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by Nikki Best
The days are long, but the year is short. Three months into her year of service as Miss South Carolina, Pawleys Island native Suzi Roberts returned from two weeks in Atlantic City and her chance at Miss America.
“I just got back into town and officially back to work,” Roberts said on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to unpack from those crazy two weeks.” She didn’t win the title, but she did break into the top 10, won more than $20,000 in scholarship money (more than $90,000 total) and came away with a new view on life.
“Once you’ve been around 50 other women for two weeks with that mindset, you feel unstoppable,” she said. Roberts described the “mindset” as one of an empowered, intelligent, independent, goal-oriented driven woman. “You learn so much about what else is out there and just how capable you are of changing the world.”
Roberts wants to change the world and always takes the opportunity when she can. Last year as Miss Columbia, she had the opportunity to testify on behalf of a child advocacy bill before the S.C. Senate Judiciary Committee. “It was my opportunity to show that just because I have on a crown doesn’t mean that this is all fake,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to win over those legislators and a bunch of Family Court judges, and since then I’ve had their ear.”
Her dedication to knowing what she wanted to say in that situation was like the preparation she does for an interview portion of a pageant. “That’s really where the pageant is won,” Roberts said. But it’s all public speaking, and Roberts has become an expert in the field. “The more that I’m in this job I learn what’s most important to tell people and what people are most interested to hear and that sort of thing, and so it does get easier to communicate,” she said. “After speaking on the Miss America stage, no audience is scary after that.”
The experience of Miss America was life-changing for Roberts, and she wants to help bring that feeling to other girls who compete. “Obviously I’m really excited to promote my personal platform, but one of the things I really want to do this year is to grow the organization on the state level,” she said. “I want them to understand and learn everything that I was able to learn by going to Miss America.”
While Roberts wishes she could work with every contestant one-on-one, it would be impossible with the demands of Miss South Carolina, so she’ll settle for being able to speak to them every chance she gets. “I think it all has to do with teaching them how to go about the process of competing so you can gain everything that there is to gain from the opportunity.”
There were 45 contestants in Miss South Carolina this year. “The numbers have been low all over the country in the past couple of years and that’s something that I plan on changing,” Roberts said. She was disappointed in the lack of pageants available in the Lowcountry. “That’s one thing I definitely want to change.”
Along with encouraging girls to compete in the pageants, Roberts will continue to work on her personal platform of child advocacy. “My goal is to be a social justice advocate, a social justice attorney eventually,” she said. She will pursue a dual degree program at University of South Carolina next fall in law and public administration or social work.
Organizations can book Miss South Carolina by contacting her manager, Shannon Copes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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