UMW senior Amanda Lynn Short rocked a shimmering black and gold dress in the Miss Virginia evening-wear segment.
She sported a lacy cropped top for her talent, ukulele and vocals to Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love. And the pale yellow number she wore in the swimsuit competition? Oh, my.
She’s got the beauty, talent and brains, but for this psychology and philosophy major, it’s the platform that makes pageantry personal. Thanks to a childhood incident, human trafficking hits closer to home for Short than viewers might have imagined when she answered her interview question onstage. And with the help of Mary Washington’s pre-law program, she plans to take her passion to the courtroom, where she’ll fight this terrible crime as an attorney.
“That was almost me,” said Short, recounting her experience as a 9-year-old girl, when two women nearly snatched her during a trip to her mother’s native Philippines. “By the grace of God, my mom screamed my name and I ran.” The family learned later that during their trip, a pair suspected of human trafficking had been detained.
“In 2016, there were 148 crimes of human trafficking that were reported. Fifty-nine of those crimes were reported against minors,” Short told the host of the Miss Virginia Pageant, held in Roanoke and livestreamed online. “It’s time for Virginia to take a stand and say ‘no’ to human trafficking. There’s no reason why we are waiting to solve this issue.”
A graduate of King George High School, Short fell for the beautiful campus, small class sizes and serious vibe at Mary Washington, where she’s president of the Commuter Student Association and a cheerleading captain. She carries an 18-credit course load, interns with the Charles B. Roberts law firm in Fredericksburg and works at a bridal boutique in Spotsylvania County.
“I’ve always been a busy lady,” said Short, who recently took the LSAT and hopes to get into a Virginia law school. “I try to be involved as much as possible.”
She was still a teenager when she entered her first pageant in the King George Fall Festival, placing among the top five and claiming the crown the following year. She won the Miss Hanover title in January and wore that sash in the Virginia pageant in Roanoke. She didn’t make the final round but won a $500 scholarship for her volunteer work with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and her knowledge of Virginia’s human trafficking laws.
“Of course, it’s super disappointing not to make Top 11,” she said. “One goal of mine from last year was to be a lot more prepared and confident coming into this year, and I definitely achieved that.”
Short hasn’t been back to the Philippines since her narrow brush with the cause she now champions, but she hopes to return someday to see relatives. For now, she’s fighting for Virginia, the state with the seventh highest human trafficking rate in the U.S. and the last to pass legislation to stop it.
“Our state is not adequately preparing our youth to be aware of such dangers,” she said. “That’s why I feel I must advocate this issue.”
Watch the livestream of all three of the 2017 Miss Virginia Pageant evening competitions.