(Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
Miss America Contestant Theresa Vail is on a mission to inspire women and as a military sergeant double majoring in Chinese and Chemistry and proudly boasting two tattoos, she may just be the person to do it.
She is tall, blonde, and has that "star qualitym," say those who know Theresa Vail. All of those things would likely be enough to get Vail, 22, into the running for Miss America. But this Miss Kansas, who will compete for the 2014 title of Miss America, is all of that and much, much more.
Vail is currently a sergeant in the military who recently just signed up for another six-year term. One of nine siblings, she joined the military when she was just 17 years old. A member of the Kansas National Guard, she has earned awards that include Distinguished Honor Graduate at the Army's School of Ordinance as a mechanic, Distinguished Honor Graduate at the Army's School of Health Sciences as a dental technician, and expert marksman with the M16 A2 rifle, according to her website.
Her newest mission, in the form of a Miss America contestant, will carry the same goal as all of the rest of her accomplishments. Her aim, she says, is to inspire women by challenging them to do things not typically categorized as female activities.
"When girls learn they have what it takes to 'hang with the guys,' they feel a sense of internal strength, like they can conquer the world and take care of themselves. It is an immense confidence-booster and a great way for young girls to find themselves," Vail said in a statement on her website.
"I truly believe my platform will build responsible and respectable young women," she added.
Vail is the second member of the military to compete in a Miss America competition and the first to leave her tattoos showing during the swimsuit part of the competition. When addressing why she chose to leave her tattoos visible, Vail wrote in a blog: " What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink. With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can't do the same? ... I am who I am, tattoos and all."
One of those tattoos is of the "Serenity Prayer" which reads: "God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference."
Vail says she got the tattoo when she was 20 after years of praying to God for help during years of bullying and neglect. She admits that she would not have made it as far as she had without the power of God in her life.