From pageants to preparedness, Sul Ross’ Elmore balances activities, studies

ALPINE - Stephanie Elmore finds herself equally at home on a pageant stage, presenting research at the Geological Society of America national conference, fighting fires or teaching emergency preparedness and Hazardous Material handling. In the midst of a full and diverse schedule, the Sul Ross State University graduate student was recently crowned Miss Permian Basin 2018 and will compete later this year for the title of Miss Texas USA.

Meanwhile, Elmore pursues dual Master’s degrees in Geology and Homeland Security/Public Administration, belongs to both the Fort Stockton and Marathon Fire Departments, and serves an internship with the Brewster County Office of Emergency Management.

Elmore has participated in four pageants since her senior year in high school, but noted her initial decision to enter the Miss Fort Stockton pageant was an economic one.

“The interview process boosted my self-confidence and helped to prepare me for a scholarship interview,” said Elmore. “It (pageant) paid off. The scholarship (from the Abell Hanger Foundation) was worth $50,000, and I won. It paid for my bachelor’s degree (B.S. in Geology at Sul Ross) and the first two semesters of graduate studies.”

During Labor weekend, she will compete with about 100 other contestants for the Miss Texas USA title in Houston. The pageant winner will compete in the Miss USA pageant.

“Pageants are fun, because unlike the fire department, I can dress up and put on makeup,” she smiled. “That sure beats being out in the field (on a geological field trip) for a week without a shower.”

While pageant participation was almost an afterthought, Elmore’s family ties and a love of rocks and fossils piqued her other interests from a young age.

“My uncle, Charles Slater, has been on the fire department in Fort Stockton for 25 years, so I have been around fire departments all my life,” she said. She added that after she joined the Fort Stockton department, she met Dave Lambrix, Brewster County Emergency Management coordinator, and mentioned her interest in broader emergency training.

Elmore was offered an internship, and later completed Hazmat (handling hazardous materials) and Hazmat Handling instructor certification. She taught a Hazmat class to cadets in Sul Ross’ H. Joaquin Jackson Law Enforcement Academy.

“Working with Dave has definitely expanded my knowledge,” she said. “He has been a big help to me.”

“I love fighting fires, but I also like working on layouts for emergency planning.”

Elmore hopes to combine her love of geology and emergency management after receiving her dual Master’s degrees. “The U.S. Geological Survey has their own emergency management department and I would be very interested in working there.”

As an undergraduate, Elmore majored in geology and was a McNair Scholar. Mentored by Dr. David Rohr, Sul Ross Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geology, she made both a poster and an oral presentation at national meetings of the Geological Society of America.

“I was always collecting rocks and fossils, but until I got to Sul Ross I didn’t know there was a degree in geology,” she said. “I planned to be a petroleum engineer, but about three weeks into my first semester, I changed my major from chemistry to geology. I am a chemistry minor and although it was a challenging class, I ended up loving it.”

A typical day, should one exist in the emergency management field, finds Elmore attending classes, then traveling to area communities to assist area fire departments with training and standard operating procedures. Her internship duties also include working with Lambrix to maintain emergency radios and other communication equipment.

She credited her Sul Ross experience for providing both support and opportunity. “I love Sul Ross, especially how the professors really want to help you out. They help you get involved and sometimes push you beyond your comfort zone, like the McNair program. Dr. Rohr helped me to get my research published.”

“Faculty also are eager to use the Big Bend region as an outdoor classroom and I have truly enjoyed and learned from the field trips.”

Elmore is also looking forward to the Miss Texas USA pageant. “The last one ended on a good note, so I will try one more time.”

Since the statewide event is already on the calendar, she is confident there will be no interview postponements – as occurred with this one – due to fire calls.

The Big Bend Sentinel

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