Miss Clayland 2015 is Jenna DePizzo!
My humble beginnings in pageantry started at my county fair, on a dusty, worn stage competing for the title of Miss Trumbull County Fair 2007. After walking the stage in my cousin's prom gown, giving a three minute autobiographical speech, and answering an on stage question, I was awarded first runner up...and caught the “bug.” I competed in that same small fair pageant three more times before capturing the title and a $1,000 savings bond that I put towards my education. Since my modest beginning over eight years ago, I have earned $16,150 in scholarship dollars to fund my education at Slippery Rock University, a dream that I would have never thought possible.
From a very young age, I knew that my family could not possibly afford tens of thousands of dollars in university tuition, no matter how great their dreams for me. My mother showed me how to change discouragement into determination with her own hard work ethic. I started my first job as a waitress when I was 14 years old, and saved every penny for college. Still, I knew it would not be enough.
As a college freshman, I entered my first Miss America local pageant, Miss Butler County (PA). I did not walk away with the title, but, as first runner up, I earned a couple hundred dollars in scholarship. Having put literally not a single dollar into the pageant, I saw this as a huge gain, and quickly signed up for my next local. What started as an entertaining way for me to pay tuition bills quickly led me to earn so much more.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the performance level it requires, I have conquered my fears of singing, speaking, and even dancing in front of an audience.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the life skills it nurtures, I have walked into countless interviews with ease, empowered by my previous experiences.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the women it attracts, I have gained countless new friends with whom I share passion, drive, and a strong will to succeed.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the opportunities it provides, I have been able to serve my community, totaling about 1,800 hours over the past five years.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the scholarship dollars it awards, I was able to graduate with my M.Ed. in K-8 Math and Science Education at the age of 23.
Because of the Miss America Organization and the publicity it offers in my community, I was able to earn a career as a first grade teacher before I even graduated.
Over the years, I have been Miss Allegheny Valley 2012 (PA), Miss Maple City 2013 (OH), Miss North Central Ohio 2014 (OH), and Miss Clayland 2015 (OH). Last August, I was finally named the title I am most proud of…Miss DePizzo. The Miss America Organization gave me the interview skills, scholarship dollars, and hard work ethic I needed to land my dream job. As a public school teacher, I am able to live my platform of inclusive education every day, continuing the work I started as a young woman competing in the Miss America Organization.
This past year, whenever I was having a tough day at work, I was reminded of this quote: “A good teacher is like a candle…she consumes herself to light the way for others.” I believe the same is true of any public servant, including women in the Miss America and many other pageant organizations. I have done my best to live this quote as a teacher, and will continue to do so as I finish my year as your Miss Clayland 2015.