Marianella Lopez and Victoria Hill use their crowns and sashes as microphones for the voiceless by aiding causes they feel passionately about with their titles, and they’re both in the running for the 2018 Miss Georgia title.
Alumna Marianella Lopez ‘17 won first runner-up at her first pageant for the Miss Fulton County title after student Victoria Hill inspired her to attempt the pageantry world. Lopez felt she should continue competing due to her success without coaching. She enjoyed taking on the pressure during the interview segment of the competition, saying it was an adrenaline rush.
“I really had a good time at my first pageant, I enjoyed the pressure of trying to fine tune myself for those 10 minutes of interviews, two minutes onstage, 20-second onstage questions,” said Lopez.
Lopez competed in her first pageant in early February 2018. After coming in first runner-up in the Miss Fulton County pageant, she continued competing and at the end of the month, earned her title as Miss Rockdale County. With this win, Lopez will travel to Columbus, Georgia to compete for the Miss Georgia title against 53 contestants, including Miss Cobb County title holder Hill.
Interviews became Lopez’s favorite aspect because it enabled her to discuss her platform, sharing not only her story, but stories of others impacted by her cause.
“There are not many times in your life when you get asked very serious questions where people are actually listening and trying to get the heart of what you’re trying to say when it comes to things that you’re passionate about. I get asked about this only when it comes to pageants,” she said.
Women who are a part of the Miss America Organization become ambassadors for the Children’s Miracle Network, providing funds for children’s hospitals. In addition, winners hold their own platform to represent, and Lopez has used her crown as Miss Rockdale County to bring to light issues on cultural diversity and immigration.
“With my platform, I’ve been able to talk to a retired teachers association; I’ve been able to talk to schools; I’ve been able to kind of share my stories as well as my talent at different organization events and meet some really awesome people along the way,” Lopez said.
Hill also appreciated the opportunity to use her title as Miss Cobb County to be a voice for her platform, young women in foster care who will soon be stepping out into the world on their own.
“These precious girls are what matter to me the most and have become the reason behind why I do what I do,” said Hill.
Reinhardt is included in her service as Miss Cobb County. As a member of Kiwanis International, which she defined as “a global organization primarily aimed at meeting the needs of children and communities,” she is excited about the start of an official Circle K Club on campus.
Lopez said most competitors already volunteer and work with causes they are passionate about, but the title provides support on a greater scale.
“I have already been working with friends of refugees and Lutheran Services of Georgia for refugees and immigrants. I’ve been working with that foundation for over a year, visiting different refugees that have been relocated from Syria, Somalia and Sudan here in Atlanta,” said Lopez. “That was already part of my life, now I put a crown on it, and I’m able to raise funds a little more efficiently.”
If Lopez wins the Miss Georgia title, she believes it potentially serves as affirmation that the work she and others before her have done is “validated and appreciated.”
“It would mean that the face of the girl next door is being welcomed because the face of the American girl next door is diverse. To see a Miss Georgia who does come from a diverse background and a background of public service, it would really mean that the state of Georgia is acknowledging, appreciated, and affirming that girl and that face.”
While Lopez attributed much of her inspiration to Hill, she felt Reinhardt prepared her for this opportunity since freshman year.
“Because of Reinhardt, I have the education, the musical education and the musical background to perform my talent. Because of Reinhardt, I have the volunteer credentials and the leadership experience to speak with my own voice…it was the teachers and the community leaders and the instructors at Reinhardt that really prepared me without me knowing it.”
The 74th Annual Miss Georgia pageant will take place June 12-16. For more information, visit missga.org.