Yough grad named Mrs. Pennsylvania
Mary Brennan had a proud moment when she was awarded the title of Mrs. Pennsylvania earlier this month.
It wasn't the crown being placed on her head, but her daughters and husband cheering her from the audience.
“There's something about seeing your little girls in the front row and so proud,” she said.
Brennan, a West Newton native, was given the title reserved for married women at the Mrs. Pennsylvania United States pageant on April 7 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Moon.
As the winner, Brennan will compete in the national competition for Mrs. United States in Las Vegas in July.
A Yough Class of 1997 graduate, Brennan now lives in Gibsonia with her husband Jay Kucinic, a Smithton native.
Family and friends as well as the couple's four children — Sofia, 9; Rylie, 8; Lucy, 5; and Benjamin, 1 — cheered Brennan on as she competed in rounds including an on-stage interview, bathing suit and evening gown.
“I was a little intimidated, but I guess it worked to my benefit,” she said.
There was also a closed interview round in front of a panel of judges, who asked about biographical information and the cause of the contestant's choice.
Brennan hopes to work with the Best of the Batch Foundation, formed by Pittsburgh Steelers player Charlie Batch, and other organizations that work to eliminate education inequality.
She noticed the disparity in public schools when her family lived in New York for two years and just one train stop away, children didn't have enough books or resources, but her children had access to tablet computers and interactive white boards.
Her husband said the stay-at-home mother with a degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in marketing deserved the title because of her compassionate and empathetic nature, as well as her drive.
“She has a lot to offer, not just on the beauty side of things, but she's an educated woman, an outgoing and confident woman,” he said.
Daughter of Germaine and John Brennan, she was lauded as first-runner up in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant about 12 years ago, then, heard about the pageant earlier this year and decided to give it a try.
“I hadn't really thought about it for years,” she said, but felt like she needed a goal to work towards.
She and her future sister-in-law worked with a personal trainer and she researched topical events that could have been questions during the interview.
Once the day of the pageant arrived, Brennan said she focused on each round and tried not to get ahead of herself.
“I was nervous going in, but it wasn't until I got there that I was extremely nervous,” she said.
When Brennan's name was called as the winner, she couldn't believe it.
“I kept thinking, ‘Did they say the right name?'” she said.
Kucinic said the pageant helped show Brennan how much everyone appreciates her hard work, since accolades don't come often as a stay-at-home mother.
“It just was exciting seeing people get behind her and support her,” he said.
Brennan made her first official appearance as Mrs. Pennsylvania at a Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce benefit for Kate Crawford, a breast cancer patient and founder of Project Sweet Peas, which helps families and premature babies.
“She is the most incredible person I know,” Brennan said. “I felt so humbled and so blessed to be meeting her and hearing about al these wonderful things she's doing, even while sick and with three small children.”
Brennan also plans to sing the national anthem on May 25 at the Rostraver Ice Garden before a boxing match and make an appearance May 27 at the Smithton Memorial Day parade.
A whole gang of extended family and friends, including her husband's parents, Aileen and Fred “Duke” Kucinic of Smithton, plan to take a trip to Las Vegas for the national competition.
Brennan said she's confident for the national title, but plans to enjoy doing community service and raising awareness with her yearlong position representing Pennsylvania.
“It's something I'll only get to do once,” she said. “I never thought at 34, being married and having children, this would be something I'd get to do.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-836-6660.