Liberty native to compete on pageantry's global stage
Growing up a dancer in Liberty, Amanda Pope quickly learned to love competition. But little did she realize that love one day would place her on a global stage.
Pope, 26, now of Cranberry Township, recently was crowned Miss Pennsylvania International during the state competition in Altoona and will be competing against women from around the world in the worldwide pageant taking place in early August in Jacksonville, Fla.
“There was no greater feeling than winning (the state pageant),” she said. “I worked so hard for it and had so much support from friends and family. I was runner-up last year, and I knew right away that I would be back to try again this year.”
Unlike many contestants who start competing in pageants at a younger age, Pope — a former student and teacher at the Marlene Moore's Dance Studio in Elizabeth, a 2006 graduate of South Allegheny High School and a 2011 graduate of Slippery Rock University — has only been competing in pageants for about five years.
“My entire life, I had been a competitive dancer and a cheerleader,” Pope said. “So when I went to college, I was looking for something competitive to do. That's when I found the Miss America system and entered my first pageant. Right away, I was hooked.”
After winning two titles in the Miss America system — including Miss Butler County in 2011 — Pope said she shifted her efforts to the Miss International system, which emphasizes social platforms and charities each contestant must stand behind.
Pope, a kindergarten teacher at Stepping Stones Children's Center in Gibsonia and a dance instructor at Tammy's School of Dance in Wexford, chose to battle the issue of childhood obesity and is working with Choosy Kids — a children's health initiative that promotes healthy, active lifestyles. As the newly crowned Miss Pennsylvania International, she'll spend the next year traveling the state telling kids about the program through song and dance.
“As a teacher, I try to teach my students life skills that will help them be active and stay healthy,” she said. “Now I'll be working with Choosy Kids to introduce students to the idea of trying out new, healthier foods.”
Jodi Cessna, state director of the Miss International pageant, said she believes Pope will make a difference.
“Amanda is a wonderful young woman,” Cessna said. “She is very dedicated to promoting her platform and has already proven herself to be a wonderful state titleholder.”
Aside from her healthy mission, Pope will focus on preparing for the international pageant in August.
“I'm a little bit nervous,” Pope said. “Not only will I be competing against women from the U.S., but also from around the world. All I can do is have faith and be the best version of me I can be.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.