Updated: Mar 6
By Callie Daruk
Known by those who love her most as a kindhearted and passionate godly woman, Alex Francke is known around the country and particularly the Bluegrass state as Miss Kentucky. Rooted & Grounded had the honor of getting to know this precious woman whose beautiful exterior is just a small reflection of her loving heart. It only took a few minutes of talking to her to realize that the old soul and the beauty that exudes from her is far more than skin deep. With wisdom beyond her years and a passion for helping others, the crown and sash she proudly wears were clearly made just for her and placed around her shoulders by heavenly design. We talked with her recently and here’s what she had to say.
R&G: Alex, I’d like to start with the most important question first. What do you think of Baby Yoda?
Alex: "I love Baby Yoda! I’m obsessed with him. I’m embarrassed to admit how many photos I have of him on my phone right now. I absolutely love Star Wars!"
R&G: We know much you love Star Wars, Alex, and wanted to you feel right at home. On a more serious note, congratulations on being crowned Miss Kentucky in June of 2019. Most recently, you represented the state of Kentucky in the Miss America competition. What was that experience like?
Alex: “Being a part of Miss America is so much about the journey and so little about the destination. The actual competition takes place over a week and that final night is over in under two hours. You have girls that have worked their entire lives to get to that point and then it’s over. This is something I’ve worked towards for about six, maybe seven years. It was an absolute dream come true but I had an experience at Miss Kentucky the year before I won, where I was the first runner up. It really shook me and challenged me to put my faith in God – in something that was so much bigger than the actual competition itself. I think if I hadn’t had that experience, I would be feeling so heartbroken right now; that the thing I’d worked my whole life toward was gone but because I could see how God was able to use that in my life. I know that there are even parts of this experience that will come up later in my life that I don’t even realize right now.
I have so much peace about the whole thing.
Whether I came in dead last or whether I walked away Miss America, I knew that whatever it was, was the absolute best possible outcome for me. I walked away with such peace and certainty about it which was such a blessing because I’ve been talking to some of my other Ms. America sisters and they’re really having a hard time moving on from, what do I do now? For me, I haven’t had that experience and I think that’s one of the biggest blessings that the Lord has given me, walking away from this. I want this to be just a stepping stone in the path that God has laid out for my life and I think that if I hadn’t had that experience it wouldn’t be as easy for me to understand."
R&G: That is such a wise perspective, Alex.
Alex: "Well, it was really insane because they only did a top fifteen and from there only the top seven got to compete so you have 30-40 other women who are incredible, who are so well spoken, talented, accomplished and we’re all sitting back there feeling kind of empty handed. I got the opportunity to be there and to pour God’s love into women that were heartbroken and crying because their dreams didn’t come true - they feel like they fell short; like they’d failed. I think I was able to give people a comfort in that moment hearing that this was a part of our plan. It was for our protection and our betterment not a punishment. I think it was really important for women to hear that weren’t necessarily Christ followers and that didn’t have a relationship with Jesus."
R&G: Let’s talk a little about the role you serve in as Miss Kentucky. Currently, you work for the KY Department of Agriculture as the spokesperson for KY Proud. How has working for them deepened your love for all things Kentucky?
Alex: “I think farmers are some of the most kindhearted, genuine, sincere people you’ll ever meet. I’ve never met anyone that works harder and loves bigger. They are literally rooted and grounded. They have such an understanding of life, of our purpose, and of who we serve. It’s really such an honor to get to work with the farming community. I don’t think there’s anyone better. My mom grew up in a really small town in Kentucky and she says all the time there’s no one else she’d want her kid to be hanging around for a year than the ag community. It’s just so remarkable to be able to represent them and it’s remarkable to learn. I’m always willing to listen and have an open ear and an open mind I just want to learn and give people an opportunity to talk about the things that are important to them and the things that are important to their ag lifestyle. I’ve learned a lot about ag!"
R&G: Do you have a favorite KY made product?
Alex: "Honey. I’m kind of like poo-bear. I love honey."
R&G: At the age of 16, you formed your own non-for-profit: Adopt an Art. Tell us about your organization.
Alex: "Long story short, I got the opportunity to experience Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts and it was at that summer program that I really came to understand what the educational opportunities really looked like in Kentucky for students who weren’t living in Lexington and Louisville. I really began to understand what it looks like to pursue something that isn’t represented well in your hometown and I was unsettled by it. I started looking into these opportunities and I found there were so many schools and communities that didn’t have arts resources for kids. I wanted to do something about it. I found that one of the best ways to combat a problem and if it makes you that mad, you get up one day and decide you’re going to do something about it yourself. I started as an after-school program but now the program looks different since I’m traveling. It’s on a franchise model with others who have started their own adopt-an-art program in their communities and they are the ones running it."
R&G: Is this program limited to Kentucky?
Alex: "Currently we only have areas in Kentucky participating but it could fit anywhere."
R&G: You’ve also worked hard to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). As a mother whose child spent his first 324 consecutive days of life in the NICU and as a mother of a child who has had 13 operations, I know firsthand how crucial this work is.
Alex: "Part of the reason I love the role I get to serve in with CMN is because I used to be heavily involved in Dance Blue -a 24 hour, no sitting or sleeping, dance marathon that the University of Ky puts on to raise money for pediatric cancer. There’s even a Dance Blue hematology/oncology clinic in Kentucky Children’s Hospital that I was very involved for about six years in high school and college. One of my closest cousins had two brain tumors when she was five. That was the first time I came to understand what childhood cancer was and how unfair it was."
R&G: Your love for others is evident, Alex. How do you stay so rooted and grounded?
