Sara Beth Sears was crowned Miss Gamecock 2019 in December 2018. The third-year pharmacy student sat down with the Daily Gamecock to discuss her passion for USC, her family and Children's Miracle Network.
TDG: How did you get into pageants?
Sarah Beth Sears: My very first pageant was when I was in fifth grade. I was a big tomboy, and my aunts wanted to dress me up and wanted me to do a pageant, so I did it pretty much for them, and ended up winning, and I was like, 'Ooh, this is kind of fun.' I did a couple more, won some, lost a lot more than I won. My last pageant before Miss Gamecock was my high school pageant, and I won it. Once I got to college, I was like, 'I’m going to take a little break.' But I knew there was the Miss Gamecock pageant, and I had been wanting to do it. I wanted to do it freshman and sophomore year and just didn’t really have time. My roommate and I both decided to compete in Miss Gamecock this year, so we kind of did it together, and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t expect to win. I kind of just did it for the fun of it. I love pushing myself to get better at things that I do. Regardless, I would get in shape because we had a fitness portion, and then we had mock interview practice, so that's kind of why I went into it. They're fun to me. I love getting dressed up, but I knew I would get something out of it regardless of whether I won or lost. When I won, it was just unbelievable.
TDG: What does being Miss Gamecock mean to you?
SBS: For me, it's been a good way for me to get out in the community and do stuff or a way for me to voice my opinions about things. Before now, I was almost timid to step out and do anything outside my comfort zone. As Miss Gamecock, I’ve gotten to go into the schools and read. I’ve gotten to do a lot of community service stuff back home, raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. It's just been unbelievable. So for me, it’s about being a representative for our school, because I will get to represent USC at Miss South Carolina this year, which is going to be awesome. It's a way for me to be a good role model, it's a way for me to give back to the community and it's just been so much fun.
TDG: What does your talent, American Sign Language, mean to you?
SBS: I have a cousin who is deaf. Growing up, we learned a little bit of sign language just to be able to communicate a little bit better with her. I am not a master of sign language at all, I do not know everything. But, we did learn it growing up as a way to communicate better. ... It was nice to be able to do a little sign language across the room and talk to each other. We got to reconnect, because she has taught me the rest of the sign language that I needed to know for the song. ... To get to go to an event or have a song pretty much spelled out for them in a way they can understand a lot easier, it just meant so much to her, which meant a lot to me, too.
TDG: What have you gotten from this experience so far? So what has being in this program done for you?
SBS: I love going to the schools and reading to kids. ... To be able to go in as Miss Gamecock — and they all call me a princess, which is so sweet — I always take my crown and sash, and so all of the girls always want to put it on. So, to give each of them a chance to put the crown on and be a princess for a second, they love it, and I love it because it makes them so happy. ... Through Miss Gamecock, I’ve gotten to serve and raise money for Children's Miracle Network, which so far I've raised over $800. ... It’s incredible to see how many people volunteer for them and give their time and money to go and help these kids and their families.
TDG: Why did you want to be Miss Gamecock 2019?
SBS: If I was going to take a title to Miss South Carolina, I wanted to be able to represent my school. USC has just meant so much to me. It's the place I have literally called home for the past three years, and I felt so welcome in every aspect. I love the Gamecocks, so I was like, "Why not be Miss Gamecock if I was going to be any of them?"
Sears will compete in the 2019 Miss South Carolina pageant on June 25.