Rachel Wyatt, newly crowned Miss Americas Outstanding Teen 2013,, said Sunday that she didnt think she would win the honor that now makes her one of the nations most celebrated young people.
After meeting all the girls, it was like, Whoever wins, Im going to be thrilled for them, and they will represent our nation in a wonderful way, but I never expected it to be me, said Wyatt, 17, a rising senior at Wren High School in Anderson County.
I think I knew all along I had what it took because everyone was so encouraging, but I never actually thought it would happen, said Wyatt, interviewed by phone as she was driving back to South Carolina with her father, George, 51, and mother, Karen, 54.
Wyatt wont soon forget how she felt on learning she won. I was so excited and shocked, and then right after winning, I turned around and saw all the contestants come running, charging at me to come hug me that was the greatest feeling.
In July, just after winning the Miss South Carolina Teen contest, Wyatt got an extra burst of media attention by doing the prayerful move down on one knee, fist to head made famous by NFL quarterback Tim Tebow after he scores a touchdown. She hadnt planned on Tebowing after winning Saturday night, but when all the girls began congratulating her, some began asking her why she wasnt Tebowing, she said.
They wanted me to do it, so I just kind of did it for them, she said.
She danced her way to victory by performing in a two-minute routine she choreographed herself a lyrical rendition to Miley Cyrus The Climb, which has the words, Aint about how fast I get there / Aint about whats waiting on the other side / Its the climb....
Wyatt said the lyrics speak to her. I dont think success is necessarily reaching the goal. Once you get there, its the journey up until that point, like it says in the song.
As Miss Americas Outstanding Teen, Wyatt will be expected to travel across the country to promote academic achievement, creative accomplishments, community involvement and healthy living to young people.
Even without her honor, Wyatt who watches virtually no television is already an all-around teen: shes senior class president, a yearbook editor, member of the school dance team, member of the schools show chorus (a song and dance team that performs at school functions and travels to local elementary and middle schools). She also hopes to continue her dance therapy work with children.
I have a full plate this year, but hopefully Ill be able to balance it all.
Her goal: to pursue a degree in childrens speech pathology. She hopes to do undergraduate work at Clemson (Im a Clemson Tiger, and sos my whole family) and get a masters degree at the University of South Carolina.
Asked for advice to teens, she shared these tips:
• Diet and exercise: Remember your portions, keep moderation in mind, and as long as youre exercising daily , whatever it is for me it was dance as long as youre getting physical activity, youre good to go.
• Favorite class, song and book: English class, Wagon Wheel (sung by Old Crow Medicine Show) and The Count of Monte Cristo (A captivating book; I loved it).
• General advice: Be yourself. In meeting the contestants, they were all phenomenal, but I stayed true to who I was. In life, be yourself and that will take you far.
Its hard to pinpoint the most influential person in her life, she said, but she singled out her two older sisters, Hannah, 21, and Sydney, 23. Ive always looked up to them; I still do. Really, just my whole entire family they have molded and shaped me into the person I am today.
Wyatt also said she plans to keep her feet on the ground by reminding herself she won because its only because of my Heavenly Father has chosen to bless me with this opportunity.
Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.