Allegheny College senior Samantha Bretz will compete for the title of Miss Pennsylvania in June, now that she already carries the banner of Miss Crawford County.
Bretz was crowned Miss Crawford County 2018 in February, competing against eight other contestants in Conneaut Lake. She won the interview, talent and evening gown awards as well as the first-place scholarship. Bretz performed a ballet routine to the Cupid Variation “Act III: Amour” from Don Quixote, a routine known for requiring impeccable balance and lightness.
“In the interview room, the judges asked me ‘Why are you here today?,’ Bretz recalls from her February pageant competition. “I replied ‘Crawford County is the reason.’ Out of all the places in the world I’ve traveled to, this is the place where I discovered a passion for experiential education. Now I’ve made it my mission to bring creativity, collaboration, and reflection to classrooms across my communities. I work toward a future where students can develop a sense of purpose in their education and can learn by play rather than by rote.
“For me, it’s all about personal development,” says Bretz, who is from Adrian, Michigan. “Each category of the competition challenges you to express your best self, and that comes from the preparation and practice. Titleholders should be able to eloquently communicate their thoughts and ideas, exude passion for their platforms, exhibit poise and confidence, think on their feet in stressful situations, and work toward presenting their talent beautifully.
“Once crowned, a titleholder has a “year of service” promoting her personal platform by advocating and leading in her community. I started competing as a creative means to fund my education. The Miss America Organization is the leading scholarship provider for women in the U.S., and I have been fortunate to receive multiple scholarships toward my Allegheny education.”
On campus, Bretz is an economics major and minoring in both French and dance and movement studies. She has been involved for her four years with the Orchesis Dance Company, serving as both choreographer and president, and has been a member of Delta Delta Delta, the Jazz and Dance Ensemble (JaDE), the Allegheny College choirs, Lambda Sigma sophomore honor society, the Finance and Facilities Committee, and Omicron Delta Epsilon. She volunteers with Civic Engagement, is employed as a Center for Business and Economics fellow, and interns for the Gifted/Talented middle school enrichment program.
Last year, Bretz competed in a pageant in Michigan and won the title of Miss River Raisin Festival. For Bretz, pageants have helped her to become the best version of herself — able to speak confidently, keep well-informed, and further her passion for progressive education methods.
“I would not be the successful individual I am today without the Miss America Organization,” says Bretz. “For my very first pageant interview, I was shaking in my heels as the judges asked controversial questions about current topics. By staying informed and engaging in civil discourse with my peers, I became so much more self-assured in expressing myself, and now I can confidently give an opinion on any topic in front of any audience.”
Bretz has accepted a position with Boston Scientific as a finance leadership development program associate immediately following her graduation in May. Her experience at Allegheny, as well as the rigorous practice of interviewing through the Miss America Organization, has helped her to become an ideal candidate for the position, she says.
“Even after I stop competing, I will always have this passion for education and will continue to seek ways to change the world,” she says. “It’s not just a crown in a beauty contest, but a platform to create meaningful change, and that’s what I love about Miss America. … Who knows what new and exciting opportunities await? Next stop, Miss Pennsylvania!”