Amanda Smith of Dade City, who won the Miss Pennsylvania title on Saturday, is not a novice when it comes to pageants.
Smith, who will compete in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in September, won numerous titles while growing up in Pasco County. Some of those include Miss Pasco County, Queen Rattler (at the San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival), Miss Sparklebration and Miss Pasco High School.
A student of Carnegie Mellon College in Pittsburgh, where she is beginning her junior year, Smith said she was surprised at winning her latest title.
“I went in just for fun,” she said in an interview Tuesday, “then I won preliminary evening gown and talent, and on Friday I was named in the top 10.”
Smith, 21, who graduated in 2011, won the Miss Pasco County Pageant that same year and participated in the Miss Florida Pageant.
“Oh, I’m excited,” she said of her recent win. “It’s the biggest feeling right now. I’ve had Facebook post after Facebook post; it’s been a really great experience.”
In the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant, the top 10 have to re-compete in each category except the interview, Smith said. The judges saw that she was from Florida and asked her why she wanted to be Miss Pennsylvania.
“I said that since Miss Pennsylvania was potentially Miss America I would like to have an appreciation and knowledge of all the states,” she said.
Smith won the Miss Southwestern Pennsylvania title to qualify for Miss Pennsylvania. Smith hopes to have a career in the performing arts.
“I always have loved the stage,” she said. “I would prefer anything on stage, but I would never turn down a movie if I was offered one,” she added with a laugh.
Growing up in Dade City, Smith was a member of Alison Graham’s Showstoppers show choirs and performed in several productions with the Arts In Motion community youth theater.
Smith is the second woman from the Dade City area to compete for Miss America in recent years. Shannon Schambeau-Patterson of San Antonio competed in the 2006 Miss America Pageant as Miss District of Columbia; she came in fourth runner-up.