Miss America Wows the Nation’s Capital

Miss America 2011 with her fellow pageant state-title holders at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. | Patrick G. Ryan

“First, to become president and then a Supreme Court justice,” said Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, of her high goals at a Capitol Hill Club reception, March 29. And you believe her.

Miss America brought her campaign to the nation’s capital this week, joined by her cabinet of 16 other state title-holders from the Miss America Pageant, where Scanlan was crowned Jan. 15 in Las Vegas at the age of 17. During the Cherry Blossom Festival, her tour expanded to include fellow contestants who have formed a powerful sisterhood and made the scene from the halls of the U.S. Congress, to a Potomac River cruise and restaurants around town.

At the Miss D.C. Scholarship Organization fundraiser, hosted by Lisa and Charlie Spies in the GOP gathering place, two blocks from the Capitol building, a former Miss D.C. Sonya Gavankar of the Newseum and Miss D.C. 2011 Stephanie Williams introduced the “astounding, accomplished women,” who are easy on the eyes as well as easy to speak with. Former Misses D.C. Jen Corey and Kate Michael were also there.

Miss Oklahoma Emoly West said it was “great getting to meet more people around D.C.” Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley found it was “awe-inspiring” to be on the floor of the House and Senate. Miss Florida Jaclyn Raulerson loved the tour of the U.S. Capitol and walking through the Rotunda, after the women had lunched there.
But it was the now 18-year-old Miss America from Gering, Nebraska, who was the star of the show.

Homeschooled until her junior year at Scottsbluff High School, Scanlan has enrolled at Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian school in Purcellville, Va., less than 40 miles from D.C. “I will be staying around and do internships,” she said, as she posed with and easily charmed everyone — future voters, no doubt — who wanted to say hello.

While the other 16 women were down at the Tidal Basin that afternoon, admiring the cherry blossoms and posing for pictures, the mature-for-her-age Scanlan was three blocks north at the White House Council on Women and Girls, a federal watchdog in matters of public policy, especially equal pay, family leave and child care. The presidential board relates to her Miss America Platform on eating disorders, which was prompted by one of her best friend’s bulimia. “It is also important to be encouraging women in science,” Scanlan said of the education campaign. (In October, she will be meeting the man himself, President Obama.)

Other places and events felt the Miss America magic: a gala at the Kennedy Center, the Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner and the Embassy of Croatia (her maternal grandparents are from there). At a lunch at Cafe Milano, Franco Nuschese presented her with Ann Hand’s Liberty Eagle pin, made famous by such wearers as Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, both Secretaries of State. All well and good, but, as you know, Scanlan is aiming for the White House. And those who know her well, especially in Nebraska, fully expect her to get there.

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