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Substance behind the smile

New Miss Philadelphia hopes to use her platform to serve the city.

A Princeton graduate, Kimberly Rogers, 23, says the city's troubles inspire her to work hard.
A Princeton graduate, Kimberly Rogers, 23, says the city's troubles inspire her to work hard.Read more

As the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia, Kimberly Rogers smiled easily for the camera yesterday in a hotel suite fragrant with congratulatory bouquets.

It was not, however, a proud morning for the city she will spend the next year representing. Since Rogers' pageant win Saturday night on the stage of Drexel University's Mandell Theatre, three more lives had been lost to homicide, boosting the city's death count to more than 100.

It was a development the 23-year-old resident of Richboro did not attempt to sugarcoat or dodge. Rogers said she considered Philadelphia's murder milestone "an exciting challenge" that is "pertinent" to her platform: preventing and eliminating depression among young people.

The city's homicide rate "gives me the inspiration to work harder and make a difference," said Rogers, a pharmaceutical marketing consultant for TargetRx in Horsham.

Why does she think addressing depression would help?

"There are many children out there that just don't express their feelings," said Rogers, a graduate of Princeton University, where she majored in molecular biology. Leaving dire feelings unaddressed, she said, "leads to crime."

In her role as Miss Philadelphia, Rogers said she would meet soon with Mayor Street, and she intends to "tell him I'm committed to serving the city and making the biggest positive impact I can." She will also have the opportunity to speak to community groups and schools.

She'll also be trying to pick up other crowns. As a Miss Philadelphia winner - the 86th - Rogers qualifies to compete for the Miss Pennsylvania title in June and then, if successful, for the tiara of all tiaras, the Miss America title in January. Miss Philadelphias have taken that prize three times, boasted Kevin McAleese, executive director of the Philadelphia pageant.

With her win out of a field of 16 contestants, Rogers is entitled to a $10,000 scholarship for a master's degree if she wants to pursue one. Drexel will double the amount if she pursues the degree there. Rogers said she would like to get a master's in business administration, but she has no definitive plans beyond her reign as Miss Philadelphia - a title that can go to any young woman from Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery Counties.

Rogers does have a Philadelphia connection: Her mother, Miriam, was born in Olney.