Queen of Hearts

 

Written by Lindsay Whelchel in the August 2009 Issue
Model, missionary, mother and reigning Mrs. Oklahoma; say any of these and you’re describing Heather Rouba. You’re also describing a woman with boundless energy, a passion for volunteer service and – for a woman just crowned as the most beautiful wife and mom in the state – an outstandingly grounded personality.

The 29-year-old Edmond resident is skillfully balancing her role as the newly crowned Mrs. Oklahoma with her vital role as a mom, all while making a big difference in the lives of others.

Though an Oklahoma native, Rouba’s story really starts in California. Fresh out of high school with some modeling experience under her belt, she changed course completely, left Oklahoma, and spent a year and a half as a missionary with immigrant families in California. There she learned about selflessness.

After returning to her home state, Rouba attended UCO on a Presidential Leadership Scholarship and graduated in 2003 with a degree in Interior Design and Art History.

At UCO Rouba met her husband, Yury, a native of Eastern Europe’s Belarus. “I think it took about three months of him asking me out everyday before I realized I had feelings for him and really liked him,” Rouba laughs. They married in 2006.

Shortly after her daughter was born, she says, “I was walking around Target one day and I just thought, ‘I’m a mom,’ and it just gave me so much confidence in myself – and that’s been really advantageous – my confidence about who I am and my purpose in life. To have that role and help create life, you just can’t explain it.”

It was then that Rouba decided to be a stay-at-home mom. The move was a huge transition. “I’m the type of person that likes to be around people. Being at home all of the time was really hard for me. I wanted to get out and do volunteer work,” Rouba says. She got her feet wet with various organizations such as the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and wanted to do more but met with dead ends. “Doors weren’t opening like I wanted them to,” says Rouba.
When a family friend first suggested Rouba compete in the Mrs. Oklahoma Pageant, she immediately said no. “I didn’t feel qualified,” says Rouba, who was also concerned with the superficial stigma of a pageant. After some thought and research, Rouba came to a realization: “Titles open doors for service.”

Rouba learned a lot from her pageant experience. “I really did a lot of self-analysis. With my platform being strengthening marriage and family, I learned about being a child of divorce. I kind of found myself in a lot of ways,” says Rouba – a daughter of divorced parents herself.

She was crowned Mrs. Oklahoma in April and says she was surprised and humbled by the achievement. “I really feel like a pageant shapes a woman. I never had that idea before, but it really helped me develop
as a person.”

She’s now involved with an organization called Calm Waters Center for Children and Families. “We provide free support for children and families after a death, divorce or other major loss,” says Director of Development, Lisa Kibblewhite. “Divorce is a significant social issue that our community is facing.” She says that the organization helps over 2,500 people a year and explains that Rouba is trained in the program’s curriculum and helps facilitate support groups.
She also incorporates her experience with interior design to work with Habitat for Humanity helping families pick finishes for their homes. She pours the remainder of her energy into the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.

Rouba says that with all of her work since winning the pageant, her family has been required to do more. “I sometimes feel guilty that I’ve added to the strain,” she says but adds that her husband is “incredibly supportive.” She says she constantly has to evaluate her priorities. “I think that’s really the question we all have in life – how to find a balance. It’s kind of our quest and it’s very tough.”

Given her interest in strong families, it’s no surprise that Rouba refuses to compromise hers – even in her search to serve others. Rouba makes sure she takes the time to read to her daughter, take walks with her and talk to her. “Spending that time with her is really valuable,” she says. Rouba also holds the same philosophy for her marriage. She and her husband make time for a date night each week.

Rouba sums everything up by saying that she feels better when serving other people and has learned that of all of her roles, nothing compares to being a mother. “You give and give and give and then you give more, and you think you don’t have anything else and yet you’re still able to go. I feel like – for me – the ultimate service is
having a child.”
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