hoffman has a presentation she takes to schools to help get the word out.

According to Richter, Hoffman also takes a tobacco-free program called “Right Decisions Right Now” to schools. She visits about 20 schools about tobacco prevention, Hoffman said.

Now with only five months left as Miss S.D. and about two left as Miss SDSU, Hoffman said the pressure is off.

“I hope to have fun and recruit more women,” she said.

The next Miss SDSU pageant is set for March 22 in Doner Auditorium. Informational meetings are set for Feb. 5 and 11 at 7 p.m. in the lobby of Berg Hall.

Overall, Hoffman made the top 15 in Miss America. This is the first time in 39 years Miss S.D. has made the top 15. She also came in first for the online and phone voting, which meant she was America’s number one choice. She said she is happy with her experience.

“I proved because I am from a small state, I can still compete on their (national) level.”