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K-State Today

October 1, 2018

Autism does not define me

Submitted by Hannah Ens

Alexis Wineman, the first Miss America contestant to be on the autism spectrum, will present "Autism Does Not Define Me" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3 in the K-State Student Union Ballroom.

Before competing in Miss America 2012, Wineman rarely wore high heels and makeup. For her, the competition was an opportunity to challenge herself and prove wrong the naysayers who never thought the shy, quiet girl in a hoodie could actually compete on one of the biggest stages in America. As Miss Montana 2012, she represented not only her state but a community of 1 in 59 children in the United States who are diagnosed with autism. Her unique personal story as the first contestant diagnosed with autism and the third contestant with a disability since the competition’s inception in 1921 made global headlines, and she ultimately won the "America’s Choice" award in the Miss America 2012 competition.

Alexis still faces challenges but strongly believes that people, with autism or without, should never stop trying to improve themselves. Through the Miss America experience, she found her voice and has become a sought-after speaker who is dedicated to building acceptance and awareness about autism, and encouraging others to reach and aim high, because anything is possible.

This free event is sponsored by Union Program Council and the Student Access Center. For more information, visit kstateupc.com or call 785-532-6571.