Pageant title another stage in teen's success

By Erika Venter

Stratford's Alex Merson, who this month was crowned Miss Taranaki 2013 in the first beauty competition she has entered, says she will see where this new road takes her.

"It is the first thing like this that I have entered," says the 17-year-old Stratford High School student. "I would like to give it a go."

Alex says she was taken by surprise when announced the winner, having entered just for the "fun and experience".

"I couldn't form the words. It was crazy. I kept expecting to wake up."

Though it was her first beauty competition, Alex is no stranger to the stage, having taken part in jazz dancing since the age of 6, being a student leader last year for the school's Stage Challenge group and being a hair model for cousin Tracey Short. Last year she also won top senior model parading a garment she had designed and a garment designed by mum Philippa at the Fashion Art Awards in New Plymouth.

It was due to awards organiser Lois Finderup that she entered Miss Taranaki.

"I thought about it last time, but didn't enter. Lois said (after the awards) that I have no excuse not to enter."

Modelling lessons with Lois is part of the prize she has won. "It will be a confidence booster, and it is fun." The prize package also included jewellery worth $1500 and a $750 hair and make-up voucher.

Apart from her grandmother Fay Merson, who was a singer, she is the first in her family to take to the stage, but she says her mum and dad, Peter, owners of Showcase Jewellers that also sponsored her, fully supported her decision to enter.

Alex says she has not decided on a career yet, but that she would love to do something with drama. "But, realistically, it is hard to get into."

Alex was born and raised in Stratford.

She attended St Joseph's Primary and says she aims to participate in as many activities as possible in her current school.

Last year she placed second in her year academically with her subjects having been English, mathematics, biology, physics, history and drama.

She also captained her school's B netball team and this year is part of the school's Australian netball tour team.

In a last word she thanks Lois, the judges and choreographers as well as her parents and sponsors for their support.

- Stratford Press

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