A good scholarship pageant contestant has to have a lot of things going for her, according to Megan Kiley, Miss Washington County Outstanding Teen.
"Beauty is just the icing on the cake," she said.
A junior at Boonsboro High School, Megan, 17, decided to enter the Miss Washington County Outstanding Teen scholarship pageant after her dance teacher suggested she enter the Miss Frederick Outstanding Teen competition.
Megan competed and was crowned with her title in February during the Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland pageant at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.
Most people believe that pageants are about the looks, but Megan begs to differ. She said pageants involve a bit more than just modeling dresses and swimsuits.
"It's really all about how good of a role model you are," Megan said during a telephone interview, "you have to be well spoken and show how you represent the community."
In Miss Washington County Outstanding Teen, the teen version of the Miss Washington County competition, it's not just about being recognized for being pretty — it's also about the scholarship money.
Megan, who is the daughter of Bob and Cindy Kiley of Knoxville, Md., said the girls who wish to participate have to send in their grades and gradepoint average in order to compete. Competitors also have to tape an interview as well as hone their talent portion.
One of the most important aspects about the scholarship pageant is a contestant's platform, which is a cause or organization that the contestant would like to educate her community about.
Megan's platform is The Wounded Warrior Project, which helps active service members acquire free medical treatment. It was a cause she felt was important.
"I heard a story of when a soldier lost his leg and he received a free artificial leg and his surgeries were free," Megan said.
Wounded Warrior Project also works with the Fisher House Project, which houses the soldier's family while they are in surgery or bed ridden at the hospital.
Pageant competitors are able to choose which platform they would like. And for Megan, the Wounded Warrior Project has a special meaning for her.
"I chose it because I have a lot of family and friends that are in the military," she said. "I wanted to do something to help reach out to them. I love what the military does and how they do everything voluntarily."
Since winning her title, Megan now must focus on the Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen scholarship pageant in June at The Maryland Theatre.
Although the scholarship pageant isn't for another month, Megan has already begun to prepare.
"My interview was recently taped," she said. "I go to a coach because the interview is worth a lot of points."
Along with the interview coaching, Megan also dances multiple times a week and makes sure to have her teachers watch her closely.
"Most of the preparation is in your talent and interview," she said. "Once you have your dress and sportswear, the rest just falls in to place."
Even if Megan does not win at the state level she plans on competing once again next year — but at the level of Miss Washington County. She'll be eligible because the Miss Maryland pageant is open to women 18 to 24 year olds.
"It will be a lot harder and I will be one of the youngest Misses," she said. "This year is my last year as a teen, but I'll definitely try again next year, even though the competition will be a level tougher."
Courtney Bradford is a member of the teen Pulse journalism program. A senior at Boonsboro High School, she plans to major in journalism at Shippensburg (Pa.) University this fall.