Joining a long line of Miss South Carolina legacies, Miss Hartsville Jill Dudley was crowned as the 2022 pageant queen Saturday night.
The 85th anniversary Miss South Carolina pageant was held in the Township Auditorium in Columbia. The stakes were high, the emotions were strong, and the smell of hair spray was powerful as 42 candidates competed for over $200,000 in scholarships.
Miss Clemson Teen Piper Holt, 17, of Piedmont won the 2022 Miss South Carolina Teen Pageant earlier Saturday night.
Behind Dudley, the top finishers in the Miss South Carolina competition were:
1st runner up: Miss Florence County, Berkley Bryant, 21, of Anderson
2nd runner up: Miss Columbia, Jada Samuels, of Columbia
3rd runner up: Miss Clemson, Tara Moore, 24, of Powdersville
4th runner up: Miss Greenville County, Sarah Kay Wrenn, 21, of Columbia
Dudley’s social impact initiative, Luke’s Legacy: Advocacy for Diabetes Education, became an important passion of hers.
“I know I can go into all 46 counties in the state of South Carolina and push for diabetes prevention programs as well as risk management classes,” said Dudley, a 23-year-old from Socastee.
In both the teen and adult competitions, contestants used the stage to bring attention to initiatives close to their hearts.
Miss Newberry Teen Jade Hughes’ sister passed away from Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in October 2021. Hughes’ platform, #HopefromHaley, honored her sister and raised money for children at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston.
“That has inspired me to do my monologue (during the talent portion). Because in the monologue, I keep repeating, ‘If I stay or if I die, it’s my decision,’” Hughes, 17, said in an interview before Saturday night’s final competition round. “So many kids out there are fighting for their lives daily with cancer or any type of sickness or illness. And it’s their decision. It’s not the doctors, they can’t decide to fight for them. It’s their decision to fight.”
Miss Gamecock, Felicia McGill, decided to compete in Miss South Carolina for a chance to win some of the scholarships so that part of her Ph.D. graduation could be cheaper. McGill is the first Black woman to be crowned as Miss Gamecock.
“It feels good to open a door but know that I can keep that door open for other young women for life,” McGill said.
Miss South Carolina candidates must be between ages 19-26 and win a local competition in South Carolina before applying to for the statewide pageant. The young women participated in a workshop weekend in March to prepare for Saturday night’s pageant, and a week of preliminary events preceded the crowning moment.
“It’s honestly been a really, really good experience. It’s been really nice to promote my social impact initiative, foster care,” Miss Hartsville Teen Alainna Todd said. “The Miss South Carolina program gives all of us the opportunity to use our voice in the areas that we’re passionate about.”