The night before she was crowned Miss Tennessee, Stefanie Wittler had a dream that she had won. “Everything that happened that night was exactly how I imagined it in my dream,” she said.
In fact, being a beauty queen has been a dream of Wittler’s since she was a little girl.
“I remember watching the Miss America pageant, pretending to be the winner, and my mom would make me a bouquet of flowers to hold in my hands,” Wittler said.
Her dream comes true January 30 when Wittler represents Tennessee at the 2010 Miss America pageant. The show is scheduled to air live on TLC from the Theater of Performing Arts in Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Miss Tennessee’s crown comes with a $10,000 scholarship for the UTC senior, which she said has paid for most of her tuition. The communication major also noted that Miss America is number one in providing the most scholarships for women.
Wittler didn’t begin competing in pageants until she was 18. As a high school senior, she became the 2005 Soddy-Daisy Junior Miss. In 2006 at the age of 19, she heard about the Miss Hamilton County pageant as a freshman at UTC. She entered the pageant and won the title the day before fall classes started at the University.
Wittler won the swimsuit portion of the Miss Tennessee pageant—a part of the competition that still sparks controversy.
“I don’t think it should be removed,” responded the Soddy-Daisy resident. “We’re just striving to show that we’re fit, and that’s something that Americans need to do, not just beauty queens,” Wittler said, adding that the swimsuit score is a very small portion of the competition.
As Miss Tennessee, Wittler is the spokesperson for “Safe and Drug Free Tennessee,” a joint program created by Governor Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Education. She will travel to schools across the state to speak to students about the importance of staying away from alcohol, drugs, and violence.
“I’m going to encourage kids to make wise choices, and set goals for themselves,” Wittler said. “Staying away from drugs, alcohol and violence is a good direction to the right path,” she said.
Wittler will also be raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the national Miss America platform, and for the Ronald McDonald House in Chattanooga, her personal platform. She has done community service for the Ronald McDonald House since 1990, and has since helped raise $10,000 for the center.
Miss Tennessee credits her parents, Steve and Kim and her boyfriend, Second Lieutenant Kevin Beavers, for being very supportive of her journey. Beavers, a 2008 West Point graduate, is currently in Ranger School and was unaware that Wittler had won the Miss Tennessee title until she sent him a newspaper clipping. Beavers will be in attendance at the 2010 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas.
“They have all been very supportive, and I am blessed and fortunate to have them in my life,” Wittler said.
Though she is preparing for the Miss America Pageant, Wittler is focused on her current job of Miss Tennessee.
“The role of Miss Tennessee is very challenging,” she said. “But with God’s help, I will get through this. I want to be the best Miss Tennessee I can be,” she said.
—By Tia Tappan, UTC intern