Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei, 25, was the first 2019 candidate to win the $1,000 preliminary onstage question scholarship. Vanderhei answered a question about discrimination in college admissions.
“Everyone has the right to high education,” Vanderhei said. With $20,000 in scholarship winnings before coming to Miss America 2019, Vanderhei also mentioned how the cost of a college education can be prohibitive to many and is the reason many of her fellow contestants choose to enter the competition.
Despite nerves, Vanderhei said she loves the interview portion of the competition, “With working in broadcasting and reporting for a number of years before taking a bit of a break this fall and benefiting from the age rule change, I’m happy to be here and have the opportunity.”
Miss Florida Taylor Tyson, 23, wowed judges with a shortened rendition of “Mephisto Waltz” by Hugarian composer Franz Liszt on the piano. The classical number earned her the first $2,000 preliminary talent scholarship.
Tyson explained how she chose Florida Atlantic University over attending a music conservatory for her post-high school education.
After the evening’s competitions, both Tyson and Vanderhei said the swimsuit competition was not missed as a category by those who would have previously walked the runway.
The Miss America Competition preliminaries continue Thursday and Friday at Boardwalk Hall.