In past years, Miss Clarendon County Julia Herrin has been a first runner up to Miss South Carolina Teen and first runner up to Miss South Carolina.
Now, she’s Miss South Carolina 2021.
Before her name was called, she and Miss Spartanburg Lindsey Burrell stood centerstage, locked in an embrace as they waited for the answer to who would follow Morgan Nichols’ two-year run as Miss South Carolina.
After the decision was announced, Herrin squatted slightly so the crown could be fitted on her head and managed to keep tears from flowing even as her shoulders shook and her face showed surprise.
“I believe in the journey,” she told host Daniel Sechtin moments later. “When the time is right, God will make it happen.”
In the last part of the contest, the top five contestants were asked to make a pitch to the judges before the judges made their final selection.
Herrin was all business. She said she has a three-, six- and nine-month plan for developing the business of the Miss South Carolina Organization. She wants to raise more scholarship money and increase participation by 20 percent.
She had the top score for the evening in the talent portion of the competition. She performed Mozart’s 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata on the piano. She is a piano performance, communication double major at Auburn University. Her goal is to become a lawyer.
Herrin’s platform is to teach social media literacy so it can be an agent for enhancing people’s self esteem and as a catalyst for change. In her on-stage interview during the preliminaries, she said for some, social media causes anxiety and pressure.
“Social media is more than an app on our phone,” she said. “It affects our real life.”
Herrin was crowned by Morgan Nichols, who served as Miss South Carolina for two years when COVID-19 canceled last year’s contest.
As Miss South Carolina, Herrin won a $60,000 cash scholarship and will compete in the Miss America contest in December in Connecticut.
First runner-up was Lindsey Burrell, second runner-up Miss Clemson Anna Newton, third runner-up Miss River City Tori Sizemore and fourth runner-up Miss Midlands Emily Wakeman.
The others in the top 10 were Miss Capital City Madison Coffman, Miss Charleston Christina Grace Harding, Miss Gamecock Callie Farrell, Miss Greater Greer Jada Samuel and Miss Hub City Jill Dudley.
Semi-finalists in the top 16 included Miss Berkeley County Carli Drayton, Miss Dorman Bailee Smith, Miss Greenville County Ashley Jones, Miss Inman Brooke Mills, Miss North Charleston Brooke Vu and Miss Richland County Payton Deal.
Nichols plans to attend Johns Hopkins University this fall to earn master’s degrees in biotechnology and business. She was a genetics major at Clemson University.
Nichols has spent the past two years traveling the state talking to groups in schools and elsewhere about the importance of STEM education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Nichols will be vice chair of the Miss South Carolina Foundation, a new organization created to support the Miss South Carolina organization.
The foundation chair is Jeff Black, who was the emcee of the Miss South Carolina pageant 27 years ago and is a board member.
He said his daughter was the first Miss Clarendon, a role that has helped her and continues to help her succeed in life.
Dabria Aguilar was crowned the new Miss South Carolina Teen Friday night, also at Township Auditorium. Miss South Carolina Teen 2019 Kellan Fenegan, who represented Columbia, served for two years due to the contest cancellation in 2020.
At the start of the Friday show, 15 contestants were selected by the judges as semi-finalists from the 35 competing. Piedmont Teen Piper Holt joined the group as the People’s Choice winner based on online votes.
Judges selected the top 10 after the fitness competition, and after talent performances, the top five were announced.
First runner-up was Georgetown County Teen Hannah Young, second runner-up was Clemson Teen Reilly Ray, third runner-up was Greer High Teen Ella Kate Brannon and fourth runner-up was Spartanburg Teen Messiah Moring.
Aguilar, 17, performed a contemporary ballet and also had the highest talent score of all the contestants. She is from Hanahan and attends Hanahan High School.
Aguilar wants to focus on special education. She said she hopes to visit every special education classroom in the state to help enhance students’ self confidence and self love.
Aguilar will go to the Miss Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando, which begins with preliminary competitions July 28. As Miss South Carolina Teen, she won a $10,000 scholarship Friday night.
Fenegen, who graduated this year from high school, will enroll at Clemson University in August and plans to study genetics. She said in an interview on the Jack and Megan show last fall she may decide to compete in the Miss South Carolina pageant. She was in the top 10 at Miss Outstanding Teen and had the highest GPA. She began her involvement with Miss South Carolina as a princess.
As Miss South Carolina Teen, Fenegen spent the past two years working to provide needed items for kids in foster care through her Kellan’s Kloset organization. She announced Friday night that the organization has now gone international. It is in 14 states and three countries, she said.
“I wouldn’t have had the courage without the Miss South Carolina organization,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful.”
The others in the Top 10 were Florence Teen Alexandra Hamilton, Green Wave Teen Ansley Cook, Piedmont Teen Piper Holt, South Florence High School Teen Constance Mixon, Upstate Teen Belle Pitts.
Semi-finalists in the Top 16 included Clarendon Teen Nicole Herrera, Dorchester County Teen Muskaan Makkar, Garden City Teen Ashley O’Connor, Inman Teen Emma Cook, Palmetto Teen Abby Scruggs, Greater Greer Teen Kelsey Pranke.