Smithfield Herald

Miss Johnston County wins state title

Miss NC 2013 - Johna Edmonds
Miss NC 2013 - Johna Edmonds Lenn Long /

“This is Miss North Carolina.”

Johna Edmonds has a new way of introducing herself after the N.C. State graduate student won the title of 2013 Miss Carolina Saturday night.

“I did it last night for the first time,” Edmonds, a graduate student who has focused her career on promoting children’s literacy, said Sunday. “I’m getting more used to it. It has a nice ring to it.”

Competing in the scholarship pageant as Miss Johnston County, the Lumberton native edged out Miss Capital City Jessie Smith to win a $12,500 scholarship.

Edmonds sang “Feeling Good,” made famous by the late jazz artist Nina Simone, at the show at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh. Edmonds has dedicated herself over recent years to her platform, “Readers to Leaders: Promoting Literacy in America’s Youth.” She serves on the board of directors for the Helps Education Fund, an organization started by N.C. State professor John Begeny to support educators and improve learning outcomes. She also volunteers at the YMCA, among other activities, to help children with reading.

She will have to put her pursuit of a master’s degree in accounting on hold to serve as Miss North Carolina, a title passed on to her by Garner native Arlie Honeycutt.

Smith took home a $3,500 scholarship as the runner-up. Miss Mount Holly Mya Kayler, Miss Queen City Tynia Brandon and Miss Greater Carolina Brieanna Hester rounded out the top five.

This marked Edmonds’ third shot at Miss North Carolina; she said she had been on the fence on whether to give it another shot in the competition’s 76th year, worried about whether she’d have time. She’s glad she did.

“I think each year you progress, and especially going from undergrad to graduate school, it makes you a more mature person, it makes you grow as an individual,” she said of the journey. “A different night, different set of judges, (perhaps it would be) a different outcome.”

She competed in her first pageant at 12 but took a break between ages 16 and 21.

She competed for Miss North Carolina as Miss Tar Heel before last year finishing in the top 10 as Miss Garner, a crown she said was particularly difficult to give up.

“It was incredible,” she said. “The town really embraces their queen like none other.”