A Crowning Achievement

Allegheny junior Brianna Layman is a biochemistry major and a studio art minor. She also is a varsity soccer player, a volunteer coach for the Meadville Area Soccer Club, a committee leader for Relay for Life, the philanthropy chairman for Gamma Rho Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a volunteer advocate for Women’s Services and a peer buddy for Best Buddies International.

“I am most importantly, though, a role model for the children—and many others—of Crawford County, with a goal of exhibiting the benefits of a liberal arts education to future scientists,” she says, referring to her new role as Miss Crawford County 2015, a title she won in February.

The spare time she had leading up to the ceremony was filled with fulfilling pageant requirements, including service (each candidate is required to raise a minimum of $100 to support the Children’s Miracle Network and the Miss American Scholarship Fund) and creating a platform on which she would run.

For the fundraiser, she organized an event where a dollar donation to swing at a junk car on Allegheny’s Brooks Walk went toward “smashing out children’s diseases.”

Conceiving her platform required much more energy and thought, although it makes perfect sense when you see and understand these passions in her life. (Brianna transferred to Allegheny to pursue a liberal arts education, one that allowed her plenty of time to explore her various interests, most notably biochemistry, studio art and music.)

“‘The Art of Science: From STEM to STEAM’ delves into the importance of a nurtured and balanced education between the sciences and the arts to enhance the neurological capacities of those in the science world. I believe to reintroduce the United States as a world leader in sciences, we must work to regain public funding for the arts, and have more liberal arts trained scientists,” Brianna says of her pageant platform.

“I am super passionate about my platform because I embody it. Not only has a well-rounded education helped me out—for example, art and music classes give me a different perspective in my chemistry labs—but, as an older sister to five siblings, I want to continue to be a role model. I love being able to show younger people that the arts are super important.”

Although she now spends most of her time stressing the importance of a well-rounded education to others, she still learns more about herself every day from her own education. “I had planned to go to medical school after graduation, but now I am leaning toward getting my master’s in fine art so that I can pursue Bio-Art, a tiny field I learned about from a professor of mine. This wouldn’t have happened without opportunities and unusual classes offered at Allegheny,” Brianna says.

She will pursue those goals in time. For now, though, she is excited about the opportunities she has to make the title her own this year. “I want to squeeze as much as possible out of this role. It’s more important that I communicate my passion than worry about advancing.” She will have an opportunity to compete for a state title next year.

Brianna decided to pursue the title after realizing that the position would give her abundant opportunities to volunteer and the possibility to enact change.  “I decided to run because I believe that this title gives me a vehicle to amplify my voice,” she says, “the voice that is inside each one of us.”

— Kathleen Prosperi-McClard ’11