Miss America Pageant crowns a winner


Jeromy Mackey, Staff Writer

On September 10th, 2017, history was made when Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota 2017, won the Miss America 2018 pageant being the first from her state to do so. Her victory put a spotlight on her impressive list of accomplishments. Cara graduated from the University of Brown with Ivy League honors, and is planning on pursuing a Juris Doctorate. In addition, the qualifications of her fellow contestants show that the negative image of a “shallow beauty contest” surrounding the pageant may no longer be applicable. The talents were impressive, the interview answers were educated, and besides the trademark (and newly named) “Health and Fitness and Swimsuit Competition” the scoring was judged on merit. The Sunday evening was hectic and stuffed with content, but here are a few highlights.

Pennsylvania Performance

Miss Pennsylvania 2017 Katie Schreckengast impressed viewers by playing “Listen” from Dreamgirls. However, controversy arose over her immediate elimination afterwards. The talent portion, according to the rules of the pageant, holds the most weight in tallying up the final scores. Since many audience members and viewers back home were wowed by Katie’s performance, there was much a large amount of confusion at such a quick elimination. Nonetheless, Miss Pennsylvania was still a member of the final top ten, and that accomplishment kept her head high.


Political discussion at awards shows and pageant has nearly become a tradition in American entertainment, and the Miss America Pageant was no exception. The Miss America 2018 pageant seemed to have no issue bringing up President Donald Trump’s political decisions in the interview segment. Pageant winner Cara Mund criticized Trump when asked about his decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement regarding climate change. Margana Wood, Miss Texas 2017, passionately renounced Trump’s response to the violent actions in Charlottesville, VA.

Experiencing the Pageant

Due to the inclusion of political discussion in the pageant, some critics have begun to question what the political role of the pageant should be. An associate of mine, Jeremy Kuharcik, who has worked in the pageant industry for years, and is currently involved with the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, agreed to answer a few questions regarding the experience of the pageant and the role of politics.

Q: Could you briefly tell me about what you do at the Miss Pennsylvania pageant?

A: I’ve been co-hosting the pageant for the past 8 years; I began my first year with the system as a judge, and then moved into the emcee job the year after that. Of all the emcee and guest appearances I do during the year, it’s honestly the most inspiring, and my favorite event — you’re surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do and who strive to be the best well-rounded versions of themselves.

Q: What is it like to be in the audience for the Miss America Pageant?

A: I’d imagine for most guys it’s similar to being in the stadium for the Super Bowl. Which, in a way, it is. Crowds gather together by state and bring signs and banners to cheer. It’s an adrenaline rush.

Q: Do you think, based on your own experiences, that the pageant should serve as a platform for political discussion?

A: I think any time you have influence, you should use your status to affect positive change. The Miss America system is based on empowering young women. That includes allowing them to discover, voice and defend their opinions and beliefs.

Q: Lastly, how do you feel about the stigma of “shallowness” surrounding not just this pageant, but pageants in general?

A: I can only speak to the Miss America system. The organization is the largest provider of scholarship money to women in the world; many of the young women I know entered into the pageant not to become a “beauty queen,” but to pay for school. And have been able to finish undergrad degrees and even go on to law schools and med schools with the money they received. The community service, interview and platform is a substantial component of the Miss America system, which sets it apart from the stereotypical pageants. And — like anything else — instead of believing broad generalizations about a group of people, it’s best to get to know the people involved on an individual basis. Some of the most gifted, humble servants I know are the women competing in the Miss Pennsylvania program. Our current Miss Pennsylvania Katie Schrekengast is the epitome of a public servant without a superficial bone in her body; her commitment to the organization stems from a desire to share her adoption story with the nation, and allow for more open and honest dialogue about blended families.