Southeast Ohio teacher reigns as Miss Ohio USA

megan wiseGallipolis native Megan Wise knows the importance of perseverance. The pageant veteran and reigning Miss Ohio USA competed for nine years to get to where she is today. In her final year of eligibility, Wise took the crown and is now preparing to compete in the Miss USAcompetition later this year. Southeast Ohio sat down with Wise to discuss her big win and how she balances her job as a first grade teacher at Meigs Primary School with preparations for Miss USA.

A love of the stage

A lot of people think I started [competing] when I was really young. They see “Toddlers and Tiaras” and think I’ve been a pageant girl my whole life, but I actually started at 18. I just fell in love with the whole system and the stage presence and the showmanship of it all. I just kind of stuck with it and knew that this was something I ultimately wanted to do, and that was to go to Miss USA.

Crowning moment

[Winning] was pretty indescribable. It’s something that I’d worked really hard for, for the past nine years. I could always see myself winning the crown, but when you’re actually in that moment it’s just an overwhelming and indescribable feeling of gratitude and joy all crashing together.

The road to Miss USA

I’m just still trying to grasp that I’m actually going. I feel like I’ve been working out like an athlete and training mentally like a politician. I’m trying to stay up on current events, while balancing it with the physical aspects, because it is going to be in HD and I don’t want to come unprepared! Doing all that and trying to balance work, because I do still teach first grade at Meigs Primary, has kind of been a balancing act.

Committed to the classroom

A lot of people have asked me ‘Well, are you still working?’ and I say ‘Yes, I’m definitely still working. I have 25 first-graders that depend on me every day and I just can’t jump ship and abandon them in the middle of the school year.’ Some of the girls [in class] understood [my win] and were really excited about it when I showed them my crowning moment video. The boys didn’t really understand. Some of them thought it was my birthday and I heard one boy thought I’d won the Buckeye game.A love for Southeast OhioI love the area. I went to Gallia Academy, I went to University of Rio Grande, I teach at Meigs. If I didn’t have the community behind me, and my supporters from this core area where I live, I probably wouldn’t have the drive to have completed this goal. I feel like it’s not just for me, but a little bit has been for all of them because they’ve supported me all this way. I have a lot of pride to represent this Southeastern Ohio area, and to take it clear to Miss USA.

The importance of perseverance

My whole message through my win and my journey to Miss USA is just perseverance and not giving up on the dream. It took me years to actually get here. I think a lot of times people give up on things way too easily if it doesn’t happen for them right away. I just really want [young people] to persevere and keep going and keep working hard. Because if you put the work in, ultimately you’re going to be able to achieve it.