Ashley is the poster girl for poised – she is talented, warm, smart, funny, outgoing and pretty. She rolled into our studio with fabulous outfits and of course, her crown. I fell in love with that crown (we should all have one in our wardrobes) and with Ashley – how could we not? Scroll down to learn all about her and about the upcoming Miss Pennsylvania pageant at the end of the month.
Good Luck Ashley!
The first information given to judges about a contestant is contained in a fact sheet. It contains a brief snapshot at the type of activities you enjoy, the highlights of your life, and other tidbits about you. They know that my full name is Ashley Rebekah Duespohl, and I am competing for the title of Miss Pennsylvania because I am the current Miss Mercer County. They know that I currently reside in Pittsburgh where I attend school at Duquesne University as a senior Biology major. They then move on to read about my many achievements in scholastics, music, and dance, as well as my goal to pursue a career in medicine. Or they can read about my two puppies who love to sing along when I play piano, or how I refuse to eat chicken, peaches, or cottage cheese.
But what the fact sheet cannot tell the panel is that I did not start competing in the Miss America Organization’s pageants until high school, beginning with the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen local in Butler my sophomore year of high school. One of the greatest benefits of the pageants at that age was the amount of public speaking and interview practice that would be nearly impossible to have otherwise. The ability to speak one’s mind in front of an audience of hundreds as well as a panel of judges is something that very few public speaking courses could offer. And the interview experience in front of a panel that can ask nearly anything within reason prepares that contestant, and prepared myself, to have a competitive edge in interviews in the job market. The comfort and ease at which I can now walk into job interviews with is incredible, and I cannot give credit for that to anything other than my pageant experiences.
Along with all of the amazing experience that pageantry offers, it also lends itself to the humorous or embarrassing stories. One of the facets of competing in the pageant world is learning and experiencing the wonder that is, for lack of a better term, known as “butt glue.” There are so many varieties that different contestants prefer, from the roll-on body glue to super glue, most of which should never touch skin. My personal preference is the 3M Multipurpose Adhesive, which clearly states on the label to avoid any skin contact. During the week we rehearse many times in full dress and make-up, which includes spraying on the glue to hold a swimsuit in place. This glue is fabulous because when you spray it on Tuesday morning for rehearsal, your swimsuit still stays in place for the competition Saturday night without a re-application! Fabulous! Right? It would seem that way, until you put on your Span (another wonderful invention by the way) then they stick to you just as well as your swimsuit did. Then when you finally peel those back off, the sweat pants that you put on to relax and go to bed, Yup! Those will be stuck too. It is one of those embarrassing and slightly awkward stories to explain because you think that if you spray the glue on, you would know how to get it back off. That is not always the case, and it especially is not mine, and two years later after first falling in love with how well it holds, I am left to question why even Goo-Gone does not remove it.
I think the greatest part of competing in the pageants is how many great friends that I have made throughout my years of competing. I have met girls who live throughout the state who are some of my best friends. This also has to be my favorite aspect of the competition because as cheesy and sappy as it sounds, win or lose, no matter what you have your friends to talk about the day with afterward. The bond that you form with each other backstage during the pageant is unbelievable, and anyone who becomes involved even if only competing in one pageant will form lasting friendships with everyone there.
In order to compete girls should know that the directors are there to help. If interested in competing, they can go to the Miss Pennsylvania website (www.MissPA.org) and find a local pageant that interests them, or that is close to their home. Most of the local’s have their own websites, and the director’s e-mails are also available on the website. The local executive directors are willing to help and give any information and advice necessary to those interested in competing.
This year, the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant is being held in Pittsburgh at the Syria Mosque on June 24, 25 & 27th. For more information: http://www.misspa.org/tickets.htm