Just this past weekend, the new Miss America was crowned. Caressa Cameron, a 22-year-old broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University was selected from 53 other contestants for her brains, beauty and inspiring optimism.
“I hope to gain inspiration, I hope to gain momentum so that when this 365 days is over, I can shoot through the moon,” Cameron told The Associated Press.
Cameron is the first black Miss America since 2005 and once her year wearing the pageant’s crown is complete, she will finish her education and go on to receive her master’s degree in broadcast journalism so that she can become a news anchor.
As part of her crown, Cameron received a $50,000 scholarship. The Miss America Scholarship program is the largest provider of scholarship money to young women in the world and the largest provider of college scholarships to women in the U.S. In fact, the pageant considers itself to be a “scholarship pageant,” not a beauty pageant.
Cameron’s scholarship entitles her to use the money towards her continuing education. Since most of the pageant winners are students, many of them, like Cameron, apply their scholarship winnings to graduate school or towards paying off student loans.
Cameron’s platform issue is AIDS awareness. The issue is a personal one as not only did her uncle die from the disease, but her family fostered a young girl who was HIV-positive while Cameron was growing up.
In 2007, the new Miss America was recognized by the U.S. Congress for her work to bring instant-result HIV testing to her home state of Virginia.
The runner-up of the Miss America pageant, Miss California Kristy Cavinder, also received a $25,000 scholarship.