[lightbox link=”http://ciri.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Rosie2.jpg” thumb=”http://ciri.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Rosie2-300×200.jpg” width=”300″ align=”left” title=”Photo by Dacia Idom” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=”Photo by Dacia Idom”]Originally from Point Hope, Rosemary Berg isn’t your typical beauty pageant contestant – and that suits her just fine. Initially, the half Inupiaq, half African-American woman “had a stereotype of what a pageant queen looks like… I was a basketball player; when people were encouraging me to run [for Miss Alaska United States], I was still pretty heavy.” But the opportunity to “encourage, inspire and empower young women” ultimately led to her decision to compete.
As a young child, Berg and her two siblings were placed by their mother in the foster care system. When she was 6 years old, she was adopted by a family in Anchorage. (Berg’s adoptive mother is CIRI shareholder Melanya Oskolkoff Berg.)
“When I was younger, I was in a series of negative relationships. I struggled with depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder); I had lost friends to suicide. I knew many young people had gone through the same things I had, but no one was talking about it. I decided to run for Miss WEIO (World Eskimo-Indian Olympics) so I could share my story,” Berg said.
In 2012, Berg was crowned Miss WEIO. The title entailed numerous public appearances, which gave her an opportunity to share her platform and her knowledge, understanding and appreciation of her Native heritage. Though she initially wasn’t open to furthering her pageant career, as she traveled throughout Alaska as Miss WEIO, and later to Brazil and New Zealand with a program called Youth With a Mission, Berg “realized that the message you carry – this message of overcoming fear and trauma – is so important to share.”
Berg was crowned Miss Alaska United States in March 2016. Her platform, Dare to be Darling, is inspired by Song of Solomon 7:4, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
“Dare to be Darling challenges young women to step into their identity and purpose,” Berg said. “By sharing my story and partnering with different organizations, I can touch not only young women, but hopefully young men and the older generations as well.”
As Miss Alaska United States, Berg makes numerous public appearances (she’s obligated to at least three per month) and engages in charity work. One avenue that allows her to reach young people is What Up Wednesday, a Facebook live video series. The forum provides a way for Millennials (individuals born 1982-2004) to ask Berg questions. “We talk about everything,” Berg said. “Very serious topics like domestic violence and sexual abuse, and more lighthearted stuff like beauty products and how to eat healthy while traveling.”
In August, Berg will compete in the Miss United States pageant in Las Vegas. The phases of competition include a personal interview, which is conducted privately among contestants and judges; swimsuit and fitness; evening wear; and answering a random question onstage.
In addition to pageant activities, Berg is a summer intern with Arctic Slope Regional Corp. “I’m a shareholder of ASRC and a CIRI descendant – I feel like I have the best of both worlds,” she said. Berg recently completed a bachelor’s degree in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Regent University.
A recipient of scholarship funds from The CIRI Foundation, Berg said she is “so thankful for all CIRI has done for its shareholders and descendants. [The corporation] does a really good job at empowering us. They focus on what people are doing in real life in their communities. For me, that’s huge – it’s a reminder that people notice what I’m doing.”
For more information on Rosemary Berg and Dare to be Darling, visit www.rosejanae.com.