January 15, 2011.
Like every year, I cozied up on my living room coach ready to watch that year’s Miss America Pageant on TV. The previous year had been huge – Miss Nebraska Brittany Jeffers had made the Top 10, something no Miss Nebraska had done in decades.
The 2011 telecast started… and I fell asleep. I was 8 months pregnant. Large and in charge and exhausted. I woke up a few hours later to about 30 text messages: “Miss Nebraska made the Top 15!” “Holy cow, Nebraska’s doing awesome!” “She won – MISS NEBRASKA IS MISS AMERICA!”
All photos courtesy Getty Images
Teresa Scanlan made history that night, becoming the first and only Nebraska representative to date to be crowned Miss America, and the youngest Miss America in more than 80 years. As she began a whirlwind year that would change her life and take her around the world, an 8-year old from Scanlan’s hometown of Gering decided she, too, wanted to be Miss America.
Fast forward 7 years.. and Hope McCoy is now Miss Old West Balloon Fest’s Outstanding Teen, crowned last summer at the same pageant Teresa Scanlan competed in. She’ll now compete for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen this April.
“My favorite part has been when I do appearances and I get to enjoy all the little kids saying ‘wow! There’s a real princess here!'” Hope told me recently. “It warms my heart every time.”
Sparked in part by Teresa’s success, western Nebraska titleholders hit the ground running with service the moment they are crowned. They volunteer at festivals, parades, fundraisers, fashion shows, and more, all promoting goodwill in their communities and their personal platforms of service. Hope wants to encourage children to read, and she has big plans for book drives and fundraisers throughout Mitchell and Gering.
She’s also spreading a message to those children, to her peers, and to others she visits.. to nurture friendships and relationships.
“The biggest issue facing our generation right now is communication, ” said Hope. “We can say one thing over text and the person on the other side of it could really misunderstand. We hardly talk or communicate like we should. What we can to prevent it is to put down our devices and talk face to face.”
Those connections are often what fuel and inspire us. The same day this photo was taken, when Hope won a crown at the same pageant where Teresa Scanlan started her journey.. she got to meet Teresa herself.
“[She is] my female role model,” said Hope. “She has always presented herself super nicely and has always been super kind to me. She was the youngest woman to win the title of Miss America and she still accomplished so many great things that really made me want to do more.”
Hope McCoy wants to be a translator in the Navy. She wants to go to college and learn more languages. She wants to travel the world. She also wants to have fun, make new friends and make memories as she follows in her inspiration’s footsteps.
“Success can be defined in many ways, but success to most people cannot be defined by someone else,” said Hope. “It is defined by your own personal goals, and nobody can change that.”
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOPE?
For more information about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Facebook, or CLICK HERE to follow the organization on Twitter. You can also contact Director Heather Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Director Kali Tripp at KaliNicoleTV@gmail.com.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Competition takes place April 28 in North Omaha, Nebraska.
COMING SOON.. Miss Kool-Aid Days Outstanding Teen Emily Lenser