CCAC Professor Named Ms. Pennsylvania Plus America 2016
Dec 01, 2016 07:41AM
● By Clare Heekin Lynch
A plus-size professor of computer science may not seem like your typical pageant winner, but one Pittsburgh woman has the crown to prove it. Earlier this year, Bilita McIntosh was crowned Ms. Pennsylvania American Beauties Plus, an experience that she says has changed her life forever.
“Winning this title has opened my eyes to what I can do,” she shared. “Doors have been opened for me, and I can now do things I never thought I would be able to do. I have always had my faith and beliefs, and I have always wanted to do something to help serve my community, and now I really can!”
Pageantry was never at the forefront of McIntosh’s mind. As an adjunct faculty member of Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), the instructor spends her days teaching computer science to students of all ages and backgrounds. As a side passion, she models plus-sized clothing at a local boutique, which is where she first learned of the Ms. Pennsylvania Plus American competition.
“The store owner encouraged me to try for it, and I figured that it would be a new challenge and a great experience,” McIntosh explained.
With the support of family and friends, she brought home not only the title and crown, but the passion to continue to show others that intelligence is beautiful. “With all of the negative things going on in our society today, I found a venue where I can encourage and promote education,” she said. “You can be both beautiful and smart, and if you have character and integrity to go along with that, it will exude from the inside out. THAT is what makes you beautiful.”
In early October, McIntosh competed for the title of Miss American Beauties Plus Elite Queen at the national pageant in Atlanta, where she won second-runner up. “American Beauties Plus is not your typical pageant,” said Pageant Director Angela Howell. “We are a nationally recognized, platform-based pageant that is committed to promoting full-figured women of all ages, races and backgrounds. These women have distinguished themselves through leadership, education, the arts, volunteerism, cultural involvement and advocacy.”
It is this inclusive approach and the strong sense of community that is more valuable to McIntosh than winning the crown. “I was exposed to women from all across the country who were curvy, smart and extremely confident,” she said. “I was so impressed by the sisterhood and overall positivity that overflowed from everyone involved. Everyone was so supportive of each other and very caring. It was not just an individual journey, but a journey that we were all taking together.”
McIntosh lives life to the fullest and draws inspiration from her beliefs. “Faith drives me, and the belief that God put me here for a purpose is what keeps me going every single day,” she said. “It wasn’t an accident that I started modeling and it wasn’t an accident that I was awarded the Ms. Pennsylvania Plus America title on my first experience.
“I truly believe that I won so that I could have a bigger platform to help reach and inspire more people,” she added. “I want to give others hope because that’s what was given to me. My mom raised three girls by herself and instilled in us the right values. She encouraged us to positively influence not only our lives, but others as well.”
And McIntosh does this, one day at a time. “Along with my support group, my employer, CCAC, has helped mold and shape me into a professional and a socially conscious member of society,” she said. “I hope that my students see that if I can reach my dreams and goals, than they can as well.”