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Five of 23 contestants in the 2012 Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Pageant have the distinction of being University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Titans.

With degrees from nursing to journalism to K-12 education either in hand or in sight, these  women – a combination of students and graduates – are not only using the pageant to help propel their further educations and promote community-focused platforms, each is an advocate for higher education.

“Not many people get their dream job right out of college, but, somehow, I managed to,” said Miranda Rosenthal, 22, Miss Onalaska 2012.

Rosenthal graduated UW Oshkosh with a nursing degree in May. She takes her state board of certification test in July and then will begin her career working in the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center’s trauma emergency center in LaCrosse, next door to her native Onalaska.

Rosenthal touts the importance of staying focused and active in a lifelong activity or hobby as her pageant platform, “Shooting for Success: Targeting Right Decisions.” She uses the sport of archery as a literal and metaphorical example of her message, intended for middle-school age young people.

“I’m able to say, ‘This is what you want to do with your life — what can we do to help you reach your goals? How can we keep you focused?’” she said.

The pageant is celebrating 50 years in Oshkosh this summer. Over that half-century, from year to year, there have typically been a few UW Oshkosh students who have won regional, Miss-Wisconsin-connected contests, advancing them to the marquee scholarship pageant held in the institution’s backyard.

This year, Rosenthal’s fellow Titans in the running for the Miss Wisconsin crown include: Miss Heart of the Valley Desiree Geffers (’11, degree in elementary and special education); Miss Wisconsin Central Mariah Haberman (’10, degree in journalism); Miss Madison-Capital City Chelsea Hammett (pursuing a degree in elementary education); and Miss Oshkosh Samantha Philip (entering her junior year at UW Oshkosh).

And it isn’t just Titans entering the fold every year. The UW System of institutions is well represented in the 2012 pageant.

Another five of the 23 Miss Wisconsin contestants are UW-Milwaukee students or grads. Several others have attended or are attending UW System schools including UW-Green Bay, UW-LaCrosse, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Whitewater.

The pageant concludes June 16 with the crowning of a new Miss Wisconsin.

Miss Oshkosh Samantha Philip’s ties to UW Oshkosh are many. Not only does she attend her hometown four-year institution, her father George Philip, Ph.D., is a professor of information systems in the UW Oshkosh College of Business.

Philip, 20, said she enjoys sharing the story of her life and educational journey when she gets the chance to speak to young people.

Her platform – “Adoption: The Option of Hope” – is directly related to her personal story. Her parents, who hail from India, came to the U.S. but returned to adopt her from an orphanage as an infant. Philip was raised in Oshkosh.

“It’s really awesome being able to tell (young people) how I even got to be here in Wisconsin and especially at UW Oshkosh,” she said.

Philip is currently taking general education courses at UW Oshkosh with hopes of using them to propel her into further education at Columbia College, a private school where she’ll pursue a degree and career in the music and entertainment industries. She said her education at UW Oshkosh has opened her eyes to a number of other fields and career pursuits that could intersect with her specific passion.

“I’m finding a lot of different interests I have,” Philip said. “I took a creative writing course and also a psychology course in criminal justice. I’m somebody who wants to do so many things, so I hope to not just pursue music.”

Past Miss Oshkosh winners (since ’04) who are UW Oshkosh Titans

  • 2011    Kelsey McDaniels ’11
  • 2010    Shawna Pawlowicz ’09
  • 2009    Chelsea Hammett, UWO junior
  • 2008    Tosha Herrman ’09
  • 2007    Desiree Geffers, ’10
  • 2006    Janelle Larie ’10
  • 2005    Jantira Thomas ’07
  • 2004    Jenna (Poeschl) Erdman ’07

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