Alex: "I am so honored to get to be Miss Kentucky but I know I wouldn’t be here by any stretch of the imagination if God didn’t want me to use it to serve him. All I try to do as Miss Kentucky is be a vessel, a vehicle, and a channel for God’s love to reach people - people who otherwise would never step foot in a church or for people who go to church every week but who maybe don’t understand what it looks like to have a relationship. I consider it a privilege to be invited into their conversations and to be a special guest at events because I get to be a living breathing example of what it looks like to be loved by the father and I have to stay rooted and grounded to be able to do that because this is so not about me. There’s this tendency to think, “Oh you’re Miss Kentucky. You’re amazing; you’re awesome,” but I’m so human and I fail every day. I always find short comings in myself and it is by grace that I’m able to do my job – which is the coolest job I think I’ll ever have because it truly is kingdom work and I’m really honored. I try to stay rooted and grounded, (which I love by the way - it’s such a great phrase and a great namesake for you guys) because everything kind of depends on it. Every day could be the most important day that you get to reach someone."
R&G: As you know, our slogan and our mission is to spread awareness that words matter. When you hear that slogan, what comes to your mind?
Alex: "One of the things I get to talk about during my school presentation is always being cognizant of the impact you can have on another person for better or for worse. You never know how the things you say or do are going to change someone’s life for better or for worse and I try to remind students that it’s so important to be intentional about the words that you use when you’re talking about others or talking to yourself – to be intentional about the way you treat other people because you never know how someone is going to take something or what they’re going through. Everybody is fighting their own battle and the majority of the people I talk to will never let me know anything about the battles that they’re fighting. I have to be super intentional about the words that I use because absolutely, words do matter. There are things I try to remind my middle schoolers of because there are things people have said to me in middle school that have stuck with me for the rest of my life. Maybe positive things; maybe negative things – things people have said to me throughout my life – maybe in high school, maybe in college, about the person I am or my performance – all kinds of things. There are always going to be those words that just stick with you and play over and over again in your head and I think it’s so important to remind people especially in this digital age where we can just fire away a million words a minute that we need to be so intentional."
R&G: Growing up in a performing arts background, you are a woman of many talents – modeling, dancing, singing, etc. What do you sing and how can we listen?
Alex: "I pretty much sing the national anthem once a week. I have a few videos up on IGTV of some of the songs I’ve done."
R&G: In a previous interview, you mentioned how you struggled with your self-image as a young person – how you struggled with feeling like you always had to be perfect. Most people wouldn’t look at you and know that. What would you say to the young girl who feels no one even notices her or that she’s not good enough?
Alex: "I think it goes back to what I said earlier - that you never know the battles that somebody else is fighting. Just because they carry it well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy. I really struggled. I actually had an eating disorder in high school and a little bit of middle school a little because of the environment I was it. It wasn’t healthy for me to be around and I feel like I was never good enough. I think we as women are always going to have a moment where we feel like we’re not enough in some way shape or form whether it’s that we’re not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough, not stay at home mom enough or not CEO enough, you know? There is always going to be something where we feel we fall short of. I have found a lot of comfort in knowing that my identity, my beauty, and my self-worth actually have nothing to do with what other people think of me or even what I think of me. There’s a lot of power in being able to say it’s not about my opinion or anybody else’s but God’s opinion and that we are created perfectly in his image. That’s something I have to remind myself of a lot."
R&G: As your time as Miss Kentucky winds down, what are your goals beyond the crown?
Alex: "I’d love to be an entrepreneur that ends up on Shark Tank one day. That seems fantastic! I am so creative and I consider ideation and innovation some of my biggest strengths. I’d love to invent the next Pop Socket or Scrub Daddy – who knows what it is. I am a business woman at heart and that’s kind of in my blood; it’s something everyone in my family has done for generations. I would love to either run my own company, carry on my family’s business or be an executive in someone else’s company but I want to somehow end up working in the business sector."
R&G: How has being Miss Kentucky changed you?
Alex: "It has done a lot of things for my heart that I never could’ve foreseen - for better and for worse. There’s been a lot of challenges I never thought I would have - things that I never thought I would have to struggle with like being lonely from being on the road all the time, not being able to have a regular set schedule – little things like that have really challenged me to be more intentional with my time and my relationships. Miss Kentucky has been the biggest blessing because it has given me such a wonderful stage to do kingdom work. It is so incredible to see an audience so captivated just because I have a sparkly hat and a sash. They’re willing to listen to anything I have to say to them – which can be a lot of pressure knowing that their little ears are hanging on to every word that I say but it’s an incredible opportunity to remind kids just how much God loves them - whether by directly saying it or just indirectly sharing love and being present and making people feel seen. It’s just been such a blessing to love people in this way."
As she continues her time as Miss Kentucky and in every venture that lies beyond it, we have no doubt that Alex Francke will continue to inspire, encourage and equip others to be the positive change we all wish to see in this world. Thank you, Alex, for representing the great state of Kentucky with such beauty, poise, and love.
About the author: Callie Daruk is an award-winning author and speaker who encourages others to seek Christ with their whole heart. Her new book, What Does God Want You to do Before You Die releases October 2020 with Crosslink Publishing. Callie is also the founder and co-owner of Rooted & Grounded, LLC and serves as the Chapter President of Word Weavers Robertson County. Her writing has appeared in Focus on the Family, Kids Clubhouse, The Upper Room, Charisma, Just 18 Summers, and Nashville Christian Voice magazines. Callie is represented by literary agent Cyle Young. Connect with her on social media @calliedaruk and www.calliedaruk.com
Photo credit: Alex Francke/Facebook