Lexy Schenk

For Lexy Schenk of Irene, a decision she randomly made in high school, is for the second time leading her to a national stage.

Schenk, Miss South Dakota 2015, will be competing at the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana starting on June 28, culminating with the live pageant on July 12 on NBC.

“I ran for my first pageant when I was a freshman in high school,” Schenk said. “I got a brochure in the mail and I was so involved in different events that I thought why not do something different. Irene didn’t have dance, but I have always wanted to do something different and this was a good opportunity for me.

Schenk said that she has learned confidence and humbleness by being involved in the pageants.

“I competed in the Miss South Dakota Teen event for two years and I won my second year (2011),” she said. “So, I was a teen title holder in high school. After that I decided I wanted to continue because I loved the competitions and being up on stage.”

And, while she believes having competed in the Miss Teen USA Pageant has helped her know what to expect in the upcoming weeks, she knows it is not the same.

“As far as the competition goes I think Miss USA is in such a different caliber than Miss Teen USA,” she said. “You are going to be down there for two weeks and we were only there for   ve days with Miss Teen USA. So, I think it is going to be more strenuous. I think competing on the national stage before has given me more con  dence.”

Even though the actual pageant doesn’t begin until late June, her duties have been going on since the day she won the crown.

“Throughout the year we are asked to do several appearances around the state,” she said. “I went to New York and attended a Sherry Hill Fashion Show. We were invited to a USO event, but I wasn’t able to attend: just random stuff like that. Other duties included attending the Pageant Power Show up in the cities in Minnesota. Where we were introduced to different things like makeup and hair lessons.”

She noted that the pageant is divided into three different categories swimsuit, interview and evening gown. Then the top five will have to answer an onstage question.

She also said if she is named a semi-finalist, Irene will be seen nationwide.

“There was a film crew who came to Irene to film about me, they did it for all of the 51 contestants, it is called ‘Road To The Crown.’ If I make the top 15 or 20 at Miss USA it will be played on television. If I don’t they are still going to put them out on YouTube so everyone can see them.”

Schenk said no one from South Dakota has ever won the Miss USA pageant and she thinks the last time a contestant from the state made the semi-finals was in 1974.

She also said for her family, Lonnie and Kathy Schenk and sister Lydia being involved is something they all take pride in.

“My dad cries every time he watches my crowning video,” Schenk said. “That a girl from small town South Dakota, Irene, South Dakota, to be exact can win two titles and compete on the national stage twice to represent the state is just amazing. I am so proud. It is cool that I get to go here.”

Schenk leaves for the national pageant, being held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 28 and will be there until July 14. The national pageant will be broadcast live on July 12 on NBC.

“I am excited be down there because I don’t travel a lot,” she said. “Meeting all the different contestants when I was at Miss Teen USA was a highlight, so I am looking forward to that. Just being able to say I competed on the stage for Miss USA is something I can cherish forever.”

As for what happens after the national pageant, Schenk said she will have to wait and see.

“In our state pageant we get different scholarships for winning,” she said. “If we were to win the Miss USA pageant then we would move to New York and work for the Miss Universe organization.”

If she does not win, then she said she will return to college to finish her last three semesters.

“This will be the last pageant I participate in for a while,” she said. “I had just planned on competing until I won and it happened in two years. I have a year and a half of nursing school left, so we will see were my life takes me. I am planning on passing my nursing boards and seeing where life takes me.”

She is currently a junior Nursing Major at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

During her spare time and in between study sessions, she works at Sanford Health in Vermillion as a Nursing Assistant. In addition to that, she also works at USD in the Occupational Therapy Department as a work-study student. Off campus Lexy is involved with being a volunteer for the Special Olympics. She volunteers to help out with various events such as basketball, track and even bowling.

As for future Miss South Dakota and Miss Teen South Dakota contestants, Schenk has one word of advice: be involved.

“I would tell everyone to get involved,” she said. “I don’t consider myself a typical pageant girl. I did my first competition and got Miss Teen. It is such a rewarding feeling that you get to look your best and feel your best on stage. Then you come back and you compete again and again until you win, it is just such an amazing feeling that you went after something you wanted and reached your goals. Just being up on stage and showing your confidence to everyone is so fun.”

Prelims for the Miss USA Pageant begin July 8, finals will be broadcast live July 12, 7 p.m. on NBC. You can follow the pageant at