GALLIPOLIS — For Megan Wise, 2016 will be an unforgettable year.
It all began last November when she was crowned Miss Ohio USA and that amazing year recently ended on the same stage where it all began.
A native of Gallia County, Wise is a graduate of Gallia Academy and the University of Rio Grande. She also teaches at Meigs Elementary School and has family in Mason County, where she also attends church. Her story touches the entire tri-county and anyone who has pursued a dream despite disappointment.
By 2015, Wise had previously competed in the Miss Ohio USA competition nine times, starting when she was 18 in the “teen” category and then moving up to the “miss” division where, over the last few years prior to winning, she had been first runner-up and second runner-up multiple times. She was so close so many times, only to come up short. Last year was her final year of eligibility and after a tough second runner-up finish the prior year, she wasn’t sure if she’d attempt one more try but she did and finally took home the big prize last year.
Looking back over her memorable year, Ohio Valley Publishing sat down with Wise for a question and answer session with the following result.
Q: Tell us some favorite memories from your year of being Miss Ohio USA.
A: Throughout this past year, I was able to experience many wonderful appearances, events, and volunteer efforts. I was proud to be an ambassador for the Pink Ribbon Girls, The USO, and Best Buddies. I also spent the year advocating for education and the importance of children’s literacy. I partnered with the Bossard Memorial Library in hosting a community event to visit with children, share my story, and read a few of my favorite books to encourage them to keep reading.
I also had the opportunity to be a special guest at many major sporting events. I attended the Opening Night Red Carpet event for the Cincinnati Reds, threw out the first pitch for the Cleveland Indians, attended the Ohio State Buckeye Fan Fest for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, and participated in ceremonial pre-game events at many of our local schools.
However, the events that touched my heart the most were the ones where I got to speak with people. I visited nursing homes, veteran’s hospitals, school and community groups, and animal shelters. I was the commencement speaker for the University of Rio Grande, the keynote speaker for the Mason County Community Foundation, and visited the Ohio Statehouse, where State Representative Ryan Smith recognized me for my achievements.
Q: What opportunities has being Miss Ohio USA provided you?
A: Being Miss Ohio USA served as an opportunity for me to spread a message throughout my community, the state, and even the nation about how important it is to believe in yourself and to never give up on your goals. But I also was able to experience a unique bit of limelight because of the title. I was signed to New View Modeling and Talent agency where I have walked in runway shows and have been featured in commercial advertisements for major brands such as Farouk Systems & Chi Hair care, Chinese Laundry, Sherri Hill, Luli Fama Swimwear, and Saks 5th Avenue, Escada.
I also had the opportunity to be a guest speaker on many morning television and radio talk shows throughout Ohio as well as being a headline feature on E News, Access Hollywood, and Cosmopolitan.
I was also a Top 15 Semifinalist at Miss USA where I had the opportunity to grace the stage in a swimsuit live on Fox in front of over 6 million viewers from around the world.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: One of the most powerful things about having a title is having the ability to impact the people around you and I tried to never miss an opportunity to do so. During my 52-week reign as Miss Ohio USA, I made over 45 event appearances in addition to a 3-week stay in Las Vegas to represent Ohio at Miss USA. All while working full time as a First Grade Teacher at Meigs Primary School.
Many people have asked me if I am still teaching and yes, I am currently still teaching First Grade at Meigs Primary School. I have had a few new and exciting opportunities to consider but for now I am enjoying some of the extra down time I now have with friends and loved ones. I am certainly looking forward to being the upcoming Christmas parade marshal in Gallipolis.
Becoming Miss Ohio USA has been a long journey for me and I cannot believe my year has come to an end. This experience has changed my life forever because, winning the title has been so much more than receiving a crown. It’s the opportunity to use your voice for good in the world and to empower others to do the same. And although this chapter is closing, I am looking forward to the future and how I can continue on achieving dreams with the newfound confidence that I have gained.
Q: Talk about how Gallia County supported you through your year as Miss Ohio USA.
A: I cannot say enough about Gallia County and the support I have received throughout my reign. I feel so lucky to have represented such a loving community in Ohio. I am so grateful for each and every person, for their time and energy in supporting me during this process. I thank everyone for the kind messages, the cards of support, the Miss USA watch parties, and all your votes of confidence. I feel like I could move mountains because of the love and support has this community has shown me. I will forever be thankful for this place I call home.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.