The 2011 Miss American winner is now a sophomore at the small, conservative Patrick Henry College. Teresa Scanlan is setting her sights on Harvard Law School and the US presidency.
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
It's a startling contrast to some observers — the glamorous, bikini-clad Miss America from 2011, Teresa Scanlan, finding her home at the tiny, super-conservative Patrick Henry College. The school requires students to dress modestly and "seek parental counsel when pursuing a romantic relationship."
But the match has been a good one. Scanlan returned to campus in late August to begin her sophomore year. Among the things she loves about her classmates and her campus: "I've never had to sign an autograph, and I've never had to take a picture. Here, I can be just another student," she said.
Blending in is not always easy for Scanlan, who won the Miss America Contest at 17, representing Nebraska. The youngest Miss America in more than 70 years, she spent a year fulfilling her duties and enrolled at Patrick Henry in 2012. She says the school's workload matched the grueling schedule as Miss America.
The school was established in 2000 with the goal of giving home-schooled Christian conservatives a foundation to help them effect change in government, the law and journalism.
The school started with 90 students and a single major — government. It is still a tiny campus in the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C., but now has 320 students and five majors, including journalism, literature and history. The SAT scores of its students are comparable to top-tier state universities.
Scanlan, who came from a homeschooling family, says she wanted to go to Patrick Henry ever since she was 8.
She said she's frustrated by stereotypes that some hold about Patrick Henry students. She recalled a recent photo essay published about the school that she felt went out of its way to depict students as cloistered weirdos. The reality, she said, is that while the students are Christian, they come from a variety of backgrounds.