The Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition crowned 22-year-old Kelsey Hollis its 3rd Black winner on the evening of June 18.
Along with a crown and Miss Georgia 2022 title, the annual pageant also awarded Hollis a $20,000 scholarship.
The win came after a wardrobe malfunction Hollis experienced during the talent portion of the competition on the night before.
The competitor soldiered on despite her mishap on stage, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.
The cape attached to Hollis’ dress on Friday night accidentally unsnapped from her garment and fell to the stage’s floor during her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”
Even still, Hollis got first place in the talent round for her performance and snagged an additional $500 scholarship.
The Miss Georgia pageant’s website notes that the scholarship competition held its first run in 1945.
Lest to say, Hollis’ victory on Saturday night as the competition’s 3rd Black winner it’s its almost 80-year history is a significant feat.
When local news source 13WMAZ asked what message the winner has for young girls looking up to her, Hollis emphasized the importance of knowing they “deserve a seat at the table.”
“This journey definitely was a process of confidence, of hard work, but to know that we’re in a position now to see people who look like us obtaining things like this,” the winner noted.
And while being an advocate who champions inclusivity, Hollis also works hard to spread autism awareness.
Being the younger sister of a brother with Asperger’s syndrome, the 22-year-old launched a nonprofit in 2014 named TAABS.
The acronym of the organization’s name stands for Teaching Autism Awareness by Siblings, 13WMAZ detailed.
“I really created TAABS in order to create a safe environment for families to talk about the things we go through without feeling guilty or ashamed of anything and also including those who are diagnosed with a disability in those conversations so that we all, even just as families, know the best ways to go through life with everyone feeling loved and appreciated,” Hollis shared.
A native of Warner Robins, GA, Hollis will now head to Connecticut to prepare for competing in the next Miss America pageant.
View one of Hollis’ Instagram posts about her big win down below.