By Gigi Jeddi | The Duquesne Duke
A Duquesne graduate, recalled by her professors as a “top student,” represented Pennsylvania at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City earlier this month.
Ashley Schmider, 23, of Pittsburgh, graduated from Duquesne in 2013 with a degree in economics. She competed in pageants throughout college, then took a year off from competition after graduation. After placing second in the Miss Pennsylvania competition two years in a row, Schmider wanted to try one last time while she was still eligible.
“This was my last chance before I aged out,” Schmider explained. “You age out at 24 years old.”
After being crowned Miss Pennsylvania in June, Schmider had three months to prepare for the national competition. Although she did not make the cut to semi-finalist in the Miss America pageant, she said the experience was “unforgettable, amazing” and helped her develop skills that she will use later in life.
“It’s really about keeping your focus,” Schmider said, adding that she practiced her talent, tap dancing, for three hours every day to prepare for the national competition.
The former economics major showed a similar focus and dedication during her time at Duquesne, according to professors who taught her.
Antony Davies, an Associate Professor of Economics, had Schmider in his intermediate and advanced econometrics courses.
“She stood out from the start as a top student,” Davies said. “One can tell top students immediately – they ask lots of questions.”
Audrey Guskey, an associate professor of marketing, called Schmider “an amazing student” who “always got the highest grades, and was very serious.”
In addition to doing well in classes, Schmider became involved with the group Strong Women, Strong Girls on campus. She served as a mentor for young women in Pittsburgh during her four years in school, and now uses her role as Miss Pennsylvania to draw attention to the program.
“It’s just such a good organization,” Schmider said. “I’d say my real goal [with pageants] is to support my philanthropy, and I continue to stay involved.”
In addition to SWSG, Schmider is active in raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, which is dedicated to helping in hospitals where children are in need.
“It’s that Duquesne attitude of being people that serve,” Schmider said of her philanthropy work.
In addition to her work with the Miss America Organization, Schmider works for the accounting firm KPMG and plans to earn her MBA within the next few years.