06/25/14 — Miss NC Beth Stovall

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Miss NC Beth Stovall

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 25, 2014 1:46 PM

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One of the official photographs after Beth Stovall's crowning as Miss North Carolina Saturday.

Miss North Carolina 2014 Beth Stovall doesn't have much time to enjoy her new crown.

She is already off training for the next step in her journey -- one she hopes will end with a Miss America crown to add to her collection this fall.

Pageant organizers advised the 34 contestants in Saturday's state pageant to "pack a suitcase" in the event they won. The next stop after the pageant was a trip to a new apartment in Raleigh and intensive work to get ready for the Miss America pageant in September.

So far, all of it -- the crown, the win -- are all still a little hard to believe for the 20-year-old Miss North Carolina.

But for Miss Stovall, the overwhelming feeling is gratitude -- and humility, she said.

"I had a little bag together with a couple of things in it just in case because they do tell you to pack a bag, but I couldn't even tell you where that bag was when I won because I truly was not expecting to win. I truly was not," she said Tuesday. "I'm so thankful and so excited, I still can't even believe it, that it has happened, but I did not go into the competition thinking, 'Oh, I've got this in the bag.'"

She said her parents, Dan and Patti Stovall of Goldsboro, helped move her into the new apartment on Monday. The next day she was en route to Sanford to pick up a 2014 Toyota Camry, part of her prize package from the Miss North Carolina organization.

She also will receive a $12,500 scholarship and an estimated $750 in scholarship money earned through victories in the the preliminaries -- she received the talent and swimsuit awards during earlier nights of competition.

From now until early September, her job as the state queen will entail everything from photo shoots and appearances to readying for the next round of competition, the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, which will be broadcast on Sept. 14.

That's not much time, said Beth Knox, executive director of the Miss North Carolina organization.

"The process is really quick to make sure she's ready to go to Atlantic City in September," she said. "When Hailey Best won the state title in June 2011, she had until January to ready for the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas."

Miss Stovall, a 2011 graduate of Rosewood High School, is a rising senior vocal performance major at UNC-Wilmington. She will take a year off from her studies to concentrate on the upcoming pageant.

In some ways, the preparation began more than two years ago, when she set her sights on Miss Goldsboro, winning that crown in 2013. It provided her first experience at the state pageant, where she won a talent award and placed in the Top 10.

Returning to compete at the state level this year, as Miss Greater Sampson County, she said she knew more of what to expect and felt better prepared.

"I wrote in my journal every day and I prayed every day," she said. "Every time I stepped foot on the stage I made sure that I was not going to have any regrets after the week was over, that no matter what happened I was proud of what I had done and what I had brought to the competition. I think I did that. I'm very happy with how things worked out."

Perhaps the second time around quelled a few of the initial jitters, too.

"I was just really calm," she said. "I think that having a year under my belt is what really helped me feel that way. I wasn't sure what the week would hold. I had already been through the process once before (and) knew what I needed to do."

And even though the pageant process is often portrayed as intense, Miss Stovall said it has brought her new friends and new opportunities to serve.

"Going into it I was just really excited to be back and so thankful to be back," she said. "I'd made so many friendships last year, and I was really excited to get to see some of those girls again and just spend the week with them again because they are all such amazing girls. This organization is just filled with girls dedicated to service and bettering their communities through their personal platform.

Miss Stovall said she also had a greater understanding of the "job" of Miss North Carolina, which motivated her approach this time out.

"My No. 1 goal was to just be better than I was last year, in everything that I did, that was in the back of my head -- 'Just do better than you did last year, give it your all, do your absolute best, so that you can leave with no regrets,'" she said. "When I won the swimsuit prelim, I was so surprised. I was absolutely more surprised than I was to win the entire pageant. I was so surprised but extremely grateful that everything I had worked for had paid off.

"I was even more excited when I won the talent award because that meant I was a double preliminary winner, but I didn't let that go to my head because it still comes down to the judges."

Despite the four-point sparkler that has found a home atop her head, she said she is still processing her new title.

"It still hasn't, it really hasn't hit me yet. I love to write, I journal a lot and I have not journaled yet," she said. "I have not had time to open up my book and write down everything that has happened. When I'm alone and I open up that book, that's when it's going to hit me."

Now that she's traveling the state in the new role, it might be awhile before she gets back to Wayne County, but that doesn't mean it's ever far from her thoughts.

"I'm a Goldsboro girl and always will be, always have been, born and raised," she said. "That will never leave. That's who I am to my core and I'm so glad that the people that I grew up with, they're so supportive. I have a new title, but I'm still Beth, and I hope that everyone remembers that.

"I love my hometown and as soon as I can come back and visit, I'm going to be so excited to. It's very important for (people to) know -- I felt their prayers all week long and prayer paid off."

In the meantime, social media is being changed up to follow her on the road to Miss America. Find her on Facebook at Miss North Carolina, Twitter at 2014missnc and Instagram at missnc14.