Gabby Altenor, a May 2021 graduate in biology and Ablah Award recipient, was recently named Miss Capital City 2022, which is affiliated with the Miss America Organization.
Altenor credits Joseph Shepard, the former director of multicultural engagement and campus life at Newman University, as her inspiration for getting into pageants. She said he would often reference how her skills and abilities could make her successful in pageantry — and he was right.
“It feels surreal to be named Miss Capital City,” Altenor said. “It’s such an honor, and one my family and I never expected I would be blessed with.”
Entering the world of pageants
Altenor initially entered the competition partly because Shepard is now the executive director of Miss Wichita. He explained to her how the Miss America Organization has intentionally rebranded over the years and has made many changes, like removing the swimsuit portion of the pageant to reduce the focus on outward appearances. She was sold.
“Joseph has always taught me that growth doesn’t happen in comfort zones and that I should work to tackle discomfort with grace,” Altenor said. “Coming from Newman and other Catholic institutions where work is mission-oriented, the mission of Miss America was also an important inspiration for me.”
That mission is “to prepare great women for the world and prepare the world for great women.”
Altenor alluded to Newman’s mission and said, “It reminds me of empowering graduates to transform society, so even though I was scared, I knew it was the right thing to at least try a pageant.”
In for a wonderful ride
Some of the best experiences Altenor has had so far as Miss Capital City are when she interacts with children during her public appearances.
“They are the absolute sweetest and love to engage with me, whether it’s having a conversation, them showing me their talents or even just taking pictures with me in my crown,” she said. “It’s so fulfilling and grounding to be able to spend time with the children of Topeka and support them in various ways as Miss Capital City.”
Altenor’s goals as the titleholder for the upcoming year include promoting education throughout the community of Topeka.
“Education is the foundation for success at all levels because of how it opens the door to opportunity, especially in America,” she said. “Service, advocacy and counseling are all key components to ensuring success on top of education, especially for those without resources, and I hope to continue to further educational opportunities as Miss Capital City.”
Altenor also plans to prepare for the Miss Kansas competition that will be held next summer.
The ultimate goal
Outside of pageants, Altenor attends Washburn University School of Law where she’s a first-year student pursuing her Juris Doctor degree.
Ultimately, the reason Altenor enjoys the world of pageantry so much is because it provides her with the opportunity to network, gain critical skills, earn scholarships (the Miss America Organization is one of the biggest scholarship providers to women in the country) and more.
“I believe that the more formation I receive throughout this experience, the more I can better serve those in my life, including my future clients when I’m a practicing attorney,” she said.
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