The Girl Who Would Be President


          It wasn’t easy to find an uplifting item to comment on to start off this New Year, given the stories that have made the headlines in recent weeks. So here we are, three weeks into 2011, and I’ve finally found something—or rather, someone—worth commenting upon that should make parents everywhere breathe a sigh of relief that there are positive role models for their kids.
          Her name is Teresa Scanlan, and she is the newly-crowned Miss America. She’s just 17 years old—one of the youngest Miss Americas since the pageant began in 1921. She’s been out of high school less than one year, and already she’s making her mark in the world. I wouldn’t normally care one way or the other about who Miss America is, but when I read about her and saw an interview with her, I wanted to learn more. What I learned is that she is an unabashed conservative and devout Christian who’s planning to study public policy and law when she gets to college. Not many teenagers these days would, in a public forum, talk about being a conservative or their love for Jesus Christ, or be able to comment with confidence about national security issues.
          Last week in Las Vegas, Miss Scanlan, representing Nebraska, showed that she has the poise and presence to be, not just Miss America, but (she hopes) one day, the President of the United States or a Supreme Court Justice. She got the audience, and at least most of the judges on her side with her poise, talent (she plays the piano) and her articulate commentary on the Wikileaks situation. She told the audience, “When it came to that situation it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people’s right to know, because it’s so important that everybody who’s in our borders is safe and so we can’t let things like that happen and they must be handled properly.”
          Not bad for a small town girl. Miss Scanlan was homeschooled through her junior year of high school, and then she graduated from a local high school just last year. She became the youngest woman to wear the Miss Nebraska crown soon thereafter, where she has worked to promote her platform on eating disorders. This issue is personal to her because she had a close friend who struggled with bulimia. Given her new title and a nationwide platform, she is hoping to be an inspiration for other teens to make healthy choices for their lives and to achieve their goals.
          Miss Scanlan will be attending college in the fall. She was accepted to Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school in Virginia. Beyond college, her plans include going to law school because, according to her official Miss America bio, she wants to “break down the stereotype of crooked and dishonest politicians, operating instead under character and integrity.”
          She sees pageants as a good foundation to build a career in public life upon, and she may be right. After all, other savvy conservative women started out that way. Sarah Palin was Miss Wasilla and came in 3rd in the Miss Alaska pageant in 1984, and Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN) was in the top ten of the Miss Anoka pageant and was awarded the Miss Congeniality title.
          For Miss Scanlan, being involved in pageants, and ultimately winning Miss America, is about more than dressing up, being in front of a camera or having her moment of fame. She told Robin Leach right after the pageant that she really had not expected to win on her first time around. She planned to compete until she was 24 (the maximum age for contestants). But because she did win, she knows it was in God’s plan for her life. She said, “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my Lord and Savior, and wouldn’t be the person I am today…this year isn’t about me. It’s about Him and what He can do through me.”
          Somewhere in Gering, Nebraska there’s a mother and a father who must be bursting with pride (and gratefulness) right about now.

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan


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