Liz Toal will make her fourth appearance in the annual Miss WCU, this time crowning the next Miss WCU. The next woman to be crowned will “really have to work for the crown” at the Miss WCU pageant on Feb. 5. In the three “worth-while” years Toal competed, she learned so much.
“It’s about being beautiful on the inside,” Toal said about her experience in the pageant. “It’s not about a beauty pageant or what’s seen on the outside.”
The judges “know it’s not a popularity contest” or who has the “best talent” portion. The competition “can be so real.” Twenty college students will be “putting themselves out there for this dream or goal” as they compete for the title in a competition that will “benefit you as a person.”
“Miss WCU builds a stronger foundation . . . as a woman college student,” Toal said. “These women make a difference [on-campus].”
Promoting her platform last year, Toal posted fliers on the main bulletin boards in the residence halls. In November, the Great American Smoke-out Month, Toal promoted her platform with facts and a demonstration. Every eight seconds, someone dies from tobacco use. In the academic quad, the student of the organization Colleges Against Cancer [CAC] would pop a balloon every eight seconds and informed the passing students that this represented a death from tobacco.
Toal’s original platform focused on “Kicking butts: fight against tobacco on college campuses.” Rachel Brooks, who won the titles of Miss WCU 2003 and Miss Philadelphia, inspired Toal to “utilize my title and branch out to other passions.”
Wanting to do more than her original platform, Toal thought about her passions. With her “love for children” and “love of arts” Toal decided to combine these two for a more “beneficial” platform.
Beginning in the summer for a program to benefit, Toal searched for a local non-profit organization for children. Toal contacted Lois Moses, the executive director of Sankofa Academy Charter School in West Chester, to benefit the school. Moses told Toal they loved that someone was willing to give to their school.
On Jan. 22 Toal raised over $320 for the charter school after hosting a showcase and silent auction. The showcase was a benefit “for the children.” The Sankofa Academy is a non-profit school, educating students in fifth through 12th grades.
Last year’s proceeds from Miss WCU tickets will also be donated to the charter school. Toal said the donations will go towards education software, books, school supplies, arts and crafts, and more.
Rosemary Kolmus was crowned as Miss WCU 2009 with over 700 people in attendance. The proceeds from the show were donated to her platform, LiveStrong organization, which she continues to promote.
“I realized we all went through the experience of becoming Miss WCU,” Toal said it’s a network like colleagues. “I can access any source that could help me with anything that I need in life.”
Many of the former Miss WCU will also compete for Miss Philadelphia. Including Kolmus, runner-up in 2009. Jackie Chilcote received an award for her platform after being named the third runner up in 2009. Chilcote works to promote awareness of sexual abuse of children and Stop the Silence. Andrea Helfrich was named in the top 10 in 2009 as well as 2010. Rachel Brooks was named Miss Philadelphia in 2007.
West Chester University will host Miss WCU 2011 in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall of Philips Memorial Building. Beginning at 7:30 pm. The next Miss WCU announced will take over Toal’s “job responsibilities.”
“I would encourage every single woman on campus, who is comfortable and willing enough, to be a part of Miss WCU,” Toal said.
Crowned winners of Miss WCU receive a scholarship for $500 to go towards their education. The girls competing for the title will participate in a talent portion, casual wear, evening wear and an on-stage question. Prior to the event, all the girls will be interviewed by the panel of judges.
The women on stage “may not be aware of the influence or the affect” they will have on each other or the people in attending the event. This event is something for every competing woman “to look back at” as well as to “see what’s down the road in your future.”
As Toal prepares to crown the next Miss WCU, she said it’s an unbelievable feeling that a year has passed since being crowned by Kolmus. Time passes in a “good way” as she realizes how “you grow so much in a year.”
“It’s an experience you gain, even for the girls who don’t win a title,” Toal said. “I think the girls will realize this next week when it’s over. Every girl will walk out on Saturday night with a positive memory.”
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.