Danica Tisdale seemed worlds away from Temple University this weekend, though she was only in neighboring New Jersey. Tisdale, a 2003 graduate from Temple and current Miss Georgia, competed for the title of Miss America Saturday night. ABC broadcast the pageant from Atlantic City, and the 24-year-old Tisdale was watched nationwide competing for the crown.
After opening introductions the field of 52 contestants was immediately narrowed to 10, with preliminary scores determining who advanced. Tisdale’s name was called fourth; this was no surprise considering her first-place performance in talent earlier in the week.
The finalists then competed in casual wear and swimsuit, before being thinned to five. Though Tisdale did not make the final cut, friends and supporters believe Tisdale’s performance was outstanding.
“I thought she did great,” said Belinda Hagins, graduate office secretary in the English department. “Unfortunately she didn’t make the top five, but considering everything it was such an exciting time.”
Throughout the finals competition excerpts of Tisdale’s preliminary vocal performance were shown, as well as a short interview where Tisdale commented on what she does during her free time. Tisdale mentioned the “simple things” like reading and spending time with family and friends. For certain, Tisdale’s supporters were spending time attentively watching her.
“I was so excited, I even had my children watching with me,” Hagins said. “I called everybody when she got in the top 10. I thought she represented Temple very well.”
Tisdale, who received her Masters in English from Temple, is now working toward her Ph.D. at Emory University. After leaving Temple, Tisdale started to flirt with the idea of entering competitions when she began researching the Miss Atlanta competition. She promptly won the Miss Atlanta crown and then went on to prevail as Miss Georgia in June 2004. By earning the title, Tisdale is the first African-American representative from Georgia in Miss America pageant history.
As reported in the Columbus, GA Ledger-Enquirer, Tisdale thought the achievement was “an incredible honor” but never doubted her possible success. “I always thought I could be the one,” Tisdale said. “I was never discouraged.”
Although Tisdale was confident in her endeavors, she hopes that those who have apprehensions about entering pageants consider the opportunity.
“I hope to serve as a role model for all women across the state, but especially for women of color who might not have seen the possibility of being Miss Georgia as an opportunity,” Tisdale said in the Ledger-Enquirer.
Tisdale’s platform issue as stated at www.missga.org was Home Health and Hospice Care and her future goals are “to become an accomplished scholar, professor and University administrator.” With the scholarship benefits she has received from all of her levels of competition, Tisdale will undoubtedly be in a better financial position to accomplish those goals.
Tisdale earned a $5,000 scholarship for reaching the Miss America pageant, and won $4,000 for winning the talent prelims with her rendition of “Please Send Someone to Love.” She was also awarded $15,000 for winning the Miss Georgia competition.
The Miss America pageant awarded $45 million in scholarships on the local, state and national levels. This year was the pageant’s 50-year anniversary on the air, marking it as the longest running special event in television history.
Tisdale is not the only one to benefit from her pageant experiences. Family and friends have discovered a newfound respect for her as well.
“It was a surprise seeing her in those bathing suits,” Hagins said. “Knowing her I thought she was more conservative, so I thought she would have gone with the one-piece. But oh no, she went with the bikini. I couldn’t believe it.”
Temple was also represented by Miss New Jersey, 22-year-old Erica Lynne Scanlon. According to the Miss America Web site she is pursuing a master’s degree in Vocal Performance.
Brandon Lausch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.