THE PAGEANTRY INTERVIEW elizabethfechtel Performance of a Lifetime More than 100 million people were introduced to Miss America’s Outstanding Teen this year, and she’s only just begun to touch the lives of so many more hen a young woman is crowned Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, the clock starts ticking. She has 365 days to make countless ﬁrst impressions and change millions of lives, all while ﬁnding herself and determining her own future. But with very little surprise, the women who have earned this title have had very little trouble having it all during their reigns, and the same can certainly be said of Elizabeth Fechtel. As she awaits the day that she will pass on her title to another amazing young lady, Elizabeth has only begun to slow down and reﬂect on the many lives that she has touched over the past year, between her visits to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and the many other appearances she has made across the country. It hasn’t truly hit her yet, but perhaps as she continues her ambitious desire to help teenagers around the world realize their ability, she’ll real- ize that she has been one amazing role model. W Pageantry magazine: Let’s talk about Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. What does the title mean to you? Elizabeth Fetchel: This title is really such a big deal to me. From the minute I won to now, as I’m ﬁnishing up my last months, I have grown immensely, and I would not have otherwise. I’ve had some extremely wonderful experiences, and I’ve met a lot of really great people. I just ﬁnished writing the blurb that I’ll have in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen’s program book next year, and I have so much to say about so many experiences. PM: Has it been everything you’ve expected it to be, or has it been even more? EF: I didn’t really have any expectations. I hadn’t really thought out what winning the title would be like. Each day comes and goes and I just see what happens next. I’m truly thrilled with everything that has happened. PM: Why is a program like Miss America’s Outstanding Teen so important in today’s society? EF: I could go on forever about this. Our teens really need an in- 92 PAGEANTRY centive to achieve, do the best that they can do, and be well-round- ed. Without a program like this, it’s easy to go with the ﬂow and not really step out of your comfort zone. In countries around the world, there are kids who are absolutely working so hard and doing amazing things by the time they graduate high school. In Ameri- ca, high school has become a time to play around and ﬁgure out what you want to do in life and not actually get started. By partic- ipating in this program, it really gives teenagers and girls a chance to get started on what they want to do, have an impact on their communities, and grow as individuals. PM: And just like your big sister pageant, Miss America, MAO- Teen is also scholarship-based, correct? EF: Yes, and that’s also vital for me, going into college, knowing that I have a scholarship to start me off wherever I want to go to school. I had never even thought of out-of-state colleges, so it opened my eyes to many new places and really gave me the chance to decide what I wanted to do, as opposed to worrying about how I would pay for it. Now I’m going into college worry-free and my goal is to graduate debt-free. PM: Tell us a little bit about your volunteer work with Children’s Miracle Network. EF: The Children’s Miracle Network is an outstanding program. I’ve had a chance to visit many of the hospitals around the nation, as well as be involved with many of their projects. They really come in and help families who are in need, when they need money to pay for the medical expenses for their kids, and the doctors at the hos- pitals will treat the children no matter what the ﬁnancial circum- stances. They don’t want any children suffering. By participating and helping them out by raising funds and support, I’ve been able to visit the headquarters in Utah, which was outstanding. They or- ganized it so that on my birthday, the donations would be brought to the Children’s Miracle Network.