The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Miss PA Doesn’t Like “The F-Word”

Photo courtesy of Raeanne Raccagno

Bucks County Community College starts off Women’s History Month by hosting 2022 Miss Pennsylvania Alysa Bainbridge on her current school tour where she educates students about mental health, suicide prevention and substance use disorder.

Dr. Rodney Altemose, the interim associate vice president of student affairs at Bucks, invited Bainbridge to the college on March 9 as she completes her “More Than” campaign, where she talks about mental health, suicide prevention, and addiction.

The two are familiar with each other due to Altemose being one of the judges for Miss Pennsylvania in 2019.

When putting together an event for Women’s History Month, Bainbridge came to mind because “She is so relatable and really rose to the top of the list. I think it is important to find a woman who is relatable for students to be able to connect with,” Altemose illustrates.

Bainbridge is a Berks County native and the 2022 winner of Miss Pennsylvania. Since receiving her crown on June 18, Bainbridge has been busy serving the state as she continues to advocate for mental health awareness.

Becoming Miss Pennsylvania was Bainbridge’s dream since she was 9 years old when she first met Miss Pennsylvania herself. However, earning her crown was not an easy task. “It took me four tries to become Miss Pennsylvania, but I persisted and achieved my dream” Bainbridge informed the audience.

“I don’t like the F word [failure]. Use those drawbacks to make you better. That’s what I did every year with Miss Pennsylvania. I took a step back and thought ‘What can I do better next year?’”

Being involved with the Miss America pageant also means having a social impact initiative that a contestant is required to champion. “I immediately knew what my platform was going to be and that was mental health awareness. Later on, I incorporated substance use disorder awareness,” Bainbridge explains.

Bainbridge’s older brother, Tyler, battled bipolar disorder his whole life but was not diagnosed until he was 18 years old. Due to his mental health struggles, Tyler developed an opioid addiction which led to his overdose in 2018. This was the inspiration behind Bainbridge’s advocacy for substance use disorder.

“The reason why I have a platform for mental health and addiction is that the two are connected. I want to highlight the difference between the two, and my brother’s lack of mental health treatment and not getting early mental health intervention.”

“I know the dark parts of mental illness and it’s not something I’m scared to talk about or share. I hope that by using this position and talking about these things I can help break down the stigma and let people know there is no shame in talking about it.”

Along with her “More Than” project, Bainbridge also founded a non-profit organization called Tyler’s Triumph in honor of her brother.

Tyler’s Triumph focuses on the groundwork that directly supports those recovering from a substance use disorder by getting them the resources they need such as raising funds that supports scholarships for recovery homes, schools, and more.

The program also does a lot of education about the stigma of addiction. “I hope that one day Tyler’s Triumph can become national rather than just statewide. Another long-term goal would be opening recovery houses across the nation,” Bainbridge shared.

Bainbridge will help crown the new 2023 Miss Pennsylvania in June. Until then she will continue with her school tour, meeting with state legislatures and advocating for mental health and addiction.

She will also start incorporating a presentation at the Miss Pennsylvania orientation that educates young women about the toll of being in pageants and how to take care of themselves. After Bainbridge exits the pageant world, she hopes to work in the Philadelphia news industry as a TV news anchor.