Miss Georgia winner announced, reflects on pandemic year in exclusive interview

Georgia News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Miss University of Georgia Karson Pennington has earned the job of serving as Miss Georgia 2021. 

The Augusta, Ga. native received her Miss University of Georgia title in January of 2020 and had a year and a half of preparation before earning her title as Miss Georgia.

She will serve as an ambassador for the state of Georgia in the Miss America program.

Her social impact initiative is “ROAR: Reach Out and Read.” The program focuses on reaching families through medical offices of pediatric doctors to teach parents to read aloud to children in hopes of improving literacy throughout the state.

She believes by fighting the cycle of illiteracy with three plans of action;

  1. Demonstrating reading is crucial for future successes,
  2. Educating parents on the benefits of strong reading skills,
  3. Providing free books and digital resources to those in need.

Pennington will be entering the classroom and taking a hands on approach of reaching the average Georgian reader.

Although, she will not be alone in this endeavor. Her mascot Lucky the lion will help her along the way.

In an exclusive interview with WRBL, she gave insight on the long-anticipated competition.

“We definitely did not anticipate having to move the competition back an entire year so instead of spending an entire year of preparation I’ve had about a year and a half to prepare,” said Pennington.

This postponement allowed more girls to compete and they checked in with each other often.

Pennington felt that being able to meet with the other Miss Georgia candidates in the Miss Georgia Gives Back Program got her through the postponement and the week leading up to the competition.

“I am honestly so honored to be able to stand next to every woman that has been crowned Miss Georgia in the past and to be one of them now. I have looked up to them since I was a child and I can’t believe I’m one of them,” Pennington said of her new position. “And I’m more than excited to represent the State of Georgia for an entire year and definitely at the Miss America Competition.”

She also told News 3 that she will use her scholarship awards to obtain her doctorate with goals of becoming a professor of American Government and continue her personal research as a judiciary.

Now that she has locked down the job of Miss Georgia, Pennington will begin preparations to compete for the job of Miss America, which will take place at the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut. Dates have yet to be set.

She will also be participating Labor Day Weekend in the 100th Anniversary of the Miss America Organization. 

The candidates who complete the Top Five Finalists are:

1st Runner-up and the winner of a $5,000 Scholarship:  Miss Rome Rosa Campos

2nd Runner-up and the winner of a $2,500 Scholarship: Miss Warner Roberts Olivia McMillan 

3rd Runner-up and the winner of a $2,000 Scholarship:  Miss Cobb County Holly Haynes

4th Runner-up and the winner of a $1,000 Scholarship:  Miss Southeast Georgia Allie Griffis

The evening started with the Top 15, which each received a $500 scholarship. The candidates 6 through 15 are (in no specific order):

Miss Starr’s Mill Erin Rogers

Miss Amicalola Falls Sallie Stowers

Miss Southern Rivers Lyndsay Richardson 

Miss Coastal Empire Rachel Thompson

Miss Albany Jilian Hanna

Miss Fayette County Jasmyn Cornell

Miss Macon Michaela Heide

Miss Troup County Ansleigh Williams

Miss Gwinnett County Taylor Burrell

Miss Northwest Georgia A’Leah Burrell

The following recognitions also were presented:

Non-Finalist $250 Scholarship Award for Evening Wear/On-Stage Interview Questions

Miss Flint River Miranda Moore

Miss Harris County Kaleigh Griswell

Miss Greater Atlanta Lauren Hunter

Non-Finalist $250 Scholarship Award for Talent

Miss Cherokee Rose Carley Vogel 

Miss Fulton County Grace Gebara

Miss Hamilton on the Square Camille Tyler

The Shelby and Wanda Amos Foundation sponsored the following awards presented at the annual Farewell Luncheon that took place on Thursday:

Miss Congeniality Award: Miss Flint River Miranda Moore

Miss Legal Georgia Studies: Miss University of Georgia Karson Pennington

Floreida Harrell Performing Arts: Miss Warner Robins Olivia McMillan

Bob Ritchie Photogenic Award: Miss Greater Columbus Allison Molnar 

Miss Hostess Award: Miss Empire of the South Hannah Conway

Miss Georgia Medical Studies Award: Miss Southeast Georgia Allie Griffis

The Spirit of Miss Georgia:  Miss Southeast Georgia Allie Griffis

Miss Georgia Educational Studies Award: Miss Southern Rivers Lyndsay Richardson 

Miss Georgia Women in Business Award: Miss Cobb County Holly Haynes

Shelby and Wanda Amos STEM Award: Miss Flint River Miranda Moore

First Night Preliminary Results:

Miss Georgia Talent Award $300 Scholarship Award: Rosa Campos, Miss Rome, Hometown: Buford, Ga. 
Miss Georgia On-Stage Question and Social Impact Initiative Pitch $300 Scholarship Award: Olivia McMillan, Miss Warner Robins, Hometown: Centerville, Ga.

Second Night Preliminary Results:

Miss Georgia Talent $300 Scholarship $300 Scholarship Award: Carley Vogel, Miss Cherokee Rose, Hometown: Kennesaw, Ga.
Miss Georgia On-Stage Question and Social Impact Initiative Pitch $300 Scholarship Award: Rosa Campos, Miss Rome, Hometown: Buford, Ga.

Third Night Preliminary Results:

Miss Georgia Talent $300 Scholarship Award: Olivia McMillan, Miss Warner Robins, Hometown: Centerville, Ga.
Miss Georgia On-Stage Question and Social Impact Initiative Pitch $300 Scholarship Award: Karson Pennington, Miss University of Georgia, Hometown: Augusta, Ga.

With the completion of the 76th Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Ga., more than $53,000 in scholarship funds were awarded to 72 candidates from across Georgia.

“Tomorrow, we will begin to prepare our new Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen to compete at their individual national competitions and support them in every way. Additionally, plans begin now for the 2022 Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition,” shared Trina Pruitt, CEO/Executive Director of the Miss Georgia Scholarship Organization. “With teamwork we managed to execute a great event. We thank each and every person that contributed to this year’s success and look forward to seeing everyone next year in Columbus.”

The Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition is a non-profit organization that awards scholarships to outstanding young women to help advance them academically and professionally. The Miss Georgia Scholarship Organization is headquartered in LaGrange, Ga. For more information and to consider becoming a sponsor or donor, please visit www.missgeorgia.net.

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