It’s a startling contrast to some observers – the glamorous, bikini-clad Miss America from 2011, Teresa Scanlan, finding her home at the tiny, super-conservative Patrick Henry College. The school in Purcellville, Va., requires students to dress modestly and “seek parental counsel when pursuing a romantic relationship.”
But the match has been a good one. Scanlan returned to campus in late August to begin her sophomore year. Among the things she loves about her classmates and her campus: “I’ve never had to sign an autograph, and I’ve never had to take a picture. Here, I can be just another student.”
Blending in is not always easy for Scanlan, who won the Miss America Contest at 17, representing Nebraska. The youngest Miss America in more than 70 years, she spent a year fulfilling her duties and enrolled at Patrick Henry in 2012. The school was established in 2000 with the goal of giving home-schooled Christian conservatives a foundation to help them effect change in government, law and journalism.
During her year as Miss America, she began to feel depressed and, at times, even suicidal. The depression continued during her freshman year, she said, when she found her coursework grueling.
She reached out to her parents for help during her spring semester, and she’s now taking fewer classes and worrying less about others’ expectations.
“I’m finally starting to let go of some of the stress, some of the responsibility,” she said.
While she loves her school, she said she has occasionally received criticism from some there who feel the Miss America pageant, particularly the swimsuit competition, is not compatible with a Christian lifestyle because it shows too much skin or objectifies women. Scanlan respectfully disagrees.
“I have never violated my conscience. I was never compromising my morals,” she said. “For myself, I have never believed it’s wrong for a female to wear a swimsuit that would show the same amount of skin as a man. It’s a bit of a double standard.”
The birthday bunch
Comedian Sid Caesar is 91. Singer Aimee Mann is 53. Singer Neko Case is 43. Actor David Arquette is 42. Actor Martin Freeman is 42. Singer Pink is 34. Actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas (“Home Improvement”) is 32.