Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan discusses young people, politics, hard work and confidence with TheDC

Nikki Grey Contributor
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While Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan was in town speaking at the Young America’s Foundation High School Leadership Conference Thursday, she sat down with The Daily Caller to talk about young people, politics, hard work and confidence.

Scanlan, 18, is the first Miss America to be elected from Nebraska. She is also among the youngest to ever wear the crown. Scanlan won the title at the age of 17 – something that hasn’t been done since 1937. Scanlan said that though the odds were stacked against her, she proved that her age wasn’t as big of a factor as it was made out to be.

“Maturity has nothing to do with age,” Scanlan said. “Age is just a number. Maturity comes with your willingness to accept responsibility. That confidence is not always from being successful, but to not be afraid of failure.”

Overcoming her fear of failure and discovering her passions in life has been one of Scanlan’s biggest obstacles and triumphs. Having learned that confidence comes from not always being successful in everything that you do, but to always have hope and faith in God, she said, her mission is now to inspire others, young people in particular.

That’s why she’s so excited to be at this leadership conference.

“I’m always excited to meet people that are in my generation that are willing to get into (politics), to be part of the group that do move ideas forward and effect the lives of everybody in the country,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan plans to attend Patrick Henry College in the fall, after which she would like to go to law school. Her goal is to eventually become a politician.

Though Scanlan had to limit her comments to those of which were bi-partisan in nature, she did mention what she is looking for in a leader of this country.

“The number one thing that I look for is paying attention to the Constitution and I think that not enough people do that now in any branch of government, but we definitely need to see more of that in our political candidates,” Scanlan said. “They need to be very focused on obeying the law. No one is above the law.”

Scanlan said that though she was too young to vote last election she still got involved. She encourages young people to do the same. Volunteering for a campaign, or just volunteering in general, she said, will help you discover your passions and your talents.

Scanlan spoke about being willing to work hard, something she thinks might help young people who are struggling to get hired in the tough economy.

“I’ve heard from many people that I’ve been able to talk to that are in hiring positions that are CEOs of companies, that they don’t see the same work ethic from our generation as they did from others,” Scanlan said. “I think that that’s something we can definitely learn from, and realize that we haven’t learned everything that we needed to in school.” Scanlan thinks this is no reason to discount young people, however.

“We may not have all the skills and qualifications, but even when you’re not in school and you don’t have a job, there are still things we can continue to work on, continuing to learn, always being curious…and always trying out new things, because you never know until you try.”

Scanlan’s passion for politics was sparked from trying something new, she said, when her family began to volunteer on a campaign. Scanlan said that though not all young people share her interest in politics, she still thinks they should get involved in the political process.

“You can’t just sit back and talk about what’s going wrong and complain about what you don’t trust and don’t agree with if you’re not doing anything about it,” Scanlan said. “Each one of us has the ability to make a difference. However small that may be, if all of us did our part, together that would make a world of difference.”

As Miss America 2011, Scanlan hopes to spread this message.

“I’ve traveled around the country and seen people that are so despondent, so hopeless and have heard the word impossible over and over again,” Scanlan said. “I just find it my mission to tell them that there’s no such thing, that with God, anything is possible and there is hope.”