Amy McElhenney
Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index



McElhenney crowned Miss Bexar County
Amy McElhenney of Rice was crowned Miss Bexar County during the Miss Bexar County/Miss San Antonio pageant Jan. 19 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The title gives McElhenney the opportunity to compete in the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant July 3-6 in Fort Worth. During the pageant, she also won the interview and swimsuit competitions.

McElhenney is the daughter of Debbie McElhenney and the late Harold McElhenney. She attended Rice schools and graduated in 1999 from Blooming Grove High School. She is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Spanish and religious studies.

6/27/2002 Rice beauty McElhenney eyes Miss Texas crown


One more win and Amy McElhenney, a 1999 Blooming Grove graduate and former resident of Rice, could be on her way to compete for the Miss America title.

She was crowned Miss Bexar County in San Antonio this year. The win helped to qualify her for the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant that will be held July 3 through 6 in Fort Worth. If she wins that competition she will be eligible to participate in the national Miss America contest.

McElhenney said even though winning Miss America is considered a huge accomplishment, being crowned Miss Texas is not a simple task.

"To win Miss Texas is more difficult than Miss America," she said.

One of the contributing factors of complexity in the Texas competition are the numerous entries in the pageant. There are many young women who are competing for the same thing. Obtaining noticeable recognition and status during the judging is not easy, she said.

After McElhenney started at the University of Texas at Austin the idea of entering a pageant developed. She is a senior and her degree will be in Spanish and education, with a minor in religious studies.

After returning to Rice to visit with family and friends the pageant plans began to develop.

"I had come home for Christmas and Regina Cassady and her husband Rick, who was my third grade teacher, asked me if I had ever thought about doing pageants," McElhenney said.

Her first response was a quick, "No."

She said because of everything that had been portrayed about girls who were in pageants she did not consider herself to be the right type. Upon learning more about the process, encouragement from the Cassady's and others, McElhenney began to look at the benefits that might come from winning a pageant.

After all of the requirements were met she was ready for her first state-level entry.

The judging for the first pageant was broken down into five categories. The interview question was worth 40 percent, talent 30 and bathing suit and evening gown competition 10 percent each. Another 10 percent came from the composite of all scores.

When the scores were in McElhenney was Miss Bexar County.

"My interview helped me win," she said. "I was the last contestant and no one explained how or what I should say."

She was given 45 seconds to make an impact on the judges.

"I had them laughing," she said. "They told me 'You were the person we were looking for.' "

During preparation and prior to the event she said some girls sat around in cocktail dresses, had their hair in rollers and had plenty of makeup on hand. McElhenney opted to wear sweats, carried the minimum in makeup and enjoyed talking to her mom and roommate who went with her.

At the Miss Texas pageant, the top 10 candidates will be determined on the last day of the pageant. Once the judging is in the final stages, the remainder of the Miss Texas pageant will be televised at 8 p.m. on Channel 21 in Corsicana.

McElhenney said if she wins she will be ready to enter the Miss America pageant. One of the major requirements is to be a spokesperson for something. She has worked and been very active in cancer research programs for several years. Miss America will make over 400 appearances in 365 days.

Winning Miss Texas is tougher than it appears, she said, adding winning requires much more than looking good in a bathing suit.

"It takes brains to win," she said.

Contestants are told they are applying for a job as a spokesperson for Miss Texas. There are over 200 visits to different schools, clubs and other groups.

One of the biggest surprises she has had as a beauty pageant competitor is what a person must know and relate to others. McElhenney hopes her academic scholarship and ability to speak in public will be the advantage needed for an overall win.

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Barbara Forman may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]. || Articles Index

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