Megan Smith is not a beauty queen. Rather than practicing her pageant walk, she spends her time working, serving the Boston community, and leading Bible studies for the BU’s Navigators Christian Fellowship. While it may seem surprising that this week’s Campus Celebrity spent the past two years as Miss Teen of Minnesota, in reality, it’s no shock at all. Megan won her title at the competition that serves to recognize high achieving, poised, and well-rounded young women. (“They advertise themselves as ‘not a beauty pageant,’ all caps.”) And Megan perfectly fits the bill. Although she handed over the crown to disembark from her journey as titleholder this past year, this COM sophomore and aspiring journalist is just revving her engine.
The road to victory began when Megan received a letter stating that a coach had recommended her for the Miss Teen of Minnesota pageant. In the style of Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries, Megan’s reaction was anything but credulous. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s really funny. I play three sports and go hunting in the fall with my dad and brothers. I am not entering a pageant. No way.”
Two and a half years later, Megan still doesn’t feel defined by her former title. In fact, she never planned on winning. After a few days of mulling over the opportunity, she decided to enter the competition, knowing it would be worth it just to make a few new friends.
One interview, one general knowledge test, and three resume preparations later, Megan was crowned. Each of these factors earned her the award, won by years of success in academics, hobbies, and service, as found on those resumes. Megan’s high school days were spent playing soccer, basketball, hockey, and track and field, and working on the yearbook. She was involved in her church as well as the National Honor Society.
The competition highlighted Megan’s many achievements, but what’s a pageant without a runway number? Wearing a prom dress during the formal gown walk, Megan won the final votes of the judges with her confidence, poise, and personality alone. No spray tans, false eyelashes, or dieting. “I didn’t do much to prepare. I think I whitened my teeth, but not even at the dentist – I used Crest Whitestrips.”
After one year with her new title, it was time for a new chapter as a freshman at BU. When she arrived on campus as a Miss Teen titleholder, she humbly excluded that one little fact from introductions. “I never said, ‘Oh by the way guys, I’m kind of a big deal.’”
Her freshman year at BU was just that – a very big deal. After participating in FYSOP, she traveled to DC for Invisible Children’s MOVE global summit and political rally, and volunteered with the Special Olympics at FitRec and as with the Jack Brewer Foundation to fight global poverty and hunger. Taking home the First Runner-Up prize, she ended her year with the Miss Teen of America pageant during Thanksgiving break.
Megan is no longer a titleholder, but her impact as a role model hasn’t faded. She still receives emails from girls she met when she staffed other pageants as a judge and photographer. The message she wants to send to her admirers and those who want to compete in pageants is that “it’s not about the title, but it is about being yourself.”
“Some people get caught up, I think especially girls, in comparing and saying ‘This is what I need to do to be valuable.’ And that’s not true. What is valuable is you, your sense of self, and your sense of fulfillment. And you’re not going to get that doing what other people tell you to do. That’s my way to say be yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what to be.”
As for what Megan wants to be, she sees herself in multi-media journalism. She plans to travel and report to raise awareness for causes including women’s issues, public health, and social injustice. “I hope that my career is dynamic and changing, and that I’ll get to have experience in a lot of different things.” If her career turns out to be as dynamic as she is, we’re sure this former titleholder has a lot in store.