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Two Penn State Students In Running For Miss Pennsylvania

Penn State students Bryn Patton and Finley Miller took part in the Miss Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Competition this past year, winning the titles of Miss MidState and Miss Greater Juniata Valley 2024, respectively. Now, moving on to the Miss Pennsylvania competition, they have the chance to represent the state for Miss America.

The Miss America Organization focuses on community service, philanthropy, providing scholarships, and giving back to the community.

Patton, from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, was crowned Miss MidState 2024 and is a senior studying corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. Miller, a freshman from Hanover, Pennsylvania, was crowned Miss Greater Juniata Valley and is studying elementary education with a minor in social justice in education.

Patton got involved in the organization when she was 15 in the teen program. While it provided college scholarships, it was also a chance for her to promote her community service initiative. Patton created “The Heart of the Matter,” which focuses on educating about the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and CPR and AEDs.

When she was 14, Patton’s dad suffered a heart attack, and learning from that experience, she didn’t want other families to go through it as well. Through her initiative, she hopes people better understand and can prepare for heart attacks and how to work through them.

Miller competed in her first pageant during her senior year of high school, won a title, and realized competing was something she wanted to continue doing. She reached out to someone involved in Miss America and quickly wanted to join, already having her community service initiative in mind.

Miller created “Essential Project” going into her senior year of high school, which promotes female health and empowerment. She gives back to local women and community shelters while giving talks on mental health and spreading positivity and kindness. Coming from a family where it was important to talk about feelings, she realized that isn’t the status quo for many other people.

“I wanted to let people know that it’s OK to talk and open up. Especially, I feel like periods and menstruation are very taboo topics, but it’s so normal,” Miller said. “So just kind of opening up that conversation and making sure people feel comfortable talking about two very uncomfortable topics and bringing those together so we can build more strong, powerful women which is something that the Miss American organization is such a big part of.”

Patton and Miller will travel to compete for Miss Pennsylvania this summer beginning on June 13, and Miss Pennsylvania will be crowned on June 15. Throughout the competition, there are four phases: private interview, fitness, talent, and evening wear.

Of course, there is a lot of preparation that goes into competition, including wardrobes and putting everything together, but they also invest lots of time making sure they’re prepared for interviews, ready to share everything they want to, focusing on who they are, what they want to promote, and why they love the Miss America organization.

While some may think of Miss America as a one-night event, it’s much more than that. It’s based on four pillars of scholarship, style, service, and success.

“Most of the girls competing are either actively in school or they’re pursuing a further or higher degree,” Patton said. “So whenever you win one of these competitions, you get money back to be able to support your education. It’s shifted far away from the beauty pageant standard of what people might think the Miss America organization is and it’s all about — kind of just being able to empower one another and allow these women to have the opportunities to continue.”

The current Miss Pennsylvania is an environmental engineer and sustainability professional, which Miller and Patton shared as a testament that it’s “more than just a pretty face.” Instead, it’s about who you are, what you’ve done, and what you can bring.

Recently, Miss America collaborated with brands and nonprofits like the American Heart Association by helping advocate for awareness and promoting the message of the nonprofit, and all candidates will wear red during the fitness competition in honor of the group.

Miller and Patton received their titles on February 17, over THON Weekend, running back to stand with their sororities over the 46 hours when they had time off. Being students at Penn State not only helped them find each other in the program but gave them ample resources and outreach for their service initiatives.

Miller is in the College of Education and has received help and support from her advisors and professors. She is working to set up a drive within the college for feminine products and has been presented with countless support from the college — even receiving a shoutout from her professor in the first class after she was crowned.

“Being at a university that has so many resources, and already does so much to give back, it’s very empowering to see. And kind of taking those ideas and bouncing off of what I’m already around to be able to use that for my own community service has been great,” Miller said.

Patton echoed the thoughts of the Penn State community being supportive. She’s working with her college, the Smeal College of Business, but has felt that everyone she’s encountered who has been involved with Penn State has been welcoming and helpful.

“I’m working with my college to promote the organization and my community service initiative. And then just really like any group that I’m involved in here at Penn State, working with them to see the opportunities there as well for further opportunities,” Patton said.

Miller and Patton are in an interesting position as two of the only women that attend a large university full time, balancing heavy involvement in the organization and student life at Penn State, helping them to push the pillar of scholarship.

After the Miss Pennsylvania scholarship competition in June, both intend to stay a part of the organization as long as they can.

Miller shared that she gained idols to look up to as one of the younger girls in the competition, learning so much from the other girls and their initiatives.

“Having a lot more years to compete, I plan to use them all and hopefully someday be crowned Miss Pennsylvania, but you never know,” Miller said. “I think it’s just a great opportunity to learn more about how to give back and to know that you are bigger than just yourself and that you can make such an impact, and this is such a great platform to be able to do that and to really support something that’s important to you.”

For Patton, she credits the organization for making her who she is today. As a young girl, she was very quiet and never wanted her photo taken as she would hide behind her mom.

“Through this program and making all the connections that I have throughout the years, it’s really changed me as a person and really made me better as a person,” Patton said. “It’s given me an initiative to promote, to do good for society, and it’s also given me a sisterhood.”

She thanks Miss America for what it’s done for her and the women around her, wanting to stay connected in any way possible once her years competing are done.

There are 20 women set to compete for Miss Pennsylvania this year with applications open for at-large candidates for both the Miss and Teen programs. Anyone interested in becoming a candidate for the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Competition can contact executive director Debbie Butcher.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a sophomore studying journalism from New Jersey. She is not okay about Saquon leaving the Giants and was crying on her couch all day. She can't look at all of her Saquon merch and doesn't know when she will recover. You can email [email protected] to send her ways to meet Saquon or watch her obsess over Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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