Hollins University junior Miranda Coble’s quest to represent Virginia in the Miss America pageant is guided by the philosophy that pageant competition is a marathon and not a sprint.
The communication studies major and dance minor from Clinton, North Carolina, was crowned Miss Commonwealth on April 13 in Roanoke and is now preparing to vie for the title of Miss Virginia during the week of June 25, also in Roanoke.
Coble has been involved with pageant competition since elementary school, but notes her family has always given her the choice of continuing to participate in pageants or engaging in other pursuits. “I competed for two or three years, off and on, but my mom made sure my sister and I enjoyed our youth and got involved with sports or other activities if we wanted,” she explains. “She encouraged us to make our own decisions about competing again. I started back my junior year in high school and won my high school’s pageant, but then I took another break because I wanted the time to adjust to college. I got into it again this year and now I’m thrilled to be Miss Commonwealth.”
Coble competed against 12 other young women from across Virginia in interview, swimsuit, talent, and evening gown categories to win Miss Commonwealth, which she says is “a sweeps pageant for anyone who has competed in any other regularly scheduled pageant during the year. The Miss Commonwealth pageant is held on the last weekend you can qualify to compete for Miss Virginia.”
Coble took part this year in the Miss Smith Mountain Lake, Miss Lynchburg, and Miss Roanoke Valley pageants, and while they entailed a lot of work, she says the knowledge she gained was invaluable. “Those were kind of my practice pageants to get back into the swing of things. I learned a lot, especially from the other contestants who had much more experience. You have to have endurance – it’s not something you can start preparing for two weeks ahead of time. You have to be in the gym every day, you have to keep up with current events, and you have to be committed to your talent and focusing on making it the best you can, because you only get a minute and thirty seconds to show the judges what you can do.”
Coble is drawing on her dance minor for the talent portion of the Miss Virginia pageant. “I’ll be performing a jazz dance to Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ mixed with Alicia Keys’ part in ‘Empire State of Mind.’ It’s classic with a twist of modern, which I think Miss Virginia and Miss America are seeking. It used to be glamour, poise, and grace, but nowadays, I think it’s more about being approachable and a real person that women can relate to, no matter what their age.”
Coble emphasizes the importance of finding a platform you truly believe in and pursuing it with a passion. Her cause is teen pregnancy prevention. “I’ve had a lot of friends and young girls I’ve mentored growing up who have ended up pregnant. Watching them and helping them through that situation makes my heart ache. We have an epidemic of teen pregnancy right now.” She adds she’s always enjoyed doing community service in general, and at Hollins she lives in Sandusky Service House, which is devoted to fostering service learning opportunities and community service projects.
During her first year at Hollins, Coble got to know senior Hannah Kiefer, who was Miss Virginia 2007. She looks forward to talking to Kiefer about this year’s competition. “I know she’ll definitely be of help because she’s a Hollins sister. I’ll be working with a lot of the same people who prepared her.”
If Coble is crowned Miss Virginia, she says she will have to take a year’s leave from Hollins because fulfilling her duties will be a full-time job. In the meantime, she relishes the opportunities she has as Miss Commonwealth to dispel some of the misconceptions about pageant competition. “It’s not about what size you are or how beautiful you are, it’s who you are. You have to be yourself and you have to be true to yourself.”
Photo Credit: Rick Myers