COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If the banners and stage lights inside the Township Auditorium don't give it away, the dreams of nearly fifty women will.
"This will be my fourth year competing to be Miss South Carolina," said Anna Catherine English, Miss River City, "which sounds a little crazy, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it."
"This is my last year," said Maegan Garner, Miss Columbia. "I age out this year, but I know one way or another, God has great plans for me. It's going to be bitter sweet and my life will change one way or the other, and I'm hoping for Miss SC."
The contestants have practiced, prepared and shared their hearts in their communities, and this Saturday night one woman will be chosen to be the next Miss South Carolina. Nobody knows the path better than the woman whose shoes they hope to fill.
"I definitely never anticipated this being as great as it has," said Ali Rogers, Miss South Carolina 2012.
Rogers was one of the last two contestants standing for the title of Miss America in January. "It didn't seem like it was happening and then I finally realized, like 'Holy cow, I could win Miss America here,'" said Rogers.
While she finished first runner-up, she says she wouldn't have it any other way. "I knew what opportunities, I'd have here in South Carolina to make a difference," she added.
Rogers has driven more than 60,000 miles across the state sharing her heart and her platform Making a Difference for Children with Disabilities. "All of the hundreds of kids I've gotten to meet and have had the opportunity to be a part of their story and to get to know their families… that as a whole has been the best part," said Rogers.
Thanks to social media, her message has spread nationally. Rogers has more than 16,700 Twitter followers. "I do try to keep people involved and keep them up to date on what's going on," said Rogers. When she hands over her crown, she says she'll keep tweeting. "I'll probably be a little more boring on Twitter and Instagram than before, but I'll be a normal college kid again," she added.
The communications major is headed back to Clemson after a year-off, but first she'll have to pass on her title. "I just can't imagine what it's going to be like to place that crown on the next Miss South Carolina's head," said Rogers.
She says that's ultimately because it's something she never expected it for herself. "I never saw my future as being Miss South Carolina. So to realize that God has such bigger and better plans in store than you can ever imagine… I try to show the girls that win or lose, God has incredible plans in store," said Rogers.
Rogers says she's won $63,000 dollars in scholarships through the Miss South Carolina and Miss America pageants. While she's currently on a full scholarship at Clemson, she says her winnings will allow her to pursue higher education.
The Miss South Carolina finals are this Saturday at 7pm at the Township Auditorium. Nearly 50 women will compete for the title of Miss South Carolina, while more than 50 teens will vie for the chance to be Miss South Carolina Teen. For more information visit: http://www.miss-sc.org/.
The winner will receive a $20,000 scholarship and the chance to represent South Carolina at the Miss America pageant this September.