Too Young for the Job?

Posted January 17, 2011 by Marcy Twete in Leaders We Adore

On Saturday night, America watched (literally – biggest Miss America ratings in years) as Teresa Scanlan, Miss Nebraska, was crowned the 2011 Miss America. And as the crown was placed on her head, host Brooke Burke informed us Teresa was the youngest Miss America in history – she’s only 17! I had to ask myself how, though, given that Miss America requires contestants to be high school graduates, could she be 17? Well, as it turns out, she was homeschooled for most of her education and graduated last year at age 16.

And while I see that Miss Scanlan is poised, beautiful and cute as a damn button, I can’t help but ask myself, isn’t she just a bit too young for this? Is the job too big for a 17 year old to handle? And should we expect a 17 year old to put off her college education to travel the world playing the piano, waving and shaking hands for the Miss America organization? I don’t know.

I suppose throughout our careers, women are asked, can you really do it? I feel that way often. So I suppose it’s hypocritical that I question the ability or stamina of this clearly gifted young girl. Conflicted, I am, as I think on one hand, let’s let 17 year olds be 17 year olds. But on the other, maybe she’s just the role model Americas 17 year olds need.


About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."


    Corinne Corbett

    I had many of the same thoughts, Marcy. As mature as she might be at 17, there are many "rites of passage" some of Scanlan's competitors have under their belts: college, study abroad, work experience.

    I'm on the fence about pitting 17 year-olds against 23 and 24 year-olds; no doubt the age differences (and possibly maturity levels) run the gamut. But kudos to Miss Nebraska for being on her toes during the interview portion and going up against tough competition. Maybe a fresh face will bring the Miss America organization back to relevance?


    I didn't watch Miss America but 17 is young, very young, to basically become a beautiful representative for Nebraska and the US. That's a huge job – a ton of pressure – and where is her college fun?

    Of course, if she graduated from HS at 16 then college would have probably been rather different for her anyway.

    At 17 I felt like I had my head on straight but looking back now I was rather young and dumb…and that wasn't so long ago!

    Kudos and good luck to her!

Leave a Response