Newly crowned Miss America 2011, 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan from Gerig, Nebraska, has made history by becoming the youngest winner of the coveted pageant since it began in 1921.
The winner was announced on Saturday evening at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Scanlan beat 52 other young women from across the United States.
The young Nebraskan played "White Water Chopped Sticks" on the piano in the talent portion of the competition. She talked about the WikiLeaks website, saying that security comes before public access to government information.
Along with the title of Miss America 2011, Scanlan won a $50,000 scholarship.
The first runner-up was Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady who earned a $25,000 scholarship. Second runner-up honors and a $20,000 scholarship were awarded to Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier.
Scanlan, who recently graduated from high school, will study at Patrick Henry College. Her ambition is to attend law school, become a judge, and eventually a politician, according to her pageant biography. But first, she'll register to vote after she turns 18 next month.
Scanlan was not deterred from entering by her youth, although she admitted to wondering if her age would make her an underdog.
"We were on an even playing field," she told the Associated Press. "From 17 to 24, that can be a huge age range. But with these girls, they are all at the highest level imaginable."
The Miss America Organization provides young women with a vehicle to further their personal and professional goals, and instills a spirit of community service through a variety of nationwide community-based programs, according to the organization’s website.