Miss Pennsylvania Juliann Sheldon Reigns, Gets Ready for Miss America Competition
The Plum resident won the title of Miss Pennsylvania less than one year from her first pageant.
Juliann Sheldon of Plum began competing in pageants in December. Earlier this month—just six months later—she was crowned Miss Pennsylvania.
"This is all so new to me," she said. "I'm absolutely thrilled. It was so incredible, and I was shocked because it was my first year. It's an honor to think that a panel of judges believed I could represent the entire state."
Sheldon, who qualified for the Miss Pennsylvania competition after being crowned Miss Jewel of the West in April, is the first contestant to win the title in her first year since 1999, when Susan Spafford won the crown.
Spafford went on to win second runner-up in the 2000 Miss America pageant.
"Hopefully I'll have a similar experience," Sheldon, a 2008 Plum High School graduate, said.
The winner of Miss Pennsylvania receives a $7,000 scholarship. She also receives a $3,000 scholarship for entering the Miss America pageant—which will be held January 2012 at the Las Vegas Theatre for the Performing Arts in Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
Steve Lupinetti, president of the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization, said it's a great opportunity for girls.
"There are so many chances for them to earn scholarship money for school," he said.
Sheldon, 21, said she got involved with the Miss America organization because she had met people who had competed in local competitions.
"I saw the experiences that they took part in, and I wanted to do the same," she said. "I never thought I'd get this far."
The advertising and public relations major will take a year off from Point Park University to take part in her duties as Miss Pennsylvania.
Sheldon will travel, make appearances and speak about her platform—mental health awareness—and the organization's platform—the Children's Miracle Network.
She also will be able to attend glamour events, parades and other special events as Miss Pennsylvania.
"I'm going to have many, many, many different jobs," Sheldon said.
In addition to those jobs, Sheldon has to prepare for the Miss America pageant.
"There's a lot of paperwork, and I have to train physically," Sheldon said. "My talent is dance, so I'm going to have to practice every day."
"We want to get her out into the public," he said. "It's important we get her out there because that's a huge component for Miss America. We're also going to have a personal trainer and designer working with her."
In the meantime, Sheldon said she's going to enjoy her days as Miss Pennsylvania.
"When I was growing up, I always looked up to Miss Pennsylvania and Miss America as these beauty queens," she said. "They were so far out of reach. Now that I know can actually achieve that, it's very rewarding."