Bellisario College of Communications

Alumna crowned Miss Virginia, eligible for Miss America

Penn State alumna Tara Wheeler was crowned Miss Virginia on Saturday, earning a $16,000 scholarship and making her eligible to compete for the title of Miss America in 2009.

A busy, well-rounded student who played goalie for the women's ice hockey club team, served as an Air Force ROTC cadet and worked for a local radio station as a news reporter during her undergraduate days at Penn State, Wheeler has been competing in the Miss America pageant system for several years. She entered the Miss Virginia competition as the reigning Miss Arlington and had previously held crowns as Miss Blue Ridge Mountains 2007 and Miss Pittsburgh 2006.

She earned her degree in journalism from the College of Communications in 2006.

In addition, to encourage other young women to break down stereotypes, write their own self definitions and to become leaders in their communities, she founded Positive Role Models Building Powerful Women (Pos-Pow), an organization dedicated to building self-esteem and leadership skills in young women.

She has been accepted to attend graduate school at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., but plans to defer that admission until next fall.

Her career aspirations include working as a reporter or anchor for a TV news station and using her position in the public eye to advocate organizations that encourage and value female empowerment.

Developed by the Miss America Organization, the Miss America program exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women and to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. The program provides a forum for young women to express their viewpoints, talents and accomplishments. Almost all contestants have either received, or are in the process of earning, college or postgraduate degrees and utilize Miss America scholarship grants to further their educations.

Last Updated March 19, 2009