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Submitted photosAllyn Rose, better known as Ally, is a graduate of La Plata High School. She is also is a member of Delta Gamma sorority at the University of Maryland, College Park.
For a girl at 16, life is hard enough.
For a girl to lose her mother just when she's entering young adulthood is even harder. Ask Allyn Rose, a philosophy and government and politics major at University of Maryland, College Park, where she is a senior.
"Sixteen is a rough age … you're just coming into your own," said Rose, a Newburg native, whose mother, Judith died in 2004 of breast cancer when her only daughter was still in high school. "It's difficult," she said of her mom's death. "I always thought she would beat it. I no longer had the luxury of my youth anymore."
Yet, Rose wasn't alone, while her older brother, Dane, was in his early 20s, at the time, younger brother, Xyan was just 13.
"One of the last things my mom said to me was Take care of your little brother … he's a little lamb'," Rose recently recalled.
When Xyan, 19, headed to college — University of Maryland like his older sister — Rose thought of how proud her mom, an architect who ran her own firm, would be.
"When he started college, when my dad and I sort of sent him off … I knew he was going to be OK," Rose said.
Rose, who plans to head to law school once she completes her undergraduate studies, credits her mother, who ran marathons and encouraged her children to participate in sports and other activities, with instilling in her that "You can do anything" quality.
"My mom was the type of person that would push me to [be involved]," said Rose, a former champion figure skater on roller skates. "She always told me, You're best quality is your star quality.'"
When an e-mail was sent to the sisters of the Delta Gamma sorority looking for women interested in competing in the Miss Sinergy pageant – a contest developed by the Sinergy marketing group to showcase the new company's commitment to philanthropic endeavors, Rose was interested.
"It would be something I was interested in anyway," said Rose, who has done some modeling in the past. When she found out that the pageant would benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation for breast cancer research, Rose was sold.
"It's one of those things for a really good cause," she said, adding that the competition is friendly but not without edge.
While the contestants are judged on congeniality, personality and other criteria, the participants aren't sabotaging each other, but are in it to win it.
"We're competitive. Everyone wants to go for the crown," she said.
The winner will be the company's spokesmodel for 2010 — touting the company's fashion line and energy drink while representing the marketing company. She will also receive a two-year contract with Ryan's Agency for Models and prizes from retailers such as MAC Cosmetics, Betsey Johnson and a $1,000 check from Sinergy.
Currently, Rose is in the running for the pageant's "most photogenic" title. A sort of "people's choice" award, online voting is open at the pageant's Web site at www.misssinergy.com.
For Rose, the contest is a bit of glamour — she competed in a "rinky dink" pageant when she was 12 — but more importantly, allows her to raise awareness for breast cancer, a disease she all but grew up in the shadow of.
"My mom was first diagnosed when she was 27," Rose said of her mother's battle with the disease that, other than non-melanoma skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control's Web site. "[The cancer] came back when she was in her 50s. She was diagnosed for the second time when I was a freshman in high school and spent two years battling it. It's one of those things … she didn't have the breast cancer gene."
Rose saw her mother become a warrior to fight the disease, including a "last ditch" attempt at trying experimental treatments, which uprooted the family for a time to Southern California while Judith Rose underwent treatment at a Los Angeles hospital.
All the while, Judith Rose was preparing her daughter for a life without her.
"My mom is the reason I joined a sorority … she said, You don't have a lot of family …' The girls have been a big support group."
Still, Rose never thought she'd lose her mother to cancer.
"Up until the day she died," Rose said, "I thought she would make it."
The Miss Sinergy pageant will be Nov. 14 at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C. Currently, online voting is open to select the contest's most photogenic contestant – or People's Choice. Newburg native Allyn Rose is among the 20 contestants.
To vote for Rose or to learn more about the pageant, go to www.misssinergy.com.