Leah Roddenberry represents our hometown as Miss Florida at the 100th Miss America Pageant.
SRQ Review | October 2021
Leah Roddenberry (@ leahkrodd / @ missamericafl) comes to her hometown in style. Special thanks to the Sarasota Classic Car Museum for using their 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Photos by Wyat
Leah Roddenberry was so shy that at six years old, her friends’ parents wondered if she could speak. In Cardinal Mooney’s high school, she kept her head down, sporting a low braid and headband while examining the facts of PA history and focusing on getting good grades. “There was always this fear of what people thought of me,” says Leah, describing an anxiety that slowly subsided thanks to, as she calls it, “The Organization”.
Beginning with the Sunshine Princess program, the gateway to Miss America’s realm, Leah entered a world of mentoring and rigorous personal investment, ultimately inspiring a dream with not-so-sweet stepping stones. Not one, but two wins as Miss Florida Outstanding Teen in 2013 and 2015 was just the start, paving the way for Miss University of Florida, which Leah won in sophomore in 2019, and then Miss Tampa, conquered in 2020. at age 20. And it wasn’t until June that Leah was named the 85th Miss Florida, ready to compete in the 100th Miss America Pageant next December. In her first month on the job, Leah Roddenberry traveled 3,000 miles sketching wardrobe designs all the way to the American Cornhole World Championship in Manatee County, from nursing homes to elementary schools, engaging a united face and highlighted wherever he may need it. “It’s a platform for doing good in my community and across the state,” she says, acting as her own reservation agent, cold calling nonprofits and local organizations on the day. and sending hundreds of emails at night. She calls it her “year of service,” evoking a courage and resilience that combats outdated visions of swimwear competitions and girls with nothing but a smile and a scarf.
Instead, at 22, Leah Roddenberry is the founder of Be a LeadHER, a nonprofit that encourages young girls to find their voice, express their opinions and shamelessly pursue their goals, as well as the author of children’s book, Lea goes to Washington, for politically ambitious people and citizens. “Being politically ambitious doesn’t just mean waiting until you turn 18 to vote or run for office,” she says. “It means getting involved in your community, finding out what excites you and knowing that there really is no age limit to making a difference in your community.
Proceeds from her book go into the Ignite Your Spark Scholarship Fund, which Leah hopes to someday award to a girl in every state, honoring what she says is no longer a beauty pageant, but a scholarship contest. “We are changing as society moves forward,” she says, “now focusing on what young women do in their community, their education and career goals, and who and what they stand for. Throughout her career, Leah has won more than $ 37,000 in scholarships from the Miss America Foundation, the nation’s largest provider of scholarships for women. She plans to attend Belmont University College of Law in Nashville next fall, though, she admits, her year of service may somehow distract her, as she hopes.