Miss Pa. hails from CMU

The new Miss Pennsylvania was crowned July 12. The winner, Kendria Perry, is currently a master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.

Born and raised in Raleigh, N.C., she graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts, where admission is based on artistic merit, and students start their serious artistic pursuits as early as the eighth grade. She studied classical piano, and now as a student at Carnegie Mellon, she studies arts management.

When asked why she chose to come to Carnegie Mellon, Perry responded:

“As an aspiring arts manager, the lure of Pittsburgh’s thriving arts and cultural sector was definitely a factor in my choice to attend Carnegie Mellon,” Perry said.

“I was also impressed by the program’s emphasis on building strong quantitative and analytical thinking skills. Last but not least, I was fortunate enough to receive a partial scholarship from the MAM [Master of Arts Management] program.”

As an active member of the Carnegie Mellon community, Perry has been very involved in extracurricular activities. She has mentored for the Carnegie Mellon chapter of Strong Women Strong Girls and highly recommends it to all women. If she wins the title of Miss America, Perry wishes to continue her passion of promoting the arts in education as well as serving as the ambassador for Children’s Miracle network.

She hopes to work as a director of outreach for a major performing arts organization of museum in the future.

Currently though, she is living a hectic life preparing for the Miss America competition and even participated in a reality television series, Miss America: Reality Check on The Learning Channel, featuring the 52 Miss America contestants.

Perry explained the obstacles of her busy schedule.

“I struggled last semester to balance my coursework and the hours of preparation for the pageant. This year, I am required by the pageant organization to take a leave of absence from CMU for the duration of my year of service as Miss Pennsylvania. It truly is a full-time job with public appearances and speaking engagements booked nearly every day. I will return to CMU in the fall of 2009,” she said.

Perry said, however, that all the sacrifices are worth it.

“The most compelling and maybe surprising fact is that the Miss America Pageant is still the largest provider of scholarships for women in the nation. The program offers many opportunities for personal growth, and professional networking,” she said. “Also, as a musician, I am always looking for opportunities to perform. I believe that young classical musicians have to be willing to seek out a broader audience. We must be innovators.”

The preliminary competition will begin Jan. 20 and the winner will be crowned Jan. 24.