Alexina Federhen of Bennington is Miss Vermont 2022 and will be competing in the Miss America competition.

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BENNINGTON — Miss Vermont 2022 was born and raised in Bennington. Now, she’ll represent the town on the national stage at the Miss America competition.

Alexina Federhen, 24, graduated from Mount Anthony Union High School and studied designed environmental analysis at Cornell. After she graduated, she worked at an architecture firm until COVID-19 left her without a job.

Not one to be up the creek without a paddle, she opened her own business.

“I work with women-owned businesses, creating brand identities, website design, packaging design ... and it’s so great to be able to empower other amazing women,” she said.

She wants to be able to support other strong women who are thriving in spite of the challenges the world throws at them. Eventually, she will get her master’s degree in graphic design, but she decided to take a year off to focus her attention on being Miss Vermont.

It began at the Battle Day Parade

Federhen saw her first Miss Vermont at a Bennington Battle Day Parade when she was 10 years old. She looked up at the woman in the pink gown and immediately realized she wanted to be like her, “because no one’s gonna be mean to a queen.”

Federhen was bullied throughout her school years because of her reading disability and growing up in a single-parent home. She speaks highly of her mother, who supported her from the beginning; it’s clear the two are close.

The week after the Battle Day Parade, they got the newspaper and saw a listing for a fair pageant. Her mother asked her if she wanted to participate.

“That’s how it started. Actually, one essay contest, I wrote about apple pie,” said Federhen.

These competitions became a way for her to connect with other young women who were also “passionate about something larger than themselves,” she said.

She was hooked

Once Federhen was in the competitions, she said, “I was finally in a spot where I could grow, and people weren’t looking down on me for trying new things or testing myself.”

She described a beautiful camaraderie. No one held her back. Other competitors would invite her to different events and appearances, and she got help whenever she needed it.

When it came time for the Miss Vermont competition on April 2, Federhen already had a few competitions under her belt, including when she was crowned Miss Southern Vermont.

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The Miss Vermont competition has four categories: talent, interview, red carpet and social impact pitch.

For her talent, Federhen sang Adele’s “Turning Tables.” She chose this song because she sees it as an expression of a change in reality and realizing that the power is inside of you, not in the opinions of other people.

“Everyone is gifted with the power to do amazing things like from birth, and it’s just about harnessing that,” she said.

When she sang at her first competition, she said she couldn’t get a note out. She “just stood there.”

Although she’s not a natural singer, she worked hard to get her stage song ready for the Miss Vermont judges; it was good enough for them.

When it came time to choose a social impact platform, Federhen chose mental health. It’s something she has struggled with her whole life, and she’s not ashamed to say so. She wants to normalize the conversation around mental health.

From a young age, it’s instilled in kids to put their best foot forward, but “that’s not real,” she said. “I’ve always wanted things to fit nicely in little boxes.” She would pretend like she wasn’t struggling with “a constant pit of anxiety.”

Eventually, she realized that being perfect isn’t realistic, and that it’s OK to struggle and ask for help. That’s the message she wants to spread as Miss Vermont, that it takes strength to ask for help, and that there shouldn’t be a stigma around mental health, because so many struggle with it.

During her reign

Federhen will compete in the Miss America competition in December. She’s excited to meet more women in the competition world because she said, “the sisterhood is real.” She’s looking forward to adding to the long list of lifelong friends she’s made in the competition circuit.

While it is a competition, and she admits it would be nice to win, Federhen said, “You’re not competing against these other women. You’re competing against yourself.”

She’s also proud that she gets to represent Vermont on a national level.

Federhen thanked the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization Inc.

“I would not be the same person I am sitting here today, without this organization.”


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