The Doctor of Pharmacy student thanked Miss America 2020 for “taking the focus off our bodies” and giving her a chance to be recognised for her intelligence, personality and mission to educate.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on December 20, 2019

Before she was crowned the 99th Miss America, Camille Schrier wore a laboratory jacket.

Camille Schrier is a scientist and performed a colourful chemistry demonstration of the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.

Miss America 2020 isn’t your grandmother’s beauty pageant. The candidates (the term ‘contestants’ is dead in Miss America) and Schrier’s words showed how different today’s Miss America is.

The 24-year-old PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) 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 recognised for her intelligence, personality and mission.

The mission?

“Miss America is someone who needs to educate,” she told the judges Kelly Rowland, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown and Superstore actress Lauren Ash.

Miss America, Miss America 2020,

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 US$300,000 scholarships and a year of representing the organisation, by last year’s winner, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, 26, a classically trained opera singer from New York.

For the second year in a row, women were not judged in a swimsuit or how they look in an evening gown. Instead, a series of interviews and talent demonstrations will determine who is best qualified to wear this year’s crown.

“To make it relevant for these young women, it was important for us as a scholarship and service organisation to make sure that we were reflective of this generation, meaning that you no longer had to be defined by some sort of ideal,” said Regina Hopper, president & CEO of the Miss America Organisation, AP News reported.

Morgan Nichols, Miss Carolina, had her own message. She walked down the red carpet wearing a billowing, long skirt topped by a plain white T-shirt that read “Stronger”.

Hopper acknowledged there has been some push-back from “old pageant” people who liked the old way of doing things, but she said there’s been greater interest in the competition since the roll-out of Miss America 2.0.

This year also marks the first time the multi-day event is being held at Mohegan Sun, the tribal casino and entertainment complex in suburban southeastern Connecticut. Miss America organisers have left Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Miss America also switched from ABC back to NBC to broadcast the glitzy finale to an estimated 4.5 million viewers. And for the first time, preliminary events and the finale — held in Mohegan’s 10,000-seat arena — were being streamed live on the NBC app.

“We’ve had many, many large events. This probably reaches the most people,” said Jeff Hamilton, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun. “We’re just really, really excited about it.”