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Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, who’s not just pretty, but pretty smart, epitomizes why the Miss America Pageant has value for young women. She was in Washington D.C. recently spreading the message of the Miss America Organization’s advocacy for higher education for all women.  Turns out The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships to women, $45 million every year (yes, you read that right).  Teresa explains why the Miss America pageant has been so important to her in her op-ed which appeared in The Hill.


Young though she may be, 17 when she won this past January, she is wise beyond her years. Following a meeting with the Nebraska (her home state) delegation on Capitol Hill, Teresa had a substantive discussion with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, did an interview with The Hill newspaper, and then met with Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) who is the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

She rounded out the Congressional visits by attending the Congressional Correspondents Dinner, which honors journalists who cover Capitol Hill, where she was the guest of The Hill newspaper. Seated with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), she received a round of applause after a shout out from the podium.

She spoke with Jenny Yeager Kaplan, Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, about the historical significance of the Miss America Organization as the largest provider of college scholarships and Miss America’s advocacy to encourage all young women to pursue college education, specifically those interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Tuesday, Miss America took her message directly to the children in a visit with students from Washington’s Martin Luther King Elementary School. As Teresa concluded her events on Capitol Hill, she emphasized that the Miss America Organization is eager to work with Congress and the Obama Administration to help promote education initiatives nationally. Teresa believes that being Miss America means being a role model to young women across America, and advancing affordable and high-quality education for young women is a priority for her.

Nothing like a little press when you’ve been working really hard to get the word out to make you feel like a million bucks.  Today in my Miss America Google alerts, this article about me popped up.  Wowsa!

About three weeks ago I had been interviewed by Bonnie Adler, a feature reporter for the Westport Minuteman here in Connecticut about my journey to write Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas.  I had begun to despair that I would see it, given that she had been so enthusastic about my story and had said that it would probably be in the paper that very week.   Oh ye of little faith…

So I proved to myself once again, that patience is a virtue.  And I have to remind myself that it isn’t about me.  People with the best of intentions will sometimes not  do what they say they will do.  And though it may feel like a personal rejection, that is the farthest notion from those folks’ minds.

About four weeks ago, I sent out fourteen press releases and last week was the first time my seeds started to bear fruit.  The one other article that has been published so far I had written for those papers to publish.  For this article Bonnie interviewed me and wrote it herself. 

I remind myself everyday I have to keep taking steps forward even if it may seem for that moment that I’m on a treadmill and not making any headway.  Sooner or later, as long as I keep stepping, I’ll find myself in a different place.  And where ever I end up, the adventure is always worth it.  Now that’s pretty smart!

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Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas ""

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