LUMBERTON — The newly crowned Miss North Carolina dazzled Lumberton Rotarians on Tuesday with a motivational and inspirational luncheon performance.
And when she finished singing “At Last,” audience members were on their feet.
“At last, I am Miss North Carolina,” Victoria Huggins said. “We all have a story where we didn’t get what we wanted the first time. It took me five tries to become Miss North Carolina.
“If you want something, you don’t give up after the first try,” she said. “As Miss North Carolina, I can share that message with little girls across North Carolina — never give up on your dreams.”
Huggins, a St. Pauls native and a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said she was inspired when reigning Miss North Carolina Rebekah Revels, also from the St. Pauls area, came to her elementary school. Revels returned the favor and introduced Huggins to the Rotarians on Tuesday.
“I thought Rebekah Revels was a goddess,” Huggins said. “I’ve been a performer since age 5, but I didn’t feel I was beautiful growing up. I just wanted to sing.”
“I’ve really worked to become Miss North Carolina,” she said.
Setting goals was another speech topic on Tuesday. In this case, Huggins’ goals meshed with competitions in beauty pageants.
“My goal was to graduate debt-free from UNCP,” she said. “I won $10,000 in the first pageant I entered, and I won more than $50,000 in pageants, which helped me accomplish my goal.”
The $50,000 prize for winning the Miss North Carolina title will help pay for graduate school. She in enrolled in a graduate government communications program at Johns Hopkins University.
Huggins also has used her talents to raise money for worthy causes, including the Children’s Miracle Network and the Alzheimer’s Association. Her platform for the Miss America Pageant in September is “Music helps overcome Alzheimer’s disease.”
“When I was 9, I sang at GlenFlora retirement home for a woman named Miss Rosie,” Huggins said. “She had Alzheimer’s disease.
“Miss Rosie had not recognized her husband in months, and when I started singing ‘At Last,’ she took her husband’s hand and said, “Honey that’s our song. We danced to it at our wedding.’”
“That moment changed my life,” Huggins said. “I am going to meet with Gov. (Roy) Cooper soon, and I hope to see a music therapy program in every assisted living facility in North Carolina.”
Huggins, who has taken time off from her job as a news producer at WECT-TV and from her graduate studies, said she has been busy with three or four engagements a day. She said she will finish Tuesday working with her voice coach.
“I’m going to sing ‘I Will Always Love You’ at the Miss North Carolina Pageant,” she said.
Huggins promised an “epic costume” for the pageant.