Drexel Universitys Lauren Bilski, a junior majoring in dance with a physical therapy track, was crowned Miss Philadelphia at Drexels Mandell Theater on March 31. The Miss Philadelphia pageant serves as a preliminary round in the Miss America competition.
As part of the competition Bilski performed an original jazz dance to the Glee version of Don't Rain on My Parade and also spoke about her interests in working as an advocate for victims of traumatic brain injury. According to Bilski her inspiration to compete comes from one of her role models, Shannon Doyle, Miss Pennsylvania 2009.
"I was inspired by the difference she was making with her platform which was helping to improve living conditions for hospitalized children," said Bilski. "I was passionate about helping children affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and I knew that pursuing this opportunity would give me the chance to make the biggest difference."
Bilskis pageant platform is Bounce Back from Brain Injury and she intends to spend the year visiting children affected in area hospitals, soldiers who are coming home from war with TBI, and helping those individuals struggling to get acclimated to their normal routine.
Bilski recently completed her cooperative education job placement working as a physical therapy aide for Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There she primarily assisted patients, who had been injured in car accidents, with their physical therapy exercises.
The therapists that I worked with were dedicated to making sure I was constantly engaged and learning as well as having a positive experience, said Bilski. The patients that I got the opportunity to work with were incredible. The co-op experience has been more than I could ever ask for and I am looking forward to working with them in the future.
Bilski has aspirations of gaining admission to Drexels doctorate of Physical Therapy program after graduating next spring, with an ultimate goal of becoming a physical therapist for the Pennsylvania Ballet.
As winner, Bilski receives a $10,000 scholarship from TD Bank, the pageant sponsor.
In preparation for the Miss Pennsylvania pageant on May 26 Bilski plans to practice for her talent dance, make a positive impact on the city as Miss Philadelphia and stay up-to-date on current events. She is looking forward to meeting and fostering new relationships with the more than 30 women who will also be competing for the title of Miss Pennsylvania.
"The other 18 contestants that competed for Miss Philadelphia were all incredible women and I learned so much from them, and the issues that they are fighting for," said Bilski. "It will be exciting to see everyones talents and hear about the amazing things they do."
This is not the first time Bilski has competed in the Miss Philadelphia pageant; in 2010 she competed for the title and was voted Miss Congeniality by the contestants.
The Miss Philadelphia pageant first started in 1921 and is geared towards community service, scholarship and providing contestants with the opportunity to develop personally, professionally and scholastically.