Miss America: Grandparents Fled Communism

By Woody Jenkins, Liberty Today.

LAS VEGAS— A 17-year-old Nebraska girl has been crowned Miss America — the youngest Miss America in 90 years.

Teresa Scanlan, Miss Nebraska, only recently graduated from high school. She is a Christian who was homeschooled until mid-way her junior year in high school.

Poised and well-spoken, Miss Scanlan apparently had a tall order to convince the judges that a 17-year-old could handle the job. But in an interview after the final night of the pageant, judges said she more than proved herself.

The new Miss America is the middle child of seven children in her family. She and her parents live in Gering, Nebraska (pop. 8,000).

Her talent was playing the piano, and her special project for the year will be fighting teenage eating disorders.

The youthful beauty said she is proof girls don’t have to resort to dangerous practices such as anorexia or bulimia. “I never passed up a cookie on my way here!” she said. But she does follow a committed exercise program.

Miss America thanked her parents and siblings, teachers, friends, and the people of her hometown and state. “I couldn’t have made it here without the help of countless people,” she said.

She is the first-ever Miss America from Nebraska.

She told judges she plans to take a year off from school and will enter Patrick Henry College in Virginia when her reign is over. “I want to study law and become an attorney and then a judge.” Her ambitions are high. “I would like to serve as President or on the Supreme Court,” she said.

The new role model for young women refused to state a political party preference and said she plans to register to vote as an independent. She said she is interested in issues, rather than parties.

However, in a blog as Miss Nebraska, she wrote, “A couple weeks ago, I attended a Common Sense and the Constitution seminar in Hastings by speaker Glenn Freeman. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, make sure you go! He is absolutely amazing, and really brought it back to basics with the foundation of our country: The Constitution. Frustrated with our current state of affairs? It’s because we have wandered away from the Constitution. If you haven’t done so recently, read through it, and carefully examine it. It’s pretty incredible some of the things you find!”

The new Miss America’s family came to this country seeking freedom only a few decades ago. She said, “My grandparents grew up in the former Yugoslavia, now Croatia. They escaped during the Communist takeover when Tito was in power and made it to Italy where they lived in refugee camps for two years before coming to America. When they came, they wanted a better life. They had children including my mother. When my mother and father got married, they were pretty poor, as he paid his way through medical school. He wanted to give us a life that he never had. He wanted to give us opportunities. It was only through their generations of hard work that I am where I am today. So I couldn’t let them down. I have been blessed so incredibly, and I do what I can to embrace that, and I think all of us should as Americans.”

Miss Scanlan was deeply affected in many ways by her homeschooling experience. One way was in building a desire for service to others. She said, “Community service and volunteerism have always been a tremendous part of our family. Being homeschooled, I had a lot more time to do those things. So I started getting involved in all sorts of programs in community with volunteering and community service. It changes everything. You meet young children, the elderly, war veterans, so many people who change your life. We have to give back and volunteer for causes that need our help.”

The new Miss America is a Christian who said she was pleased that so many other contestants in the pageant take their faith seriously. “We knew that whatever happened in the pageant would be in God’s plan,” she said.

Building a new identity as a contestant wasn’t something Miss Scanlan had in mind. She said, “I am defined by what God has created me to be. Pageant coaches say you have to know who you are, what your purpose is, and where you stand on issues. But that’s already taken care of for me. So I don’t have to do it! I’m so happy that so many of the girls have such a strong faith. That shows the purpose and substance for what we are doing!”

Miss America emphasized that this would be a year of service for her and that she looks forward to traveling America and representing the American people.

She has a long list of media appearances scheduled, including the Superbowl. She has already appeared on Fox & Friends, The View, and many others.

One of the things she said she will have to get used to is wearing makeup. “I didn’t wear makeup until the last couple of years,” she said. One of her sponsors is Artistry cosmetics from the Amway Corporation.

Miss Scanlan said she had no idea she would win the Miss America pageant, much less at the age of 17. The maximum age to compete is 24, and all competitors have to be single.

“So my dad felt pretty comfortable that I wouldn’t get married until I was at least 25,” she said.

“Now he has to be worried!” she said.

Does she have a boyfriend back home? “No! 17-year-old boys? Enough said!” she laughed.

As Miss Nebraska, Teresa posted the following on her blog:

“That night I won the title of Miss Nebraska I knew that this is exactly where God wants me to be, and He has a plan for each and every day of my life, not only this year, but every year. How incredibly calming it is to know that my life is in His hands! My prayer continues to be simply that I will fulfill His purpose in everything that I do. If you had not previously known my reasons and purpose behind why I do what I do, I hope you now understand what I believe my calling to be. Why am I competing in the Miss America competition? Because God has placed me in this position to show His love!”

To visit her blog, go to


By Woody Jenkins as published in March 2011 issue of Liberty Today.

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