From left, Samantha Phommalyla, Miss America, Mallory Hagan, and Gabrielle Hughes, during a video interview visited the high school's media class, in Galloway, Monday Sept. 9, 2013.

Vernon Ogrodnek

1. What do you remember about the day you were crowned? What was it like knowing you were the next Miss America?

It was certainly amazing! I was so shocked, but, obviously, overwhelmed that I had accomplished something I set out to do so many years ago.

 2. Tell me about your journey as Miss America. How have you grown and what have you learned along the way?

Latest Video

 I began competing in the Miss America Organization when I was 13 years old. Being a part of something that encourages young women to be the best version of themselves they can be is so rewarding. I have grown and matured through my trials and triumphs in a way that makes me so proud to now represent the organization that gave me so much.

 3. What have you done regarding your platform?

  I have been able to do a ton this year regarding my platform, Stop it Now: Child Sexual Abuse. I often speak at benefits, summits or conventions that are meant to raise awareness or educate the community on Child Abuse.

Additionally, I have worked with the National Children’s Alliance on Capitol Hill speaking with Senators and Congressmen about restoring funding for the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA) which distributes money to the Child Advocacy Centers across the nation.

4. How are you feeling about the competition’s return to Atlantic City?

I am thrilled! Atlantic City is the birthplace of Miss America and the energy there surrounding the pageant is unmatched. I just know it is going to be one of the best Miss America pageants in the history of the Organization. I’m so excited!

5. What have you enjoyed the most during your tenure as Miss America?

This year has given me an opportunity to go and do so much across our country. I have enjoyed being a National Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, being a face for our clothing sponsor Joseph Ribkoff, lobbying on Capitol Hill and meeting tons of celebrities. However, I would say the best part about being Miss America is that there are 52 other women who I competed with who have been on the journey with me. In every state I visit, I try my absolute best to connect with my Miss America “sisters.”

It’s amazing to know you now have a friend in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico!

6. What is next for you? What are your plans?

Immediately? I am going to spend a few days sleeping. But ... not too many. I already have quite a few speaking engagements lined up that revolve around my platform. Additionally, in January, I will be heading back to school at The Fashion Institute of Technology to complete my degree in Communications.

7. Tell us about your experience in the Miss America organization. How has it helped you?

The organization has helped me in many ways. Most importantly, though, it taught me that being myself was enough. So often in our society we look to others to emulate instead of trusting that we know best for ourselves. Being Miss America is about being kind, being confident and being you.   

8. What is your advice for the next Miss America?

Remain true to you. This is your journey ... make sure it’s one that you will look back on and be proud of!

 9. What are you most looking forward to doing while in Atlantic City for this year’s Miss America competition?

 I am definitely most looking forward to A: The Show Me Your Shoes Parade and B: Boardwalk Hall! Both are going to be so exciting to experience for the first time.


Been working with the Press for about 27 years.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.