Bonnie Bing

Miss America still has plenty of family here

If Wichitan Berniece Scanlan sent her granddaughter Teresa Scanlan a Valentine, I bet she had a difficult time figuring out where to send it.

Teresa, who was crowned the new Miss America on Jan. 15, hasn't had two minutes of downtime since then. She's been to Canada, Dallas — where she celebrated her birthday at the Super Bowl — and several other places, including Hawaii.

"It's been so crazy since the pageant that I really haven't had time to talk to many people, but I certainly hope to talk to my grandma soon!" Teresa said when we exchanged e-mails.

Her grandmother says she is proud of all the hard work Teresa did to get where she is today. "She has worked like a little Trojan," Berniece said. "Whatever she took up she worked hard on it, even as a little kid."

Teresa's parents, Mark and Janie Scanlan, lived in Wichita and graduated from local high schools — Mark from Kapaun and Janie from West High. They moved to Nebraska before Teresa was born, but her grandmother and several aunts and uncles are still in the area.

"I believe the last time I was back in Wichita was around this past October for a big family reunion on my dad's side. We had a great time and it was wonderful to be back!" said Teresa, who competed in the Miss America pageant as Miss Nebraska.

If you watched the pageant, you saw a very poised 17-year-old wearing some of the best gowns of the evening.

"I absolutely love fashion!," she said in her e-mail. "But in addition to the fashion trends, I think having style is even more important. I was fortunate enough to be able to decide on each dress myself, while having great input as well."

Teresa is one of seven children, so she had a lot of family support in the audience when she was crowned.

"Needless to say, it was a surreal experience," a proud dad said of the pageant. "They moved the parents of the top 15 contestants to what they called 'camera row' so you were there with a camera right in your face. I always thought she would be in the top five, period," Mark said.

He says she'll be flying about 20,000 miles over the next year. I think it would be good if one of those planes would bring her back to Wichita.

"My family tries to make it back to Wichita at least every year," Teresa said. "We love to visit our family, and my parents love to make it back to their hometown."