When Chandler Lawson begins her studies at The University of Tennessee School of Law in August, the outgoing Miss Tennessee 2012 will have two years of tuition paid in full due to her success as a five year Miss America Organization participant.
A journey that started in 2008 when she was named Miss Scenic City and peaked one year ago when she became the first Miss Chattanooga in over six decades to outright win the state title concludes on Saturday evening when she crowns the 2013 winner in Jackson but not before departing with over $30,000 in scholarships which will cover over two-thirds of her law school expenses.
The four night pageant will be web streamed at www.eplustv6.com starting Wednesday at 9pm with the 36 contestants including eight area representatives competing in the first of three preliminary rounds. The top 15 will compete in Saturday’s finals until one ultimately is chosen to succeed Ms. Lawson as the state’s goodwill ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Governor’s Official Spokesperson for Character Education in Tennessee Schools. The 2013 winner receives a $13,000 scholarship and will be a member of a Miss America Class of 2014 that will be the first in nine years to compete in Atlantic City when the pageant returns to its birthplace in September. The finals will be televised on Sunday Sept. 15, in a homecoming that is expected to attract a worldwide audience just over nine months after Ms. Lawson finished in the top 10 at the 2013 pageant in Las Vegas.
Ms. Lawson, who graduated from UT-Chattanooga last year, is not only a member of the final Miss America class to compete in Vegas, but she made Tennessee pageant history as the first state recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh bronze medal for self-development and also as the second runner-up for the prestigious Miss America Quality of Life Award for outstanding community service as the founder of 5 Loaves 4 Kids in her hometown of Tullahoma.
The area contestants hoping to inherit Ms. Lawson’s job are Miss Chattanooga Dacey Winkleman a UTC senior from Winchester majoring in Molecular Biology; Miss Country Sunshine Maria Shepherd of Rhea County who is a senior Music Education major at Lee University; Miss Dogwood Festival Melanie Rush of McMinnville who is an incoming freshman at UTC; Miss Fall Fest Madyson Foster also of Cleveland who recently graduated with degrees in Dance and Business at Birmingham-Southern College; Miss Metropolitan Jaclyn Torrento of Nashville who is a Belmont University senior majoring in Entertainment Studies; Miss Scenic City Amy Catherine Flynn of Knoxville who is a UT-Knoxville senior Marketing major and Miss Tennessee Valley Hannah Robison from Martin who is a junior Chemistry major at UT-Martin.
Hamilton County native Hannah Disterdick who now resides in Memphis will be representing the city in Jackson. The Soddy-Daisy High School and UT-Knoxville graduate is the daughter of Miss Tennessee 1982 Desiree Daniels.
Miss Chattanooga Dacey Winkleman, 22, Winchester
UT-Chattanooga Senior majoring in Molecular Biology
Talent – Baton Twirling, “River Deep, Mountain High”
Platform – OCD Isn’t As Easy as 1, 2, 3
Fun Fact – 2012 UTC Homecoming Queen
Miss Country Sunshine Maria Shepherd, 21, Cleveland
Lee University Junior majoring in Music Education and Clarinet Performance
Talent – Vocal, “Nuit Detoiles”
Platform – Alzheimer’s Awareness, Reaching to Remember Education
Fun Fact – Her crowning moment was featured on ABC’s Miss America preview show
Miss Dogwood Festival Melanie Rush 18, McMinnville
UT-Chattanooga Incoming Freshman
Talent – Acro-Routine, “Jailhouse Rock”
Platform – ALZ Can’t Remember ABCs
Miss Fall Fest Madyson Foster, 21, Cleveland
2013 Graduate, Birmingham-Southern College, Dance/Business
Talent – Contemporary Ballet en Pointe, “Palladio”
Platform – Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga
Fun Fact – Was an Extra in the film “42”
Miss Memphis Hannah Disterdick, 24, Memphis (native of Soddy-Daisy)
2012 Graduate, Lipscomb University Registered Dietician Program
2011 Graduate, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, B.S. in Nutrition
Talent – Vocal, “If I Ain’t Got You”
Platform - HEAL from Within, Healthy Eating, Active Living
Fun Fact – Tennessee’s Junior Miss 2007
Miss Metropolitan Jaclyn Torrento, 21, Nashville
Belmont University Senior majoring in Entertainment Industry Studies
Talent – Vocal, “I Know You Won’t”
Platform – Hands to Larger Service (www.handstolargerservice.com)
Fun Fact – Jumped onstage at a Boys Like Girls concert and danced with lead vocalist Martin Johnson
Miss Scenic City Amy Catherine Flynn, 22, Knoxville ( www.AmyCatherineFlynn.com )
University of Tennessee Senior majoring in Marketing/International Business
Talent – Vocal, “ (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”
Platform – Break the Silence, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Education
Fun Fact – American Idol Hollywood Finalist in 2008
Miss Tennessee Valley Hannah Robison, 19, Martin
University of Tennessee at Martin Junior majoring in Chemistry
Talent – Piano, “El Cumbanchero”
Platform – Student Advocacy for Underprivileged Children Education
Fun Fact - She has custom made sunglasses due to having very long natural eyelashes.