Tlingit woman to represent Alaska at Miss USA pageant

Alyssa London was crowned Miss Alaska USA 2017. (Photo: Matthew Crockett)

For the first time in pageant history, a Tlingit woman will represent Alaska on the national stage. Alyssa London was crowned Miss Alaska earlier this month and said, even before she was crowned, the experience felt unreal.

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“I was just in shock. I was so happy, but it was, like ‘wow,’ this is happening. My dream came true. I was speechless,” London explained after she was crowned.

London competed in her first pageant when she was 17. She said that drive for success was also what got her into Stanford University. She said she had wanted to attend since she first stepped on campus with her father for an alumni weekend when she was 10 years old. He told her she would have to work really hard to make that happen.

“You’ll need to get really good grades and be involved in your community and do extracurricular activities,” London’s father told her.

London visited Sitka in January, where she spoke to students at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. She hopes her achievements will inspire girls to dream big, especially in the business world.

“I will do everything I can to advocate on behalf of women who are in business and help us break the glass ceiling,” London said.

Whether it’s graduating from Stanford, starting her own business, or being the first Tlingit woman crowned Miss Alaska USA, London said none of her achievements have happened overnight.

“I really want to do Alaska proud,” London said. If she’s crowned Miss USA, she would not only be the first Miss Alaska to achieve that honor, but she would also be the first Native woman to wear the national crown.

“I really do see this as an opportunity to serve and make a difference and not just wear a pretty crown,” London said.

Alyssa London will go on to compete for Miss USA this summer.

Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer.

Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF.

Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about.

Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.

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