The Miss Georgia crown will be up for grabs next week, and one Martinez beauty queen says she is excited about her trip to the pageant.
Erin Beasley, 20, the reigning Miss Augusta, will compete with 44 other beauty queens statewide for the title Tuesday through June 24 in Columbus. The winner will move on to the Miss America pageant in the fall.
"Last year was so much fun. Everything was new. It was a learning experience," said Beasley, who said she plans to improve on her own areas of competition for her second round at the title. "I'm a lot more prepared this year - the little things that I need during the week that I didn't know I'd need last year."
Beasley is a University of Georgia junior studying speech communications and public relations. She said she'd like to become a professor in one of those fields after spending some time working in health communications, such as doing public relations for a hospital.
Miss Magnolia Midlands 2005 on her first trip, Beasley will go to the state pageant this time as Miss Augusta 2006.
Beasley said winning the Miss Georgia crown would be nice, but meeting and spending the week with the other beauty queens makes the week of competition fun and worth the effort.
"I have made so many new friends, girls that I still keep in touch with. So (I'll) be trying to build on those relationships and build some new ones at the same time and not get caught up in the competition,'' she said.
The 2004 Evans High School graduate also is driven when it comes to a platform that is close to her heart - lymphoma, a blood cancer that affects the body's lymphatic tissue. Beasley's father, Dean, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease when she was in her midteens.
While competing in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training 26.2 mile Coca-Cola Zero Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, Beasley raised nearly $4,000 for the society. She also participated in the society's 2005 Light the Night Walk, which she and her father will be in charge of in September. She plans soon to begin training for a second event, possibly a triathlon, in which she will mentor new participants in their training and fundraising.
Being Miss Magnolia Midlands, and now Miss Augusta, Beasley said she enjoys the attention her platform gets because of her position.
"It's great," she said. "It's something I already enjoyed doing. It's just given me a little more of a spotlight to talk about it to people."
Beasley said she has enjoyed being Miss Augusta, whose perks include attending The Masters Tournament Red Carpet Tour and Mayor's Reception. She said she also enjoyed being Miss Magnolia Midlands, which was a preliminary competition open to anyone.
"But now, I guess it's a city and an area that I have grown up in," Beasley said of her Miss Augusta title. "I get calls all the time to be somewhere or wave in a parade or anything. I've been able to represent a specific area instead of just representing myself. I spent my whole life here, and my parents did, too."
She said she'll be spending Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings next week competing in preliminary rounds: talent, interview, swimsuit and evening gown. On Saturday, June 24, the top 10 finalists will be announced to compete for the Miss Georgia crown in the final round.
"I don't really get too nervous about it anymore ... I'm just myself," Beasley said. "It's like a vacation for me."
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