When she was 14 Ahwatukee Foothills resident Stephanie Austin entered a pageant as the next step to all the drama, dancing and commercials she was doing as a teen. Today, as a mother of two, she has entered the Mrs. Arizona pageant to make connections, hear stories, and celebrate the person she has become.

“I’m excited to do it now at this time in my life,” she said. “Those other ones were fun and what I remember from it is it was fun to meet other girls and it was fun to dress up and it was fun to be on stage, but now I’m excited because it really means something to me. I know who I am, I have two beautiful children, I have the most amazing husband. To do it at this point in my life, I feel really excited and blessed.”

The Mrs. Arizona pageant starts with an application for a city title. A group of judges select the woman who will represent each city based on their application. Austin was selected to represent Ahwatukee.

Contestants given a city title will compete in the Mrs. Arizona America Pageant on May 2 and 3 at the Mesa Arts Center. That pageant includes a personal interview, evening gown and swim suit portion. The winner will go on to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant.

“Aside from the fact that I get to dress up and get our of yoga pants, which is really exciting, I’ve already, just in preparation, gotten out of my comfort zone and pushed myself to be a better version of me, physically and emotionally,” Austin said. “I really am a social butterfly. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. This would give me a chance and a reason to do that. I think that’s worth getting uncomfortable for.”

Austin said already just wearing her “Mrs. Ahwatukee” sash has given her a chance to get to know people she normally wouldn’t. She’s excited to get to know more women through the pageant and, if she wins, meet more people throughout the year. If she wins she plans to use her platform to encourage children to read.

“I’m big for children’s reading so I’d love to go around and get kids excited about books and excited about reading,” she said. “I was raised by a single mom so she was working a lot so I didn’t get to go to bed with three bedtime stories every night. For me to be married and have a healthy relationship and have two kids I read to every night is a huge accomplishment.”

Tickets for the Mrs. Arizona America Pageant will go on sale April 10. For more information on the pageant, visit mrsarizonaamerica.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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