Twenty years ago, then-student Michael Hartman (‘02) held the Miss Killinger Hall pageant in the basement of Killinger Hall in 1997. The pageant then grew in the following years into Miss West Chester University. Now, with 20 years’ worth of titleholders who have gone on to do great things, Hartman wants this year’s pageant to shine a light on the past, present and future.

“As we enter our 20th anniversary, the 2018 Miss WCU Pageant will be a celebration of our past as we look to the future of the Miss WCU legacy,” said Hartman. Past Miss WCU titleholders have graduated and pursued bigger pageant titles. 2003’s Miss WCU, Rachel Brooks-Atkins, was 2007’s Miss Pennsylvania and won the non-finalist talent award at Miss America. 2015’s Miss WCU, Nia Andrews, is the current titleholder of Miss Philadelphia 2017.

“[Miss WCU] gave me so much confidence and also created dozens of new friendships with the other accomplished women who competed,” said Erin McCarthy, Miss WCU 2017. McCarthy took home Miss WCU 2017 with a platform on suicide prevention.

“I competed in the Miss WCU pageant so I could turn my love for West Chester and passion for suicide prevention into something positive for the community,” McCarthy said. “I lost my friend Danny to suicide my freshman year at WCU. It opened my eyes to the lack of awareness and support for mental health and suicide prevention in our world, with 1,100 lives lost each year on college campuses alone. I was devoted to changing that at West Chester and Miss WCU is the greatest platform for doing so.”

The pageant consists of an interview with a panel of judges, casual wear portion, talent and formal wear with an on-stage questionnaire. Participants compete for the title of Miss WCU and also to win awards and scholarship prizes.

“The women who participate in the Miss WCU program are the best of the best student leaders from across all walks of life,” said Hartman. “The pageant provides an outstanding platform to recognize the leadership, talents and service of WCU’s female undergraduate student body.”

Miss WCU 2018 is gearing up to be a special pageant. Contestant applications are currently being accepted.

“To all the women thinking about competing, go for it,” said McCarthy. “You only have a short time at West Chester and when opportunities present themselves, take them. One of you will be the next Miss WCU and have the chance to represent our incredible university and make a difference. It will truly change your life.”

Applications are available in the Office of Residence Life and Housing Service, located at 202 Lawrence Hall. They are due by November 16.

“Being Miss WCU 2017 has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said McCarthy. “I’m sad about how quickly the time has passed, but looking back on all of the incredible connections I’ve made and people I’ve had the privilege of meeting has been something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Sunny Morgan is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at

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