Miss Illinois visits students
Student Marcela Sandoval gets a picture taken with Megan Ervin, Miss Illinois 2012, who was a guest speaker at West Leyden High School meeting with the fashion classes, Fashion Club, and Work Coop classes from both campuses | James C. Svehla~for Sun-Times
Updated: December 18, 2012 3:12PM
Megan Irvin, age 23, was crowned Miss Illinois on June 30.The morning of Dec. 6, she traveled to West Leyden High School to discuss Dressing for Success with students in fashion classes, the Fashion Club and co-op students. On Jan. 12, she’ll compete for the title of Miss America in Las Vegas. She stopped by the offices of the Franklin Park Herald-Journal to discuss small town life, having an answer for everything and breaking the curse of being a runner-up.
Q: How did it go with the students this morning?
A: It went great. They had a lot of questions. What’s my favorite store? Where I shopped? They asked a lot of question about the wardrobe and for Miss America.
Q: Ever been to Northlake before?
A: I’ve passed through it on North Avenue. I’m going back to West Leyden (High School) in March during their safe driving week.
Q: You’re from Rushville? Where is that?
A: Usually I say Rushville, no one knows what I’m talking about. It’s an hour north of Springfield, 50 minutes from Quincy. A small town, 4,000 people.
Q: What was it like growing up there?
A: It was very close-knit. I was a five-sport athlete through high school; cross-country, track and field, basketball, cheerleading and competitive dance. They know your stats, know you’re a starter, know the medals you’ve won.
Q: When was your first pageant?
A: I didn’t enter a pageant until after I was a senior in high school. I needed to be older. I needed to be more mature. The girls in college did better. Then I went for Miss Schuyler County.
Q: And after that?
A: Then the Miss Illinois contest. I was first runner-up. Then I went to a different pageant organization. I got my stage presence locked down. I was Miss Macomb County (while at Western Illinois University). Then back to Miss Illinois.
Q: For a second time?
A: There is this first-runner-up curse. Every girl who was a first runner-up who came back would do worse. I decided to go back and give it one last shot. I broke the first runner-up curse and fulfilled my dream.
Q: How do you train for a pageant besides the physical?
A: Basically you’re studying for the ACT or the biggest test of your life. Hitting the books, especially in the weeks before the pageant. (Studying) politics, economics, hot topics. Lots of mock interviews. The Miss America organization is looking for more than personality. They’re looking for intelligence, poise, control, how you keep your composure when asked a difficult question.
Q: Ever have a question you couldn’t answer?
A: Today in the school they were trying to ask me about my personal life. Do you have a boyfriend? Do you think you’ll be married in a couple years? You could probably ask me what color undergarments I’m wearing and I’d probably tell you. I like to think I’m pretty good at formulating something or diverting it to something relatable.
Q: What’s it like to be looked at all the time?
A: I’m just used to it. It comes with the territory.
Q: Anything you don’t like about being Miss Illinois?
A: There are things that are harder to get used to. The traveling schedule. Sometimes living out of a car is a huge adjustment.
Q: How much have you traveled since becoming Miss Illinois?
A: Fifty to 75 appearances a month for the first few months. I got my car at the end of August with 38 miles. Now it’s pushing 13,000 or 14,000 miles. Some days I have five places to be. Some days two. I fill in the free time with rehearsals and exercising.