Fourth graders at West End Elementary had the wonderful opportunity to ask
Miss Georgia, Marianny Egurrola, any question their tiny hearts desired. On February 14, in the media center at West End, little boys straightened their collars and little girl’s eyed the crown as Egurrola explained what it was like to be Miss Georgia. However, this beauty queen had much more than her looks to offer the young students.

“I have been competing in pageants since I was seven,” said Egurrola, “and I had to overcome many fears and doubts within myself. And, let me tell you all something. I was not born in the United States. I was born in Columbia, and I thought that not being born in America would be a limitation for me to become Miss Georgia. I want you to know that it wasn’t. I had to realize that I deserved to be Miss Georgia just as much as anyone competing in the pageant. All of you
deserve to live your dream too.”

Egurrola, a University of Georgia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, talked to the youngsters about the many things she does daily to help others build a bridge to their dreams. She has created a non-profit called Sea of Smiles where she focuses on inspiring children in the States and abroad.

“I really enjoy the work I get to do for the kids in Georgia’s many counties, and I am working to get ready for the Miss U.S.A Pageant,” Egurrola explained. “I really love my job as Miss Georgia but it is a lot of responsibility. I am also working to be an actress, so my schedule is really full.” When driving home the idea that becoming a beauty queen has more to do with being goaloriented,
well-rounded, professional and educated, Egurrola started to hear questions about everything from her home country to what her favorite subject in school was.

Perhaps the most impactful part of the day was Miss Georgia’s meet-and-greet with a little princess who walks the halls of West End on a daily basis. Rachael Vallejo, a fourth grader at West End, has been diagnosed with cancer in the form of a tumor on her brain. Egurrola called her up front and placed her crown on Vallejo’s head. The room erupted in applause and cheers from her classmates and her family members looked on with tears streaming down their faces.

Today, Miss Georgia made a huge difference to a little girl who is still continuing to dream against all odds. Getting a chance to wear the crown of Miss Georgia made Vallejo, “Happy,” she said. And when she was given a chance to ask any question she wanted, she chose a smile from ear-to-ear because she was, “Shy.” As teachers and Vallejo’s mother wiped away tears, it was clear that being Miss Georgia comes with rewards that far outweigh the crown.

After a few brief words from encouragement from Constanza Sweeney, organizer of the event and part of the foundation, Intercultural Fest, Egurrola stayed for a private conversation and photo op with Vallejo and her family.

Maybe it’s best to let the princesses have some private time to talk about beauty secrets and how to change the world.