Though Teresa Scanlan wore the 2011 Miss America crown, she remains a down-to-earth young college student that is currently enjoying her sophomore year at the tiny, conservative, Patrick Henry College. According to a USA Today article dated Saturday, September 7, she knows all too well about the stereotypes that exist from attending such a college....and she's not a fan of those assumptions either.
She mentioned a recent photo essay out there about the school, and felt it was way out of line on how students are portrayed. She emphasized that while the students are Christian, they come from a variety of backgrounds.
"There's this idea that we don't struggle with the same problems, that we don't understand real world problems ... that everyone comes from wonderful, happy families, that we're close-minded and brainwashed. That kind of pushes my buttons," she said.
The criticism and assumptions that have been made by those who don't even know her have definitely hurt her at times. She dished that her reign as Miss America and the overall expectations wore on her. The harsh words from anonymous internet critics didn't help either.
"To have someone look at a picture of you and decide just based on that picture that they hate you, and that they're going to tell the world that they hate you — that takes some getting used to," she said.
As a respectable role model who met and exceeded her role as Miss America, Scanlan feels at home at her chosen college. Though the school requires students to dress modestly and "seek parental counsel when pursuing a romantic relationship," Scanlan is content with Patrick Henry....in fact, the former home-schooled student has wanted to go there since she was 8.
"The school was established in 2000 with the goal of giving home-schooled Christian conservatives a foundation to help them effect change in government, the law and journalism," says USA Today.
Patrick Henry began with only 90 students and a single major in Government. The tiny school which is located in the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C. has now grown to 320 student and five majors. The school is held in high regard academically, and the students enter with impressive SAT scores that compare with other top-notch universities.
As one might have guessed, Scanlan has faced scrutiny with her critics suggesting that wearing a swimsuit on stage doesn't match with her strict upbringing.
"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," she defended.
The school's founder and Scanlan's roommate both spoke about her in very high regard.
Scanlan particularly enjoys the fact that she can blend in there, and be completely accepted for the average girl she is.
"I've never had to sign an autograph, and I've never had to take a picture. Here, I can be just another student," she said.
At just 17, Scanlan was the youngest Miss America ever crowned. It appears that the driven Nebraska native is just getting started.