Anna Joy Hulsey will be bringing a bit of disco and funk to the 2022 Miss South Carolina Pageant with her clogging routine to the music, “Boogie Shoes,” by KC and the Sunshine Band.
The 85th annual pageant will be held at Township Auditorium in Columbia on Tuesday, June 21, through Saturday, June 25. The event also includes the Miss South Carolina Teen competition.
A 12-time national clogging champion who has appeared on NBC-TV’s America’s Got Talent, Hulsey began her reign as Miss Lander University this past November. Since then, she has balanced a rigorous academic schedule as a nursing major with public appearances and talent and pageant preparations.
Hulsey, of Gaffney, has been dancing since the age of three. Outgoing and energetic, Hulsey said few people would ever suspect that a diagnosis at age 14 of supraventricular tachycardia, a heart condition characterized by a fast heartbeat, nearly ended her dreams of dancing. The experience led Hulsey to adopt a healthier lifestyle and ultimately to share her story with others to promote heart health. Her #stayingheartsmart campaign has become her social impact message for the Miss South Carolina Pageant.
“It is important to me to raise awareness about the prevalence of heart disease and the need for prevention,” said Hulsey. “Before I was diagnosed with my heart condition, I was physically active. I played soccer. I danced. I was a cheerleader. I thought I was healthy as a horse.”
But repeated visits to the doctor led to the discovery of her heart condition, which was surprising in a family without a history of cardiac problems. After surgery and a commitment to better health through good nutrition and physical activity, Hulsey resumed dancing and her busy lifestyle.
“The most common age for heart problems is age 65 and older, but the risks also exist for people who are much younger,” she said. “I want to bring attention to adults and especially to young people. Although I seemed healthy, I realized that the junk food that I was consuming wasn’t good for me. I really wasn’t as healthy as I thought. ”
Her hospitalization led to another discovery: Hulsey decided she would pursue a career in nursing. She toured college campuses throughout the state, and chose Lander because of the personal attention that she received on a visit to Greenwood. “I realized that I would be a name and not a number,” she said. “That was important to me. Now that I’m a student, I know this is true. I can contact my teachers, and they will respond back to my questions.”
Hulsey has excelled in her nursing studies. She recently was selected for the inaugural class of the Self Regional Scholars Program. The newly created scholarship is awarded to Lander’s highest performing nursing students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, community involvement and career potential.
A rising junior, Hulsey is the daughter of Bruce and Sheila Hulsey. She is a graduate of Gaffney High School, where she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in swimming, and also won the school’s Best Sportsmanship awards in cheer and swimming.
At Lander, she plays intramural volleyball, is a videographer for her sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, which sponsored her in the Miss Lander University pageant, and is the assistant to the recruitment chair for the sorority.
“I love Lander,” Hulsey said. “It is such an honor to be able to represent the school I love so much in the Miss South Carolina Pageant.”
The preliminary competition gets underway June 21, when Hulsey will compete in the onstage-question portion of the pageant. On June 22, she will compete in evening gown, and her talent competition will be June 23. The new Miss Teen South Carolina will be crowned June 24, followed by the Miss South Carolina finals on June 25. All contestants compete in a 10-minute personal interview session with the panel of judges.
Hulsey is eager to perform her talent routine for which she will wear a shimmery hot pink jumpsuit, reminiscent of the 1970-era disco fashions.
“This dance is showy and fun and upbeat,” said Hulsey. “Clogging is so high energy, and this dance is especially so.”
For the evening gown competition, Hulsey will wear a white designer gown with pearls and sparkling beading. “I feel beautiful and confident in this dress,” she said. “It has a more simple design than other gowns that I have worn, but it is exactly what I wanted for Miss South Carolina.”
Hulsey said she is grateful for her family and friends who have been working behind the scenes to help her get ready for the competition. Her mother has arranged many of her daughter’s guest appearances and is the organizer of packing and wardrobe.
“I think she’s more of a wreck than anyone because she is the one making sure that I have everything that I need … taps for my shoes, a sewing kit, all of the things that make a difference at the last minute,” she said. “But everyone is very excited.”
For Hulsey, it’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the experience. “I can’t wait for it to all come together.”