Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Miss Delaware USA 2019’s passion for tech and horticulture bloom together

Jolisa Copeman, an aspiring sustainable urban development designer, heads to the Miss USA pageant this spring.

Jolisa Copeman, current Miss Delaware USA, surrounded by garden blueprints.

(Photo by Casey Orlosky)

Growing up on a lake in the Poconos, Jolisa Copeman was an outdoorsy kid who spent her days riding bikes, hiking or skiing, depending on how the weather was outside.

“I was such a tomboy, if someone would have told me ten years ago I would be doing pageants, I would have been like… no,” she said with a laugh.

In November, Copeman was crowned Miss Delaware USA in only her second pageant ever. After completing her Master’s degree from University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship program last May, she decided it was a good time to give it her all and see how far she could go in the Miss USA pageant, the winner of which ultimately competes in the international Miss Universe pageant.

“It’s a very transitional year for me, and I wanted to elevate myself,” Copeman said of her decision to try for the title. “I’m just working on myself this year.”

During her time in the Horn Entrepreneurship program, Copeman helped create the catering business Krys’ Soul Kreations with cofounder Krystal Price. “That was fun – I did a lot on the back end and she did the product work. It’s still up and running,” she said.

Copeman herself has moved toward her own passions – the environment, nature, and design.

“My long term goals have always been to work at a design firm that promotes sustainable design in urban development,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in connecting nature to urban places.”

That led her to Copeman earning her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at the University of Delaware. “Near the end of my last year I took Landscape Design, and I knew that was it,” she said.

Miss Delaware USA being crowned

Jolisa Copeman, crowned Nov. 18, 2018. (Photo by Shakira Hunt Photography)

Her professor, Jules Bruck, introduced her to Horn. “I was just missing the business aspect,” she said. “Now, with my M.S., I have an education science, business and design.”


Soon after graduating last May, she began an internship at one of the world’s top horticultural sites – Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. “It’s a yearlong internship, 40 hours a week,” she said. “I prepare the blueprints for them use to install the interior gardens.” Although, as an intern, she isn’t doing the designing herself, the position is a perfect stepping stone into urban horticultural design, as it keeps her tech skills – especially design software AutoCAD – sharp.

The same passion that led her to Longwood guided her to her Miss Delaware USA platform: Seed Your Future, an organization committed to educating youth on career opportunities in field of horticulture.

“As a member of the youth engagement committee for Seed Your Future, I do a lot of presentations to kids at different public schools,” she said.


And, of course, she’s also preparing for Miss USA, which will be held in May or June. “[Horn Entrepreneurship] really helped. You work on multiple projects, and every week you’re presenting a project and getting eaten alive,” she said with a laugh.” You have to have tough skin, but it prepares you for the real world.”

“Pitching is hard,” she added. But then, Miss Delaware USA seems up for any challenge.

You can follow Copeman’s Miss USA journey on the Miss Delaware USA Twitter.

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