Sloane Roberts of Rison waves to the crowd at Summit Arena in Hot Springs after being crowned Miss Arkansas 2012 on July 14. (Special to The Commercial/Michelle Roberts)
Miss Arkansas 2012, Sloane Roberts, is shown with her sash and crown as she sits for an interview. (Special to The Commercial William Harvey)
Miss Arkansas 2012, Sloane Roberts, discusses her year in the spotlight. (Special to The Commercial William Harvey)
Sloane Roberts of Rison was crowned Miss Arkansas 2012 at the 75th annual Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant July 14 in Hot Springs.
Now 20, Roberts was still a teenager when she made her emotional walk down the runway in the Summit Arena at the start of her tenure last summer, making her the youngest Miss Arkansas since 1983.
While a true beauty in the traditional sense of the word, Roberts is also very much imbued with a warm personality that puts lie to the old adage beauty is only skin deep.
When asked what the best part of being crowned Miss Arkansas is, Roberts said it has been the opportunity to visit with children.
“Honestly it’s probably all of the school experiences with all of those kids,” Roberts said. “I spoke at the Beta Club convention recently. I was very active in Beta Club in high school, so for me to go back and be their motivational speaker was pretty cool. I had kids come up to me and tell me how inspired they were and that’s really what it’s all about; being able to inspire and being a leader for them.”
Roberts said that Miss Arkansas is the official ambassador for the state.
“It’s in legislation so I’m the real one,” Roberts said with a smile.
Roberts said that another major component of her duties as Miss Arkansas is to speak to groups on behalf of her personal platform of child abduction prevention under the banner ‘Love Always Hopes: Preventing Child Abduction’ and the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, which is the national Miss America platform.
“I speak to elementary school kids about stranger danger and ways to stay safe and to high school students mainly about internet safety so that’s my main priority for this year,” Roberts said. “I do a lot of different things with Children’s Hospital in Arkansas. I volunteer and hang out with those kids for several hours at a time and that is so fun. It’s very eye opening, humbling and heart-wrenching. Those kids are awesome.”
Roberts said that her work to prevent child abduction has been her pageant platform since the beginning.
“I was 12 years old and I was watching the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition of Colleen Nick’s house, who is Morgan Nick’s mom and founder of the Morgan Nick Foundation,” Roberts said, recounting her first exposure to the story of the six year old girl who was abducted from a little league baseball field. “At that time my little brother was six years old and it just clicked. I was just, oh my goodness, if my little brother was taken away from my family I would just be devastated and I just couldn’t fathom it.”
Roberts is quick to defend the pageant system of the Miss America Organization against any charges that it somehow objectifies women or demeans them.
“I can see in some cases where people may think that but they’re people looking in from the outside,” Roberts said. “From the inside looking out you can see all the good in it and that’s what we try to get across to people; the benefits you receive from it. We try to do that by speaking to schools, civic clubs and other organizations to let more and more people know how great the system is and how beneficial it is to be involved.”
Roberts explained that due to the more than $43,000 in scholarships she has won during her seven years competing within the Miss Arkansas system, her education at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she will be a senior in the fall of 2013, is being paid for in full.
“That is what we want to be known for,” Roberts said of the organization. “Not only healthy living and community involvement but also scholastic achievement and receiving a higher education.”
Promoting inner beauty
Roberts is a dancer. Her talent in the Miss Arkansas and Miss America pageants was tap dancing and she is using her gift to enhance the self esteem of girls who attend her dance studio in Fayetteville.
“I love teaching dance,” Roberts said. “I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when I was three years old and that’s how I started taking dance, as an extension of my physical therapy, so it’s kind of cool the way God works because it was a blessing in disguise. I was able to create a passion for dance and now I’m able to instill that passion in younger girls.”
“I was talking to a little girl the other day who’s turning 13,” Roberts said. “I asked about her plans for competing in the prelims for the Outstanding Teen pageant and she told me that she thought she needed to lose a lot of weight. And I said, girl don’t you worry about your weight, you’re 13 years old. You do not need to be worried about that. It’s all about what you look like on the inside and the Miss America organization promotes that.”
Roberts is very committed to her Christian faith and recounted how the happiness that she feels on a daily basis provided an opportunity to share her faith with fellow contestants at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in early January.
“There were several girls who weren’t necessarily believers and they would ask me how I could be so happy in a week that for them was so stressful,” Roberts said. “There was one girl in particular who was very curious and kept asking me questions. I told her everything about my life, my walk with God and how I accepted Him. I said that all she had to do is accept Him because He has already accepted her and all she has to do is ask Him to come into her heart.”
Roberts continued to speak with the young woman to help her understand how faith works, using analogies comparing the process to falling in love and to the deep roots of a strong tree.
“The night after the pageant I went up to her and congratulated her for making the top ten,” Roberts said. “She told me ‘I kind of believe a little bit more. I don’t get it yet but I kind of get it.’ It was huge.”
Roberts went on to say that several days after the pageant she received a text from the woman who told her that she had experienced a dream in which she was holding the hand of Jesus and came to feel a sense of comfort and peace.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever heard,” Roberts said.
Roberts was voted Miss Congeniality by a majority of the 51 other contestants at the Miss America pageant in January.
“They announced it in the dressing room while we were getting ready and the tears just started flowing,” Roberts said. “I was just so honored and humbled. I just tried to be nice to everybody. I guess it’s just southern hospitality at its finest.”
Roberts left no doubt as to her feelings on being selected for the honor.
“That was the coolest thing I’ve ever received, over any crown, any trophy,” Roberts said. “It’s the best award I’ve ever received without a doubt.”
Roberts puts her Las Vegas experience into perspective.
“After my experience sharing my faith with others I realized that’s why I went to Miss America,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t to be Miss America and it wasn’t to be in the top five. It was being there to be a light for those other girls. I was there for a reason and I can walk away from that experience with absolutely no regrets.”
A week in the life
Roberts provided a snapshot of her whirlwind 12 months on the road as Miss Arkansas by describing her schedule for the upcoming week.
“This week I’m speaking to about eight schools in the Van Buren, Fort Smith area,” Roberts said on a Monday morning. “I will also be speaking to three or four different civic clubs. I will be at a preliminary pageant this weekend and on Sunday I will attend a father-daughter luncheon at a church. Next Monday it’s back to northwest Arkansas and then Tuesday to Stuttgart then back to Little Rock for a couple of days before going back to northwest Arkansas and then I come home.”
Roberts said that she travels in a Chevrolet Equinox SUV furnished by Bale Chevrolet in Little Rock and that the large vehicle is essential to haul her luggage.
“My car is packed for the next three weeks,” Roberts said. “I literally have two completely full suitcases of just clothes- and shoes of course. I have to pack with a different outfit for every day.”
Roberts is proud of her roots and devoted to her hometown of Rison, Arkansas.
“My neighborhood and my church family and my school family,” Roberts said. “It’s been crazy to see the amount of encouragement they have given me in this year alone. It means so much and I couldn’t have done this without them. They’re just awesome.”