Teresa Scanlan made history Saturday night in what was an evening full of firsts in the Miss America Pageant’s 90 years. At the age of 17, Scanlan is the youngest (since they enacted age limits in 1938) and the first from the Cornhusker state of Nebraska to win the crown. As Miss America 2011, Scanlan will travel approximately 20,000 miles each month as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and to promote her platform of Eating Disorders: A Generation at Risk. She was inspired to take up the cause by a friend who is struggling with bulimia.
Scanlan, who turns 18 next month, is deferring her enrollment at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. But her aspirations to study law and become a politician are stronger than ever. As she told the Associated Press, Scanlan is going into politics so she can “stand up for what’s right, stand up for integrity and honesty.
“At this point, attorneys and politicians are looked down on and have terrible reputations for being greedy and power hungry and I really think it’s important for people who have their heart and mind in the right place get into those powerful positions,” she said.
The recent high school grad beat out 52 other young women for the ultimate prize at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, taking home a $50,000 scholarship sponsored by Artistry exclusively by Amway to continue her education.
First runner-up honors went to Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady whose talent performance was Vocal-Ventriloquism to “I want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Eady earned a $25,000 scholarship while Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier was awarded $20,000 as second runner-up.
America had their say in another pageant first by voting online and via text message for their favorite contestants in the days leading up to the pageant. Miss New York Claire Buffie and Miss Delaware Kayla Martell won ABC’s America’s choice, both making headlines for the causes they represent. Buffie was the first contestant to ever run on a gay rights platform, and Martell hopes to raise awareness about alopecia areata, a disease that caused her to start losing her hair at the age of 13.
The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, making more than $45 million available last year alone. Want to see who won over the judges? Here’s Teresa Scanlan in her first press conference as Miss America 2011: