Miss Delaware: Volunteerism crusade is Brooke’s crowning glory

SELBYVILLE — On the evening of Saturday, June 11, 20-year-old Brooke Mitchell will pass the baton and crown Miss Delaware 2016.

Her reign as Miss Delaware 2015 will officially end.

It has been a jet-setting year. By the time she relinquishes the title Ms. Mitchell will have made more than 300 appearances statewide.

“I actually just hit 300,” she said. “Hopefully by the time Miss Delaware ends I’ll be at 350. That is my goal.”

Along the way she will have addressed thousands of Delawareans, many of them students on the importance of volunteerism.

“That is my platform,” said Ms. Mitchell.

Q&A Brooke Mitchell Miss Del 2015

Miss Delaware 2015, Brooke Mitchell

When not on the appearance trail, Ms. Mitchell works at Fox’s Pizza Den Bayside.

Ms. Mitchell has several direct ties to Sussex County. She resides in Selbyville, lived previously in Dagsboro and represented Milford as Miss Milford at the 2015 Miss Delaware pageant.

With less a month of her reign remaining, here is Brooke Mitchell, Miss Delaware 2015:

How about your immediate family?

“I have a little brother, Isaac. He is 16. And my mom is Sandy Mitchell.”

How about education, past, present and future?

“I went to Indian River for three years and transferred to Sussex Central my senior year. I was at Del Tech for a year. Next year I will be at UD, University of Delaware. I am still in elementary education. They are trying to get me into marketing so I am looking a little bit into that but for now it’s elementary education.”

Has your year as Miss Delaware been what you envisioned?

“It’s been very similar. I’ve been watching the Miss Delaware pageant since I was 6 years old, so I followed Miss Delaware around for years. I kind of was already doing some of the things Miss Delaware had been doing. And a lot of things Miss Delaware does is volunteer.”

“I kind of envisioned what it would be like to win Miss Delaware because I had been following them around for so long and they were kind of my role models. It has been very fulfilling for me. It has been a great dream come true for me because it has been so long that I wanted it.”

Has this year changed you in anyway?

“It has in many, many ways. First of all, I now have scholarship money so that it is going to allow me to further my education. I have close to $20,000 from just the two years competing in Miss Delaware and Miss America.”

“I have been able to promote volunteerism throughout the state, which has been awesome for me. I started volunteering at age six. Getting to share that passion with kids today in schools and appearances as Miss Delaware has been a great thing for me to do. It is something I have always wanted to do and being Miss Delaware has allowed me to do that across the state.”

In essence, you made a one-year sacrifice to serve as Miss Delaware?

“In some ways, yes. I had to take a year off from school. I am now a year behind from all of my classmates. In my opinion that’s OK. I would say sacrificing a year is OK if you get $20,000 in scholarship money. Also it has been very difficult for me to hold a job. Miss Delaware does not get paid that much so I had to work. And that has been OK for me. My boss at Fox’s Pizza has been very great working with my schedule.”

“I have some days where I can’t always go out with my friends, or I can’t always do the movie night this day because I have appearances. But in my opinion I love that because that is what I wanted to do. And it is only for a year. So I said at the beginning of the year, I would never turn down an opportunity. I would never turn down an appearance. I would never turn down a child that wants to get a picture with me. That is this job and that i wanted for so long.”

Have you logged your travel miles?

“I have not kept track; I am working on that … before I end my journey. I drive a Mazda 3. Actually right before Miss Delaware 2015, literally the week before I totaled my car. My first month of appearances were borrowing my director’s car, borrowing my mom’s car. That was quite a process. My directors were great and they found me a car. So I have been driving a Mazda 3 around. I know I have at least put 20,000 miles on it. I’m sure it’s more than that.”

Appearances probably have taken you all over the state?

“I’ve been to random towns I did not even know existed in Delaware. I’ve been everywhere. Sometimes I’d have three appearances in one day. That is the cool thing about Delaware. We’re so small but that just means that Miss Delaware is busy. Like for example Miss Texas, she might have a six-hour drive to her appearance so that’s all she has that day. I like a small state. You can get more done in a day.”

Have you accomplished your volunteer mission?

“I have been to more than 50 schools. My goal at the beginning of the year was to visit every single one. That did not happen. Unfortunately, we had a little bit of trouble partnering with the Department of Education.”

“What I do with the younger kids is I have each of them do a cutout of a handprint. They write their name on it and they write a volunteer opportunity that they think they can be involved in. I think that is really cool for them to see at such a young age that they can think about volunteering opportunities and they can think about how they can be involved in their community.”

“With the older kids, high school and upper middle school I talk to them about the volunteering credit for high school. Each student in the state of Delaware has the opportunity to achieve one high school credit through volunteering. They don’t have to go to a class for that credit.”

“I’ve been able to do a lot through the State Office of Volunteerism. I partnered with them this year and they have been great. They have given me a lot of information. I’ve been able to do a lot of appearances with them.”

Is there a most memorable moment?

“My favorite appearance was actually around Christmas time. I was lucky enough to three, day visits with the state police. I did one in Sussex County, one in in Kent and one in New Castle. The one in New Castle we actually went to A.I. duPont (Children’s Hospital) and that was their only visit all day. There were probably 20 police officers there in uniform and there were I want to say 10 more in character outfits. We had Santa Claus, Ms. Claus, Olaf, Dora, the Ninja Turtle – and me.

“The most memorable part of that day was when I got to walk around the upper floors of the hospital and I got to see the kids that were not able to leave their rooms. I got to visit them and give them their teddy bear and their gingerbread house they couldn’t craft downstairs. Getting to see them for five minutes really changed their day. When they smile you know it is really worth it.”

How about a funny or humorous chapter?

“I actually had to do a pie-eating contest, at Dover Days. I cannot finish a pie in a day, let alone in 30 seconds. It was funny because the people right next to me, they were the first runner-up and the winner. And I was like last place. That was an interesting day.”

So what looms over the horizon?

“I’ll be in school, at the University of Delaware. They are trying to get me to run PR, social media for Miss Delaware after I give up my title. So I could possibly be on the board, too. It is weird for me to think about it because I am 20 and the contestants go up to age 24. So I could possibly have direction over people that are older than me. I think it would be fun for me to do that. I would be a volunteer. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll definitely be around.”

And what might Miss Delaware 2015 be doing in say 10 or 15 years from now?

“I plan to stay right here in Delaware. Hopefully, I will be teaching. I like little old Delaware. You might see me at the top of the state rather than the bottom. Who knows?”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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