Miss Montana: Dragon first, contestant second

Miss Montana, MSUM’s own Sheridan Pope, competes at the Miss America pageant.

Miss Montana, MSUM’s own Sheridan Pope,
competes at the Miss America pageant.

Nearly two weeks ago, Miss America 2013 was announced. While many students may have learned of this announcement simply from its somewhat negative publicity after controversy over the winner’s ethnicity, MSUM’s role in the pageant was bigger than students may have known.

Sheridan Pope, an elementary inclusive education senior and Montana native, was a competitor in the pageant this past year as Miss Montana 2013.

While students may think that Miss America is all glamour, Pope assures her classmates that it is quite a lot of work, especially as far as her talent, tap dancing, was concerned.

“I had to dance at least every other day,” Pope said. “I was weight training five days a week and then doing cardio or yoga.”

Pope also had a special interview coach.

After her incomparable experiences in the Miss America pageant, Pope gives a lot of credit for her successes to MSUM.

“I think one of the best things that helped me to prepare for Miss Montana was the epitome of being a Dragon,” Pope said.

Pope is involved with Student Senate and the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, to whom she gives a great amount of credit for her leadership skills.

Pope also gives credit to MSUM, as she used her elementary inclusive education major to develop her necessary platform for the pageant.

“My platform is ‘Possibilities for Disabilities: Inclusion Education,’ so it directly correlates with my major,” Pope said.

As a former Miss America contestant, it is Pope’s responsibility to take off a year of school to do a school tour.

“I will be going to all the schools in Montana, speaking about my platform and the Miss Montana scholarship program and how important it is for students to make a plan for higher education.”

While her MSUM education was beneficial for the Miss America pageant, Pope also thinks that being Miss Montana will benefit her schooling as well.

“I have gotten to meet so many awesome people in my field,” Pope said.

Pope’s involvement in the Miss America pageant also gave her opportunity to receive scholarship money.

The now nationally known Montana native didn’t always see herself as a pageant girl. In fact she wanted nothing to do with the idea.

“The first pageant I did, I was literally drug by my toenails,” Pope said. “I was like, ‘heck no. I’m not doing a pageant. That’s stupid.’”

Pope does not regret doing her first pageant, however.

“When I was there, it was felt like I was hanging with friends,” Pope said. “It didn’t feel like a pageant at all. So, after that, I was hooked.”

Pope is glad that she took part in the Miss America pageant this year, as she is grateful for the experiences she had, but she thinks she is done with pageants after this.

“I think I am going to be a has-been after this,” Pope laughed. “I think I’m going to retire at 21. They are a lot of work.”

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