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New Miss South Carolina has sights set on Miss America, career in child advocacy

There was no rest for the weary Sunday as newly crowned Miss South Carolina Suzi Roberts paused to reflect on her accomplishments while looking ahead to new challenges in the Miss America pageant and beyond.

The 23-year-old Miss Columbia, a Pawleys Island native, took home the crown Saturday night after also winning the swimsuit and talent preliminaries earlier in the week, in addition to being named overall talent winner for her lyrical dance to “Greatest Love of All.”

Roberts celebrated with her family Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

“We went back to the (1425 Inn), and we just sat around and told stories and laughed and cried,” she said. “Everybody tried on the crown.”

Running on two hours’ sleep Sunday morning, Roberts said the past year was difficult after being named first runner-up in the 2016 Miss South Carolina contest.

“Having this be my last year of competing, the pressure was enormous,” she said. “At times I thought it would break me. I thought that I couldn’t handle it. But I just had to remember my ‘why’ and I had to remember what this job means to me.”

Winning means more to Roberts than a crown, or even a bid to compete for Miss America in September. It’s an opportunity to further a passion that, she says, already has carried her this far.

“It started with one child who was close to me,” she said of her passion for child advocacy. “I felt like the system failed her, and she wasn’t protected in the way that she should have been. And that broke my heart as I saw her grow into an adult, seeing the effects of what happened to her as a child affecting her adulthood.”

The same passion that has led Roberts to the Miss South Carolina crown also has led her to becoming a guardian ad litem in Richland County and getting involved with the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

She also is enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law, which she chose because of its children’s law center.

She delayed starting law school to compete in Miss South Carolina and Miss America.

“No matter how hard the training is or how focused I get training for Miss America, the service aspect – the children of this state – will always be my No. 1 priority,” she said. “That is my goal, to be a child advocate forever in the legal and legislative sense.

“I love this country and I love the rights that we have in our country,” Roberts said, “and I want to make those equal for all children from all walks of life.”

Videos at thestate.com

NIGHTLY COMPETITION: From talent to gown to swimsuit, see a recap of the nightly action from Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen, including videos of the winners being crowned.

BEHIND THE SCENES: What does it take to win? Contestants talk about butt glue, Big Macs and the people who inspire them.

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