Jennifer Glose, Business Manager
Cedar Crest’s own graduate student, Alicia Rossman, 26, always dreamed of being in the Miss America pageant but never thought that it would be the vehicle that would drive her to write and publish her very first children’s book, one that even Michelle Obama would request a copy.
The Miss New Hampshire Teen America flyer came in the mail when she was in middle school, but her mother would not allow her to enter the competition. Her mother said she would have to wait until she was 18 years old to enter. Rossman patiently waited the years out, and at the age of eighteen, in 2006, she entered the Miss America Scholarship Program, competing for the title of Miss New Hampshire. It was the inner beauty requirements of the competition that attracted Rossman the most.
“Because of the Miss America pageant, I was able to make so many connections with places to volunteer,” she said.
Volunteering was always close to Rossman’s heart and became one of the key components of her being and purpose. She often helped at New Hampshire food banks and with Catholic community service organizations. Her time in the Miss America program brought her to a non-profit organization, Share Our Strength, whose mission is to try and end childhood hunger in America by helping kids to get the healthy food they need and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. This organization also has a program called Cooking Matters, where Rossman became a cooking instructor.
“This is where I found my passion in working with children,” she said.
Being in the community and helping others is what Rossman liked most about the Miss America Scholarship Program. According to its website, Miss America’s participants annually complete more than 12,000 community service projects, providing more than 500,000 service hours.
“I tried to tie everything that I was doing in Miss America to my future,” Rossman said. “If you’re going to volunteer, you might as well make it worth it. People think volunteering is a waste of time, but if it’s something that will help you in your career, and you have fun doing it, then why not.”
During her reign of competition in the Miss New Hampshire pageant, Rossman won a total of $40,000, which she used to pay for college. She never did get the grand prize of being named Miss New Hampshire, which comes with a $50,000 scholarship, but she did take away the grandest of prizes — in her eyes — a passion to write and publish her own children’s book.
After traveling throughout her home state of New Hampshire, from elementary school to elementary school, as part of her volunteering requirements for the pageant, Rossman read to children on a weekly basis. Her book of choice was typically a children’s book about nutrition, exercise, and volunteering. She was always interested in keeping in shape and eating right, as well as giving back to her community, so sharing these good habits with young children became her passion. As she was nearing the end of her career in the Miss New Hampshire pageant, in 2010, an idea came to her mind.
“I would spend hours in the library, trying to find nutrition books for kids, and there’s not very many of them out there. I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I just make my own book, instead of spending all of these hours in the library trying to find one,’ she said.
Rossman started on her plans for “Miss Lyla’s Banana Pancakes to the Rescue!” with the help of a gracious sponsor, whom she requested be kept anonymous. The sponsor took care of finding the illustrator, editor, and publisher, which would all be provided at no cost to Rossman. Rossman took her favorite recipe for whole wheat banana pancakes, which are sugar free and low in cholesterol, and incorporated it into her three main themes of the book, Get Healthy, Get Movin’, and Give Back.
Miss Lyla, the main character in the book, is a yoga teacher for kids. Rossman herself is a certified yoga instructor and has her own family yoga and nutrition business, called Let’s Get Movin’! She is partnered with her mother, Cheryl Rossman, who is also a certified yoga instructor.
Miss Lyla’s yoga class goes on many adventures. In this first book, the students go on an adventure to help raise money for the local firehouse to purchase a new Dalmatian puppy. The class decides to make home-made banana pancakes for a breakfast fundraiser in the community. The breakfast was a huge success, and the firehouse was able to purchase a new Dalmatian puppy, which the class names Star. The name came from a saying that Miss Lyla always instilled in the kids, which is to “reach for the stars, and dream big, and you can accomplish anything you want to.”
The book took two years to complete and was finally published in the winter of 2012. Rossman recently received an email from Michelle Obama, who wants her to send a copy to the White House. Rossman dedicated her first book to Michelle Obama, who has led a powerful campaign against childhood obesity.
“She has always been an inspiration to me,” Rossman said.
Rossman will be in Colorado over spring break, reading her new book to classrooms across the state. This summer, Rossman will be in California filming a series of yoga videos and cooking videos. To add to her credits, Rossman also has a cooking show, “Live Free & Cook,” which airs on a local public broadcasting station in New Hampshire.
Her whole purpose of writing and publishing this children’s book, was not to make money, but it was to be able to read the book to classrooms across the world. She is hoping to facilitate different fundraising efforts with her book, such as creating a book fund, to be able to use to buy a large quantity of the books to donate to schools.
In 2009, Rossman received her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional sciences at University of New Hampshire and is now a dietetic intern at Cedar Crest College. The program at Cedar Crest requires three graduate courses and 40 unpaid hours per week of clinical, food service, community, and community connection. Some of the places that Rossman goes for these rotations are nursing homes, school districts, hospitals, grocery stores, and the local health bureau. She will be done with her graduate program at Cedar Crest on May 4 of this year and will take an exam at the end of May, in hopes to become a registered dietician.
When asked what brought her to Cedar Crest, she said, “This program’s focus is in community nutrition, and my passion is being in the community doing things like this.”
“Miss Lyla’s Banana Pancakes to the Rescue!” is available for purchase on Rossman’s website, http://www.letsgetmovin.com and on the Barnes and Noble and Amazon websites, for $19.99.
On Rossman’s website, her cooking videos are available as well as her yoga schedules and camps for kids. She does teach yoga to adults and seniors, too, and these classes are listed on her site as well.
As Rossman continues to reach for the stars and dream big, just like Miss Lyla told her class, it is evident that she really can do anything that she wants to do.
*Join her every Thursday in Alumni Hall for yoga — students and faculty are FREE
*Don’t miss her next event with “Miss Lyla’s Banana Pancakes to the Rescue!”
Sunday, Feb. 24 — Story Time at Menchies — 1:00pm — 353 S. Cedar Crest Blvd.