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Rosemount teen named Miss Teen Minnesota International

Jenna O'Rourke is Miss Teen Minnesota International for 2010. She will compete later this year for the national title.

How excited is Jenna O'Rourke to be the 2010 Miss Teen Minnesota? Last week the Rosemount High School junior woke up at 3:30 a.m. to have breakfast with her father before he went to work. She ate wearing her tiara and sash.

"That is my new best friend," O'Rourke said of the symbols of her new title. "I can't wear it to school, but I sure wear it around the house."

O'Rourke received her crown Sunday at Ritsche Auditorium in St. Cloud. It is the third time she's competed in the pageant. She finished third runner up last year.

O'Rourke put in a lot of work to earn her title. Before this week's competition she practiced twice a week with a pageant coach, focusing on interview skills and stage presence. She also had to hone her platform: Save lives, fulfill yours by volunteering with the American Cancer Society.

O'Rourke was 13 when one of her closest friends died of bone cancer. Six months later, O'Rourke went to the doctor to have her back check out and doctors found a benign tumor on her femur. The removal ended her gymnastics career, but it also sparked a passion. For the past two years O'Rourke has been on the committee for the Rosemount Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and for the 2008-09 school year she founded High Schools Against Cancer at Rosemount High School. The club works to raise cancer awareness around the school and holds regular fundraisers. The club's first meeting drew two members, but membership has since grown to more than 20.

"It's been really cool to see how much it's grown," O'Rourke said. "It's a very big accomplishment.

This year's pageant experience started with an orientation night March 5. Contestants spent six hours Saturday rehearsing, then competed in preliminary rounds Saturday night. Finals were Sunday.

Contestants were judged in fitness wear, fun fashion -- essentially a cocktail dress -- and an evening gown. They were also evaluated based on an interview.

There were 15 other contestants competing for the Miss Teen Minnesota crown and O'Rourke dealt with a lot of nerves Sunday as runners-up were announced. When judges announced the first runner up and it wasn't her, she figured she had a good chance. She was the only girl there who had been competing for three years, and she knew how much work she'd put in.

When they finally called her name, it was a thrill.

"My stomach dropped. I felt like I was going on a ride at Valleyfair," O'Rourke said. "It was crazy. It was an amazing experience. I still can't believe I actually won."

O'Rourke still hasn't told a lot of people around RHS about her win. Her good friends know and they're excited for her. But to most of her classmates she's still just another student.

She's a very busy, student, though. With the tiara and sash in her possession O'Rourke has a lot of traveling and a lot of speaking in front of her. She looks forward to spreading her message.

She will also travel to Chicago in June to compete in the Miss Teen International pageant.