MANCHESTER - Most teenagers spend their spare time playing a sport, doing homework and socializing with friends. Not Hannah Brewer.
The 15-year-old Manchester resident welcomes soldiers home from Afghanistan, lobbies in Washington, D.C., with the American Heart Association and sings the national anthem at various events. She does all this while completing her school work, being home-schooled and still has time to practice her pageant walk, go to the gym every day and is looking to start her own nonprofit organization.
These responsibilities are only going to grow. Hannah was recently crowned this year's Miss Maryland Teen USA and will be headed to the Bahamas in July to compete in the national pageant.
"It is really, really cool," Hannah said, "I've never been to the Bahamas before."
After watching her sister, Nicole Brewer, compete in the Miss America competition as Miss Pennsylvania, Hannah decided she wanted to be a part of pageants, too. Hannah was 8 years old at the time and couldn't wait to get her chance.
Her mother, Heidi Brewer, said Hannah was ready to be Miss America after watching her sister, but wouldn't let her compete until she was eligible for the teen pageant at age 13. Heidi says she will always support Hannah in her ambitions.
"It wouldn't be what I would've chosen," Heidi said, "but she chose and it was, 'how can we support her to be the best she can be in this situation?'"
Bill Dell, Hannah's father, is proud of his daughter's accomplishments and says he is behind her no matter what she wants to do.
"I've got to hand it to her, she blows my mind," he said. "She stays pretty grounded through all of this ... she's just so sincere. It's fun to watch sometimes."
This is not Hannah's first time competing in a pageant. She was part of the Miss America organization for three years, competing and winning several regional titles. Her past titles are Miss Mason Dixon's Outstanding Teen 2010, Miss Appalachia's Outstanding Teen 2011, Miss Queen State's Outstanding Teen 2012. This year, she decided to try her luck with the Miss Universe organization, which is the umbrella organization for the Miss USA program.
"I'd always wanted to do this organization, but I was never really sure if I was ready," Hannah said. "They look for sort of an older-looking girl, and it's very glamorous. I wanted as much experience as possible before I decided to compete."
In her first time in the Miss Maryland Teen USA competition, Hannah was just looking to make the top five. When she achieved that goal, she just expected to be named a runner-up. As the judges called out each runner-up, Hannah thought her name was going to be called, but it wasn't.
Finally it was only herself and one other girl left on the stage, holding hands, waiting, knowing one of them was going to be given the crown and sash she would wear proudly for the next year.
As the first runner-up was called, Hannah stood on the stage in shock.
"I stood there, started crying and put my hands to my face," Hannah said. "I've been dreaming of this for so long, that I can't even imagine that it's really happening to me. ... And it's not just the win or the crown that's really great, but I've now got a family that I'm always with."
Hannah said when they put the crown on her head she started crying like "the typical pageant girl" because she had put so much of herself into the competition.
"When you've worked so hard for something, and you've finally made it ... you just feel like crying because you finally did it," she said.
Now that she has won the title, her crown and sash are the only requirements for when Hannah is making an appearance, luckily they are both very easy to put on over any hairstyle or outfit.
"Hannah is the type that the minute we go somewhere if there's any little girls there, [the crown is] off Hannah's head and on theirs," Heidi said.
Even without her title and requirements, Hannah would continue to do community service because she loves it, Dell said.
"She truly loves to do it and you can just see it in her face," he said.Deborah Wright, Hannah's coach and mentor, owns a pageant and image consulting business called First Impression Coaching.
She met Hannah about three years ago when the teen contacted her for coaching for her very first pageant, Miss Teen Maryland International. Wright worked with Hannah on everything from interview preparation to how to do her "pageant hair."
"When we first started working together, Hannah truly had no idea what it was to be a pageant contestant," the former Miss Delaware USA, Mrs. Galaxy International, Mrs. Pennsylvania International and Mrs. Maryland International title holder wrote in an email. "For [her first pageant] in particular, we worked on wardrobe selection and most of all walking and stage presence. And she did what I taught her, and she looked amazing on stage."
Wright said Hannah is always out making appearances and puts pageant girls in a positive light.
"There is no doubt in my mind that she will truly be one of the most hard working and accomplished young women to ever hold the title," Wright wrote in an email. "There is no other contestant that I am coaching currently that works as hard as Hannah. She truly deserves this title and deserves to do well at the national pageant."
Reach staff writer Samantha Madison at 410-857-7892 or email@example.com