Who knew? Miss District of Columbia USA also happens to be a fledgling attorney.
Chelsey Rodgers, a student at Howard University Law School, is heading for the Miss USA competition in April, and she spoke with Legal Times about what it’s like to be a law student and a beauty queen.
What year are you at Howard?
I am in my last year. 66 days away from graduation. Not that I’m counting or anything.
How long have you been in pageants?
I actually started my first year of law school.
What type of law are you interested in practicing?
I’m going into corporate securities and business litigation. I took a job with McKee Nelson.
How do you balance law school with pageants?
I still haven't figured that out yet to be honest. When I get that answer I’ll get back to you. It involves a lot of iced coffees.
What does it take to be a beauty queen?
It's interesting because when I started doing pageants I have to admit I had a bad misconception of what pageants were, but what they are looking for are young ladies who speak and carry themselves confidently and young ladies who can serve as good role models.
What sort of feedback do you get from professors or other students about being a beauty queen?
Well, my school is very supportive. Howard is just incredibly supportive in the first place. People really reach out to help each other.... Every now and then we do get a pageant joke or two. One time in class I got a question on arraignments, and I hadn’t done an arraignment since the previous semester. My answer was obviously wrong, and the professor looked at me and I paused and said “And world peace.” My classmates gave me a standing ovation....You never know when a pageant technique might come in handy.
Has your study of law helped you win contests?
I do think it has, and I'm going to say that because with litigation you're dealing with being able to speak on your feet. I always say that the toughest interview I've ever had in my life is a pageant interview....There's no fear factor like being in a pageant interview because you have no idea what the next question is.
How are you preparing for the contest?
It’s a lot of mental preparation. I'm going to end up missing two and a half weeks of school which you know really, really breaks my heart, but it’s a lot of mental preparation for interviewing....And there's a lot of gym time. That might be my second degree right now.
If you win the Miss USA pagent, how will McKee Nelson handle you being gone for your first year?
When I expressed my desire to compete they were very supportive, and I mean the entire firm was very supportive....Besides, what law firm wouldn’t want a Miss USA to go out and meet with their clients.