By the time you read this, Julia Herrin of Bluffton will be finishing up her preparation and packing for what might be the most exciting trip of her young life. Herrin is heading to Uncasville, Conn.
What’s so exciting in Uncasville, Conn., you ask?
It’s the location for the 100th iteration of the Miss America Competition, which will be held Dec. 10-16, with the final broadcast Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. via Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.
But Herrin is not going just to watch the event.
When she arrives, she will be better known as Miss South Carolina, and she will be competing with 50 other young women from across the nation for the crown and title of Miss America.
Herrin won the Miss South Carolina June 26 in Columbia, and has been traveling the state since then with her message of empowerment for young people, #RealNotPerfect. Herrin uses the platform to encourage young people to use social media in a positive way, to build self-esteem, and be a catalyst for change.
Before she got too busy packing for her trip, Herrin attended a send-off party Nov. 21, hosted by the membership committee at the South Carolina Yacht Club in Windmill Harbour. The event was attended by fans, friends, and her family as well as officials with the Miss South Carolina organization.
Herrin gave a speech about her platform, played a piece on the grand piano set up on the balcony, and spoke with anyone who wanted to chat.
Herrin said she was emotional that entire day.
“It meant so much to me that all of those people there believed in me, and were there to support me,” Herrin said. “I have always dreamed of being Miss America, but it is people believing that I am capable that made that dream a possible reality.”
When asked what gives her butterflies about the whole Miss America experience, she said, “I get butterflies thinking about the fact that only 83 women before me have had the honor of representing South Carolina at Miss America! The most exciting part is knowing that the message of #RealNotPerfect will be broadcast to a national audience, and that hopefully someone who hears the message of #RealNotPerfect will be impacted.”
For the record, only two Miss South Carolina contestants have won the Miss America crown.
Being a part of a milestone for the Miss America Competition is “monumental,” Herrin said, “because we are able to recognize our past, and look forward to the next 100 years of Miss America! 100 years of tradition have preceded this moment, and to make my mark on the history of this organization this year is so humbling!”
Through all the excitement, Herrin said she keeps calm by remember her favorite Bible verse, Esther 4:14, which reads, “Perhaps you were made for such a time as this.”
“This verse reminds me that there is a plan and purpose for my life, and that I was made for this moment,” Herrin said.
Herrin said sharing her message of #RealNotPerfect via the national platform of the Miss America Competition is the most valuable part of the experience. Of course, the scholarship she could win would fund the rest of her college studies and launch her future career.
But what she really wants young people out there to remember is that even if she wins, she will still be the same person she is now.
“Becoming Miss America doesn’t change my worth. I am still the same Julia with or without the title and crown of Miss America,” she said. “I am still the same Julia without the title of Miss South Carolina. This title simply awards me the opportunity to speak to an audience I wouldn’t have had before.”
To view the competition, download the free Peacock app for Apple and Android devices.