Riverton High grad overcomes challenges to represent Utah at the Miss Volunteer America pageantMay 08, 2023 12:27PM ● By Peri Kinder
Riverton High grad Gentry Rose was crowned Miss Utah Volunteer and will go on to compete at the Miss Volunteer America pageant in June. (Photo courtesy of Miss Utah Volunteer)
Gentry Rose is no stranger to hard times. So when a friend convinced her to participate in the Miss Utah Volunteer pageant, she had her platform already decided: assist children living in poverty. Her platform helped win her the crown.
“When I was in middle school, my brother was diagnosed with cancer and my dad lost his job,” she said. “We had no way to pay for his treatments. It was either make house payments or make payments toward treatment. Of course, we chose treatment. We lost our house and I was homeless for a couple of years.”
During that time, Rose changed schools often and the family never had much money. “I know what it feels like to go to school in the same clothes you’ve worn for three days. I know what it’s like to be eating the cheapest meal you can get to feed your family.”
The Riverton High grad has competed in several pageants over the last few years, including serving as second attendant to Miss Riverton, but winning the Miss Utah Volunteer fits in with her service mindset.
The 22-year-old is the founder of Clean Bee, an organization that raises funds for schools across the state, providing soap, shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Rose also collected more than 2,000 pairs of shoes to distribute to children in need along the Wasatch Front.
She never expected to attend college but when she was offered a full-ride dance scholarship, she was excited to enroll. However, during COVID, she was diagnosed with pectus excavatum, a condition that causes the ribcage to concave. It collapsed both of her lungs and displaced her heart. A titanium bar was inserted into her chest to hold her ribcage strong, but she lost her scholarship because she could no longer dance.
“I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks,” she said. “I couldn’t lift my arms. I was on heavy oxygen. It was such an isolating moment and such a hard moment. It was like something I’d know my entire life had all been taken away from me.”
Now, she said she’s so glad it happened because she never would have gone into nursing school. Influenced by someone during a dark point in her life, she is now a full-time nursing student and works in the University of Utah Hospital’s cardiovascular medical unit.
Rose will compete at the Miss Volunteer America pageant in Tennessee on June 17-24. She’s going into the competition with an open mind, an open heart and letting go of any expectations. She learns something new every time she participates in a pageant and believes everything happens for a reason.
“During times of adversity, you might not understand why that situation is occurring to you, or maybe you feel like you did something wrong. But as experiences come to you, you’ll look back and be grateful.”
The Miss Utah Volunteer organization provides $20,000 in educational scholarships and crowns three titleholders who spend their year leveraging volunteerism in Utah by promoting their S.E.R.V.E. initiatives and integrating service throughout the state.
“We are excited to have these young ladies work and volunteer in their communities and be examples to those around them of what can be accomplished when one takes the initiative to stand up and serve,” Kellie Buckale said, who serves on the executive board of the Miss Utah Volunteer Organization. “When someone speaks and acts in a way that inspires others, we celebrate them for finding their voice and using it for good. Miss Utah Volunteer strives to be that person. The one who inspires women around the state to stand in their truth without apology and follow their dreams to the end.”
Follow Rose’s pageant journey on Instagram @MissVolunteerAmericaPag. λ