May 18, 2022

She is there | News, Sports, Jobs


Since being crowned Miss Pennsylvania 2021 in June, Meghan Sinisi, from Altoona, has been busy traveling the Commonwealth, making appearances while teaching the baton and honing her interview skills for the Miss America pageant Thursday.

During a break between appearances in November, Sinisi said the camaraderie gained from entering contests is immeasurable.

“People have this common misconception, in general, of women, that we are in competition and we cannot get along,” Sinisi said. “Growing up with brothers, I wasn’t in a lot of spaces with a lot of women. So when I started to get involved in twirling, it taught me to have a community of women who have a similar goal.

As the state representative for the Miss America organization, Sinisi had the opportunity to support a variety of community events and organizations and speak about her social impact initiative to inspire appreciation from the autism and the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit it founded, “From a new point of view. “

Its efforts are dedicated to accepting, respecting and empowering people with autism. Unlike many advocates, she has no personal connection with someone with autism.

Sinisi grew up in a Catholic and faith-filled home, Anthony’s only daughter “Tony” and Lori Sinisi and the sister of three baseball player brothers.

“They taught me to be tough and not to let things get to me and my mind” she said of her brothers.

“When I think back to my childhood, it was so much baseball in the backyard and on the baseball field watching them play on the diamond,” she said. “This is where my love of baseball really grew. I was always at the baseball field watching my brothers play.

As she was there for her brothers’ ball games, they supported her twirling efforts.

Sinisi started twirling at the age of 3 with the ShowTwirlers in Altoona, under the guidance of the mother-daughter team of Pam Maierhofer and PJ Maierhofer Burkin. PJ was the Penn State Blue Band’s featured twirler from 2005 to 2009.

Maierhofer Burkin, 34, who now lives in Findlay, Ohio, said Sinisi “She always had a certain sparkle. “

She remembers how Sinisi “Got into sport immediately”, noting that she was naturally talented and clearly passionate about the baton.

“His passion never died out” Maierhofer Burkin said, adding that Sinisi is respectful, kind and a positive example for young twirlers.

Sinisi calls Maierhofer Burkin “one of my greatest models” and said she was inspired by her to spin at college despite her failure to become a flicker in high school.

At Syracuse University, Sinisi became the school’s star twirler, “The orange girl”, from 2013-17.

His freshman debut came when Syracuse faced Penn State at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ

She performed again at MetLife Stadium during the 2014 Super Bowl pre-game festivities. “It was the most exhilarating performance of my life” she reminded herself. “We’ll see how Miss America compares. “

In her teens, Sinisi took wand lessons from Debbie Bernhart of Hollidaysburg, who runs Carol’s School of Baton in Altoona. Sinisi went from student to teacher, working as an instructor to twirling.

“Meghan is a teacher’s dream. She enjoys practicing and is up for challenges. She pursues things until she conquers them ”, Bernhardt said.

Sinisi only entered the competition circuit at university, when she learned that scholarships could help pay for her education.

Her ultimate goal is to obtain a clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology and pursue a career in early intervention with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Like any student whose parents are from the working class, Sinisi has a university debt.

Winning Miss Pennsylvania came with a $ 10,000 scholarship and an additional $ 1,000 scholarship for winning the Social Impact Initiative Award.

Nationally, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier has won more than $ 77,000 in scholarships through the Miss America program, according to the website.

While the scholarships initially attracted Sinisi to competitions, the camaraderie found among the applicants and having a platform to raise autism awareness kept her involved.

Sinisi said the stereotypes about women entering competitions are not true.

“My ideas have been totally changed” she said about the competition. “We are all going through it together. It’s a long week; there are a lot of nerves and emotions in a competition, so you form that camaraderie and are there to support each other. If someone is wrong on a question, you can come back to them and support them.

Maierhofer Burkin said that Sinisi is “The type of person you want to win. She is the perfect balance between (being) ambitious and determined but also genuine at all times. In today’s world, it is very difficult to find these truly authentic people, but she is one and she shines. She’s as graceful on her knees to talk to a brand new twirler as she speaks in front of thousands of people at a public event.

But it’s the times behind the scenes where she meets other people that Sinisi values ​​most.

“You can come from any state or country and find that you have so much in common” Sinisi said.

“What I especially liked (being the Orange Girl) and now as Miss Pennsylvania, are the moments the camera never sees. There are times in the pre-game, when a little person s approach you and take an interest in you and this is the time to leave an impression and inspire them to do something good in their life or to try something new. It’s to be that person to show them that they can.

Sinisi said heartwarming encounters can happen anywhere.

During a visit to her car dealership in Hanover for 10,000 mile service, she shared a “Really special moment” with one of the employees.

“We started to talk about our common belief in God and our faith”, she said, noting that it’s not a conversation she gets to have very often.

“I am a very religious person” she said. “So sharing that moment was extremely special.”

With her car service over, the employee asked if she could pray with Sinisi. As she remembered the meeting, Sinisi’s voice broke and tears flowed in sincere gratitude.

“She prayed for me and for (my) safety and strength to carry me out with positivity and inspire others”, Sinisi said. “It was extremely special.”

Sinisi moved to obtain his undergraduate and graduate degrees and “Life experiences” but plans to return to the region regardless of how Thursday’s competition goes.

“My love for Altoona and this area of ​​Pennsylvania is due to the fact that this is where my grandparents and great-grandparents chose to live. They came from Italy in 1921 when my grandfather was very young. … They chose to start their American dream here ”, she said.

As many young people move away, Sinisi said. “I think it is so important to go away, to gain a life experience and an understanding of other lives and lived experiences, and then to come back and bring it here to share it with your community.”

“What I want to do as Miss PA and Miss America is bring the experiences of every person I meet and share them with the world. I don’t see this position as everything about me. representing people I serve across Pennsylvania. I always challenge myself to be vulnerable to people, so if I hear something, I connect with them.… I try to share. It’s really important when you are a public figure to relate to the people you represent.

Residents are invited to a “Watch the party” at 8 p.m. Thursday to support Sinisi at the 100th Anniversary of the Miss America Pageant being held at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. The show will air live on Peacock, NBC Universal’s streaming service. The contest ends with a week of appearances and activities.

The latest news today and more in your inbox