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South Fayette native earns pageant title

| Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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South Fayette Township resident Ashley Schmider participated the Miss United States Continental pageant in Houston, Texas, and was crowned the winner.

The pageant, held this July, is in its fifth year and its national director, Gaspar Cruz, has built the competition toward recognizing strong and confident girls and women from across the country.

Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) has been Schmider's platform since her freshman year at Duquesne University when she began working with this mentoring organization.

Since graduating from Duquesne, she has a mentor to college women concerning their professional careers. She just completed her first year working with KPMG LLP, one of the Big Four accounting firms, in the area of regulatory risk consulting for the financial industry. As she travels to New York City, Delaware and Baltimore to work with clients, she has been able to be a part of the discussion about pilot chapters of SWSG in these cities. This month, she has shared her story of mentoring and the positive impact this organization has made in her life when she facilitated one of the workshops at the bi-annual training for college women.

Schmider's pageant experiences extend back to the summer after graduation from South Fayette High School when she competed and was crowned Miss Pennsylvania Teen. Continuing to gain in self-confidence and good interviewing skills, she then competed in Miss Teen Pennsylvania pageant and won that title as well. During her last two years of college she was named Miss Southwestern, then Miss Laurel Highlands, and was first runner-up in 2013 in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant/Miss America Organization. At Miss United States, she represented Pennsylvania.

As the winner of the Miss United States Continental pageant, she receives products for the year from the organization's sponsors, such as Park Lane Jewelry, Fleet Physique, Maui Babe Browning Lotion, The Artisan Center, and other photography and hair-care items.

Earlier this month, Schmider attended the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and will travel to Ecuador at the end of the year to complete in the Miss Tourism International Pageant.

She will make guest appearances at various events with “sister queens” Abby DePhillips, Miss T.E.E.N. United States, and Ashley Southern, Miss T.E.E.N. 2014.

“Pageants have made me the person I am today,” said Schmider. “They allow girls and women to grow and learn skills they can use in all areas of life. From pageants I can easily walk into a job interview or step on to a stage to speak.”

She feels blessed to have the opportunity to promote the SWSG platform and the values of the Miss United States Continental organization throughout her year's reign. These experiences collectively advocate the mutual empowerment of women of all ages and she is proud to associate with these programs.

Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or charlotte59@comcast.net.

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