Camille Schrier of Richmond was crowned Miss Virginia 2019 on Saturday evening. An advocate of women in STEM, she showcased her chemistry skills in the talent competition, performing a science experiment onstage.
Richmond resident, VCU doctoral candidate, Virginia Tech alumnus, and STEM advocate Camille Schrier took home the crown at the Miss Virginia 2019 competition at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, this Saturday.
Saturday concluded a week-long competition including preliminary rounds featuring evening wear competitions, onstage interview questions, and, last Friday, the talent competition.
For Schrier's talent, rather than singing, dancing, or baton-twirling, she chose to demonstrate the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Dressed in a lab coat and high heels, Schrier mixed chemicals into beakers. The experiment concluded with an explosion of blue and orange foam – and some very impressed judges.
As Miss Virginia 2019, Schrier will travel the state visiting schools and community centers, doing public relations events, and promoting her social media impact initiative Mind Your Meds. Mind Your Meds aims to educate the community on prescription drug safety, with a focus on tackling the opioid epidemic. As part of the initiative, Schrier will educate community members and caregivers on the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan (generic naloxone) to combat rising rates of death and injury from prescription drug abuse.
An advocate of women in STEM, Schrier says she wants to help break down gendered barriers for women who are passionate about something but don't have traditionally "feminine" talents.
"We are typically an organization that sees people that are fabulous dancers and really talented singers use that as their talent, and so for me to come out there and take a risk and do a science demonstration was very different," she said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Gabby Birenbaum.
"As someone who is breaking the boundaries and breaking stereotypes for what talent looks like at Miss America, I wanted to be a little out of the box, and it really worked out."
Schrier currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is pursuing her doctorate degree at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy. A native of Pennsylvania, Schrier graduated from Virginia Tech in 2018 cum laude with degrees in Biochemistry and Systems Biology.
Twenty-four women competed in this year's pageant, including law school graduate Hallie Hovey-Murray, the first woman with autism to compete for the title of Miss Virginia. Hovey-Murray performed a puppet show demonstrating her ventriloquist skills for her talent, earning her the Coletta Schreier Non-Finalist Talent Award.
"[I hope} they can look to me and say okay, she’s a woman who is able to be successful in a[n] organization like the Miss America organization, but she’s also a scientist," Schrier told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"I truly am a woman of science – that’s my career. So (I want) to be able to break those barriers and to really inspire young women and men to follow this path if that’s something that they’re passionate about."
Over $75,000 in cash scholarships and in-kind scholarships were available to Miss Virginia contestants this year. Camille Schrier's winnings, by the end of the competition, totaled $21,000. She says she plans to use it to help pay for graduate school.
Did you watch the Miss Virginia pageant this year? What did you think of the new Miss Virginia's science experiment? Let us know what you think.