Local to compete for Miss Collegiate America title

Cortland resident takes big stage after winning state pageant

CORTLAND — A Cortland resident who won the Miss Collegiate Ohio pageant is moving on to a bigger stage at the Miss Collegiate America pageant.

For self-admitted “small town girl” Deneen Penn, who was born and raised in Andover and graduated from Maplewood High School in 2015, pageants are something that she has done for years. In 2007, Penn was Little Miss Pymatuning, and went on to become Miss Pymatuning in 2013, and then Miss Trumbull County Fair in 2014.

After high school, Penn decided to attend Kent State University Trumbull because it had a great business program, was 15 minutes from her home and was affordable.

“Academics always comes first though,” said Penn, who is now a sophomore majoring in business. Aside from her education, Penn works two jobs to help support herself, working as a waitress and at PacSun as a sales associate.

“Some people might have stigmas about beauty pageants but all the girls are intelligent and hardworking,” Penn said.

Penn’s platform in the Miss Collegiate pageant is the B.R.A.V.E. platform, which stands for Building Respect and Values for Everyone. B.R.A.V.E. is the national and official anti-bullying platform of the Miss Jr. High, High School and Collegiate America pageants, and promotes presentations to school-aged children in libraries, schools and communities about creating awareness for a bully-free environment.

“I’d say middle school was a difficult time for me because I was very insecure about the way I looked, but my parents always said people won’t remember if you had braces or glasses, they’ll remember how you treated them,” Penn said.

Ironically, Penn’s sponsor is Henri’s Cloud Nine, a store that Penn always wanted to visit but was never able to until the Miss Collegiate Ohio pageant.

“Henri’s is giving me opportunities that I would have never gotten without the scholarship program, to travel America and meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Penn said.

When she’s not working, training for a beauty pageant or getting an education, Penn’s hobbies include archery, horseback riding, scuba diving and water skiing.

For anyone who considers entering into a beauty pageant, Penn advised being passionate and willing to be yourself. According to Penn, she has had some friends from high school contact her about her modeling career and she encourages other girls to enter the pageant.

“The crown is about more than the fashion, it’s about the voice,” Penn said.

After the Miss Collegiate America pageant in late June in Little Rock, Ark., Penn said that she plans on competing in the Miss America pageant, as it would be a great means for her to voice everything that she is passionate about. When she completes KSU, Penn is considering attending law school at Ohio State or the University of Akron School of Law, but so far no plans have been made.