Hannah Courtney Wilson had never been in a pageant before, but that didn't stop her from being named Miss Lander University 2018-2019, following this year's pageant, held Monday, Nov. 12, in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium.
The special education major from Clinton wowed the judges with a high-energy dance number that she choreographed herself, a medley of "Beat It" and other Michael Jackson songs.
No one was more surprised by Wilson's being crowned the new Miss Lander than Wilson herself.
"For me to win, it's incredible, very, very shocking," she said.
Wilson has been dancing at the same studio since she was two years old. She described dance as her "passion. It's what I love to do."
The sophomore, who was sponsored by Lander's Sassy Cats Dance Team, hopes that her dancing skills will lead to a job as an NFL cheerleader.
She has other plans that have nothing to do with dancing. After graduating from Lander, she wants to teach in a middle school or high school. Getting a master's degree and working as a middle school or high school guidance counselor is another one of her goals.
"And I still want to teach dance classes on the side," she said.
Other winners in this year's pageant included Allyson Taylor Reinhardt, a freshman nursing major from Greenwood, who was named first runner-up. Reinhardt, who was sponsored by Zeta Tau Alpha international women's fraternity, was also named Miss Congeniality.
Second runner-up honors went to Jessica Nicole Lewis, a senior elementary education major from Honea Path, who was sponsored by Lander's Department of Teacher Education.
Winning the People's Choice Award was freshman visual arts major Molly Kathryn McDermott, of Hodges, who was sponsored by Dr. Laura Brown.
Other contestants in this year's pageant included Jada Kathryn Mayes, a senior early childhood education major from Blacksburg; Leah Ashanti Anthony, a sophomore secondary education major from Mt. Carmel; Kennedi Hal'Lee Smith, a freshman exercise science major from Ware Shoals; Jameria Emone Jackson, a junior early childhood education major from Clover; and Lea Shawn Toby, a sophomore secondary education major from Whitmire.
Serving as judges for this year's event, presented by the Lander chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), were Joyce Nickles, Bess Park and Anthony Gaskin.
Musical entertainment was provided by Lander students Taylor Baxley, of Andrews, and Jacob Mitchell, of Summerville, who serve as NAfME co-presidents; Absalon Richardson, of Anderson; Jacob Roten, of Laurens; and Stephen Underhill, of Greenwood.
Also contributing to the evening's entertainment was Arie Catherine O'Dell, who took her final walk as Miss Lander University 2017-2018. O'Dell, a sophomore early childhood education major from Batesburg, sang "Part of Your World," from "The Little Mermaid."
The theme of this year's pageant was "Timeless: Beauty Through the Decades." Emcee Laura Riddle Dennin concluded the pageant by saying to the contestants, "You all were perfect examples of timeless beauty."