062917 Miss America: Pawleys woman wins Miss S.C. crown
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Miss America: Pawleys woman wins Miss S.C. crown

Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Life changed after Suzi Roberts won the crown. For one thing, her friends wanted her autograph. For another, she kept the crown on her head for a week, until her mom finally told her to put it in the closet.

She was 9 and the title was Miss American Coed Sweetheart. “It’s really weird,” Suzi said.

Now 23, she could be forgiven for displaying the crown. She was named Miss South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia. It was her third and final chance for the title, which has an age limit.

Though she competed as Miss Columbia, Pawleys Island is her home. “There is no Miss Pawleys Island,” Roberts said. Perhaps not officially, but there is in the eyes of the community that will now be watching as she prepares to compete for Miss America in September.

In fact, the preparation started after Roberts was named runner-up in last year’s event. The advice she got from former Miss America winners was start early. “You need to be prepared before you even win your state pageant,” Roberts said.

Her platform is child advocacy. She has spent the last year working with children and studying the issues. She graduated from the University of South Carolina and will start law school after her year as Miss South Carolina. With a law degree “I plan to be involved in the legislative process,” Roberts said.

She was part of that this year, testifying at a state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the creation of a Family Court study committee. The measure didn’t pass, but it earned her an invitation to discuss it with the state Bar Association.

“Being Miss South Carolina, you have a very non-threatening role,” Roberts said. That opens doors.

In her competition interview she was asked if people don’t take her seriously. “At times, yes,” she said. When she started, they didn’t expect her to know much about the issues. They know better now.

She was prepared for the competition, but winning “was completely different than I imagined,” Roberts said. “You need to be on your toes all the time.”

The daughter of Mariah Johnson and Gary Roberts, her first pageant was actually only done as preparation for a dance event. She didn’t compete again until she was 20. And she hasn’t had time to wear her new crown. “My schedule doesn’t belong to me anymore,” she said.

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