Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011 Hangs out at The Willow Tree

Boden (Bo) Berndt with Teresa Scanlan.

By Barbara Day

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011,  was in Louisville on Wednesday, May 4 to meet and greet Louisvillians at The Willow Tree, 657 S. Hurstbourne Parkway. Joseph Ribkoff, a national sponsor of the Miss America Pageant, had sponsored her to appear at the Great Steamboat race which was re-scheduled in June because of the flooding and attend the Derby Celebrity Luncheon. While she was in town, Teresa was promoting the Joseph Ribkoff line sold at The Willow Tree. As a frequent customer of the Willow Tree and the proud owner of many of Joseph Ribkoff’s designs, I went over to meet Teresa and just say “Hi,”  and welcome her to Louisville.

Teresa was very approachable and easy to talk to. After briefly talking to Teresa about her background, it was easy to understand  why the judges were impressed with this 18 year-old young lady (born February 8, 1993)!  Teresa, a resident of Gering, Nebraska, is the youngest Miss America since 1937.

Home Schooled & in the Middle of Seven Kids

Teresa, the middle of seven children,  was home-schooled until her junior year of high school. She attended Gering High School for part of her junior year and then graduated early from Scottbluff High School in 2010.  Teresa took a double load of classes throughout high school which entitled her to an early graduation. As a result of her hard work, Teresa was named Salutatorian for the Class of 2010.

Teresa played Sharpay in Disney’s High School Musical Onstage at her high school. Active in choir, show choir and in church activities, Teresa also plays piano, guitar, sings, dances and composes music. Her competition talent was performing Whitewater Chopped Sticks on the piano.  Teresa’s platform for Miss Nebraska was “Eating Disorders: A Generation at Risk.” Her platform choice was made based on a friend of hers who struggled with bulimia.

Thankful for Her God-given Talents!

Teresa has not been shy about her Christian convictions. She said on her blog, “When I found pageantry, I realized that God had prepared me for this competition by creating me to love diversity, and here was the place I could use the talents He had given me.”  Teresa’s maternal grandparents, Frank and Nives Jelich, immigrated to the United States from Ilovik, Croatia.

The Future President, Maybe?

Teresa decided to take a year off from school to fulfill her duties as Miss America. She will go to Patrick Henry College in Virginia in fall of 2011. Teresa told me that she wants to take her coursework in something which involves government  and ultimately would like to go to Harvard’s Law School. Who knows maybe she will follow in the footsteps of Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America from Minnesota and a current Fox News Morning Anchor, to learn the media ropes before she launches into her political aspirations.


On her interest in politics, Teresa told  AP that a politician should “stand up for what’s right, stand up for integrity and honesty., At this point, attorneys and politicians are looked down on and have terrible reputations for being greedy and power hungry and I really think it’s important for people who have their heart and mind in the right place to get into those powerful positions.”


But I can tell you this, after spending a few minutes talking to Teresa, I get the impression that she full of energy and ambition and there’s nothing stopping her! You go girl!


Dinner with Heather French Henry

Teresa said she had met Heather French Henry briefly at the Miss America Pageant but was looking forward to having dinner with Heather and really getting to know her.


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian (www.DayByDayNutrition.com) who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.