"Miss America is someone who needs to educate," said the 24-year-old PharmD student

By Joelle Goldstein and Nick Maslow
December 19, 2019 10:05 PM
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There she is, Miss America!

Miss Virginia Camille Schrier earned the title of Miss America 2020 on Thursday night, beating out 50 other contestants for the prestigious crown after performing the show’s first-ever science demonstration in the talent portion.

Schrier, 24, showed the audience the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, and earned high praise from the judges — Kelly Rowland, Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown and Superstore actress Lauren Ash — when she told them, “Miss America is someone who needs to educate.”

Prior to her win, Schrier — a PharmD student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy — thanked the pageant for “taking the focus off our bodies” and giving her a chance to be recognized for her smarts, personality and mission.

Schrier said her goal as Miss America was to promote drug safety and abuse prevention while also championing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

She was presented with the crown, which comes with more than $300,000 scholarships and a year of representing the organization, by her predecessor, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, 26.

Miss America Camille Schrier
NBC
Miss America Camille Schrier and first runner-up Miss Georgia Victoria Hill

This year, the annual event — dubbed Miss America 2.0 — was held live at Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Access Hollywood’s Mario Lopez and Kit Hoover hosted.

An impressive group of 51 women, from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, competed for the title by demonstrating their talents and discussing the social impact platform that they’ll choose to promote for the next year.

Miss America Camille Schrier
Miss America Camille Schrier

Before the competition, some of the women made headlines for their causes, including Miss Pennsylvania Tiffany Seitz, who opened up to PEOPLE about being born addicted to cocaine and given two weeks to live by doctors.

Seitz said a child born in that condition today would be admitted to the NICU, but that wasn’t the case for her.

“I was waiting in the streets, alone, while my mother was out prostituting trying to make money,” Seitz, 23, explained. “It’s a rotten shame, but that was the reality for me.”

Tiffany Seitz
Courtesy of Miss America Organization

Seitz’s life profoundly changed with the early help of a foster care agency and a loving family from Freeport, Pennsylvania, who took her in when she was a few months old before adopting her when she was 2½.

Because of their impact in her life, Seitz now shares her story, with hopes of bringing attention to how foster care and adoption working together can save lives.

“I’m so grateful that my parents have given me so much, opportunities that I wouldn’t have had had it not been for the gift of adoption,” she said. “I hope my story will inspire other people to consider doing the same thing.”