This story is from the March 2020 edition of The GēDUNK, the Grove City College alumni magazine, which is available online here.
Tiffany Seitz ’17 wasn’t expected to live past age one, but in December, the healthy 24-year-old with an Entrepreneurship degree from Grove City College competed in Miss America 2.0. She didn’t win the title, but the platform allowed her to advance a cause that is very close to her heart: Foster care and adoption.
For Seitz, it is personal. She was born addicted to cocaine. Doctors thought she might not survive and, if she did, would have permanent damage. “Obviously a child in that type of condition would be in the NICU getting treatment, but sadly that wasn’t the case for me,” Seitz told PEOPLE magazine for a December 2019 article that promoted her pageant priority.
Her birth mother couldn’t provide her medical care that she desperately needed, but, by the grace of God and through the Holy Family Institute, Tiffany found a foster family within months of her birth with Lori and Len Seitz, who had already fostered three boys through high school. Lori decided to leave her job as a nurse and care for Tiffany full time. In 1998, when Tiffany was two-and-a-half, the family adopted her. She was homeschooled by Lori through fifth grade and went on to graduate from Evangel Heights Christian Academy in Buffalo Township, Pa. in 2013.
“I’m so grateful that my parents have given me so much, opportunities that I wouldn’t have had had it not been for the gift of adoption,” she said.
After graduating high school, Seitz attend Grove City College from 2013-2017. She began as a Communication Studies major but switched to Entrepreneurship major after taking a Principles of Marketing class which piqued her interest in business. She decided to keep a Communication Studies minor and noticed the merit in how the two fields work together well. “Looking at where I am now in my role as Miss Pennsylvania, I couldn't be happier that I decided to keep the two of them together after all,” Seitz said. “I use the skills, tools and strategies taught to me in these two disciplines on a daily basis and I'm so glad that I get to share the things that I've learned with others.”
While in college, Seitz held leadership roles in Orchesis, Spring Dance Company and theater. “Those leadership skills allowed me to exercise and develop my leadership abilities in order to be able to use them efficiently for post-graduate opportunities such as serving as Miss Pennsylvania,” she said.
Tiffany grew up in the dance world, but pageants were not part of her life until an acquaintance at Grove City College suggested she enter one that was looking for contestants. Soon she won a local contest to represent the Butler County, Pa., region in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, which she won in 2019, earning a ticket to the national Miss America contest. With the much-criticized swimsuit competition removed, there was more room in the event for participants to talk about the way they can make an impact on society. Tiffany chose to share her story and launched the initiative: “Adoption Advocacy — Restoring Hope, Transforming Lives.”
Seitz’s work on the issue earned recognition during media coverage of the Miss America pageant last year. This fall she received the Art J. Rooney Courage House Award through the Holy Family Institute, alongside the current Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back James Conner.
“If it weren’t for the Holy Family Institute, I wouldn’t be here today,” Seitz said. “Adoption might be an unconventional way to start a family, but it’s not an invalid way to start a family. And my family is living proof of that,” she said.
She continues to serve the commonwealth as Miss Pennsylvania until she helps crowns her successor in June. Some of the ways she has already served her community include co-emceeing the Cheer-Off For Children with Adoptions From The Heart in Pittsburgh, volunteering for back-to-school event with Blessings Foster Care, volunteering with Milton Hershey School and giving a keynote speech at the Children's Home of York’s 154th Annual Meeting and at TRAC Family Services Pearls and Purpose Program.
“When I was born, I was given a two-week life expectancy and doctors didn't see me making it to my first birthday. Twenty-four years later, it's amazing that I'm here to tell the story of the miracle that my life has proved to be, all thanks to God and His ever-present hand in my life,” she said. “500,000 children across America reside in foster care and are waiting to be placed in forever homes. My greatest gift as Miss Pennsylvania this year has been sharing my personal adoption story to educate, encourage, and inspire.”