'If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again'. That old idiom certainly applies to the current Miss North Carolina, Victoria Huggins. But, you can add two more “agains” when you describe the 23-year-old’s determination to wear the crown.
“I felt within my spirit this is what I was meant to do,” Victoria said in a recent interview at WECT, where she worked as producer and reporter on Carolina in the Morning before ascending to her current position. “I was meant to be Miss North Carolina. This was the position that was ordained for my life.”
But it was quite the climb for the native of St. Pauls, NC. She won five local competitions, including Miss Wilmington in 2016, to make herself eligible for the statewide pageant. It wasn’t until Victoria’s fifth and final year of eligibility in 2017, as Miss Greater Sampson County, that she topped the judges’ list. She describes the moment her name was called as the new Miss North Carolina as surreal.
“Just because it was everything that I had worked so hard for,” she says. “Not just me, but it was a team victory because I was five times into this thing, and that was a collective effort of a lot of people, pouring their knowledge, pouring their heart into me. So, it wasn’t just me who won Miss North Carolina, it was all my committees, my family. To hear that auditorium just go wild, that was insane!”
Victoria’s road to the title of Miss North Carolina did have some speed bumps along the way. With four of her successes winning local pageants, came the disappointment of not achieving the pinnacle of being named the state’s representative to the Miss America competition. Victoria says she had to learn how to turn each event into a learning experience.
“I think it all goes back to mindset,” she says. “Because yes, the disappointments are devastating, and I admit, my third time competing for Miss North Carolina, when everybody told me ‘this is your year, this is going to be it!’. I won the talent award, I won every single award, except the crown. I literally stayed in my bedroom, would not come out of it for a week because I was just so devastated.”
But since receiving the crown in June, Victoria has immersed herself in the responsibilities. By her count, Victoria has made 166 appearances in her first six months, more than any of her predecessors. Along with the constant scheduling demands, there are other challenges.
“It is my greatest challenge I would say, and something that I look forward to, when I do meet someone who is opposed to pageantry and I share with them the difference with the Miss America organization and how I treat this job differently,” Victoria says. “It’s beautiful to have people come up to me later and say, ‘you changed my mind, I did not know that there was a brain behind the crown’. That’s what so great about this organization, that I was able to graduate from college debt-free, I’ve earned over $57,000 worth of scholarships. Not only the experience that I have gained, that I will be prepared to go into any job interview after this and be able to excel.”
Victoria remembers asking her pastor to sing in church as a small child, and she won her first pageant, for Tiny Miss St. Pauls, at the age of six. As she grew, the desire to perform blossomed. She won competitions to sing on Star Search, Showtime at the Apollo, and American Idol, all before graduating high school. She talks about those experiences at 15:30 of the podcast.
Victoria has made it her platform to raise funding and awareness for the ALZ Project, and to advocate for music therapy as a treatment for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. She has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the effort in her time with the Miss America organization, but she had seen the debilitating effects of the disease first-hand, and a the impact of music on patients, when visiting her grandmother’s nursing home as a teenager.
“There was a lady who had Alzheimer’s that did not remember her husband for over six weeks in the nursing facility,” Victoria remembers. “I started singing ‘At Last’, and she reached her hand into the wheelchair beside her and said ‘honey, that’s our song!’. So, to see how powerful something I love so much, music, which I thought was so simple, could transcend this disease and bring immeasurable comfort and hope to these individuals.”
Victoria is currently a grad student studying through Johns Hopkins University, working to get a Master’s Degree in government. She wants to pursue a career as a political commentator or reporter.
You can learn more about Victoria at her official website here.
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