The years of training and competing in over 20 pagents has led Winkler to a win in Huntsville’s Rocket City Outstanding Teen, and a spot in the Alabama Outstanding Teen competition — the junior version of Miss Alabama.
The 16-year-old Dora High School junior said she loves being on stage and in front of people, but the best part of being in a pagent is the friendships she makes.
“It’s not dog-eat-dog out there like some people think. Everyone is so nice, and I always make new friends,” she said.
Beginning last year, Winkler entered her first Alabama Outstanding Teen preliminary pagent.
Her winning pagent was her sixth competition, but the first ever Rocket City Outstanding Teen pagent.
“It’s very exciting to win a pagent, especially since it was the first ever Rocket City Outstanding Teen pagent. It was an honor,” Winkler said.
Winkler was awarded a scholarship to Troy University for winning the competition, and said she has now over half of her college tuition paid for.
“It’s so important to go to college, and I am glad I can pay for it with my talent,” she said.
Her mother, Karen, agreed. “We are very proud of her, that she is so talented, and wants to use her talents for school.”
Winkler’s talent is playing piano. Something she said she’s been doing for nine years.
The lessons prepare her for the pagents, along with interview coaching lessons she takes with her piano teacher.
“Preparing is hard work,” said the teen.
Once the preparation is over, Winkler said she calms down until she performs.
“It’s an adrenaline rush to get up there and perform,” she said. “But once everything is over nerves do kick in.”
“I don’t get nervous during the interview or performance,” said Winkler. “I get the most nervous right before they call out the winner.”
When the announcer called her as the winner of the Rocket City Outstanding Teen, Winkler said she was ecstatic.
“It was very exciting. All of my hard work and preparation paid off,” she said. “It means the world to me.”
As she prepares for the state competition, Winkler said she will continue to work hard.
“I feel like I represent my school and county when I’m up there,” she said. “And I want to make them proud.”
The Alabama Outstanding Teen pagent is just the beginning, though, she said.
“This is the first step to Miss America.”