Burkholder and 32 other contestants will participate in the 2012 Miss Georgia Pageant from June 20 to 23 at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus. The winner of that competition will go on to compete for a shot at the Miss America title next January.
Burkholder, 20, will attempt to be crowned the fourth consecutive Miss Georgia from Cobb County.
However, the 5-foot-8 University of Mississippi senior and English education major is not sweating from any pressure to continue the pageant winning streak. After all, the reason she entered pageant competition was the result of a bet with a Walton High School classmate.
“He bet me that I would win; I didn’t think that I would win,” she said of the 2009 Miss Raider Pageant at Walton. “I lost the bet, but won the pageant.”
The rest is history, as they say.
Burkholder went on to win Georgia’s National Teenager and America’s National Teenager competitions. She was crowned Miss Rome 2011, which allowed her to compete last summer at Miss Georgia, where she received the 2011 Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Maker Award for raising the most money for the pageant national community service project.
Since first entering the pageant circuit, service and scholarship have become important qualities for Burkholder, she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed competing and interviewing,” she said. “It’s helped a lot with my confidence and has helped pay for school as well.”
At Miss Georgia, Burkholder plans to perform a lyrical dance to “I Stand” that she’s been rehearsing three days a week. On stage, she plans to wear a red full-length evening gown before the judges. And to show off the results of exercising four days weekly, she’ll wear a white bikini in the swimsuit competition.
Last August, Burkholder was selected as the 2012 Miss Cobb County, winning a $10,000 cash scholarship in the process. She described her past year of speeches, parades and travel as “amazing.” Meeting Bobby Cox and Gov. Nathan Deal were two highlights.
Pageant insider Chuck Fallis said he understands why the panel of judges selected Burkholder to represent the county in the state contest. She has an “excellent chance” to be crowned Miss Georgia, he said.
“In addition to being beautiful and talented, Stephanie is an honors student at the University of Mississippi,” Fallis said. “She has been focused on serving others since before she even entered a pageant. She is thoroughly committed to both her personal platform, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and to the Children’s Miracle Network, which is Miss America’s platform. Stephanie possesses all of the traits that judges look for in a Miss America.”
Burkholder is the daughter of Steve Burkholder and Susan Jenkins.