RALEIGH — Lauren Egan, Miss Stanly County 2019, left Monday for Raleigh to join 41 other women from across North Carolina to compete for Miss North Carolina. There will be events all week leading to the final competition on Saturday.
For this year’s Miss Stanly County pageant, five local contestants competed, with Egan winning the crown. The Stanly County pageant is usually relatively small because it is one of the few remaining “closed” pageants, according to executive director of Miss Stanly County, Starla Whitley. A closed pageant means that only contestants who live, work or study in the county can compete.
On social media, Lauren posted, “I am officially checked in, unpacked, and beyond eager to begin this incredible journey! The week I’ve been working so hard towards is finally here!! I cannot wait to see what this week has in store for me and the other 41 amazing women on this journey! Stay tuned to see who will be your 82nd Miss North Carolina!!”
Egan has been a fixture in the Stanly County pageant scene for years, winning the 2011 Miss Stanly County Outstanding Teen before heading to Pfeiffer University, where she graduated in 2017 before beginning a career in medical sales.
Her talent is voice and during the Stanly County competition she performed Lee Greenwood’s classic “I’m Proud to be an American.” At Miss North Carolina she will sing “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.
“This is one that’s been a favorite of hers for many, many years,” Whitley said. “She told me she just felt it down deep inside, and I told her to go with what her heart was telling her.”
For her social impact platform, Lauren chose to work with veterans and raise awareness of the suicide risk many face upon returning from war. With her grandfather and many friends being veterans, it is an issue that she feels very strongly about. Lauren has worked with the Veterans Administration in Stanly County and in other parts of the state on the issue.
Whitley said approachability is the key to being a good titleholder in the Miss America system. “The young lady who wears that crown, she is in the spotlight, so she’s got to be somebody who is ready at any given moment, because it is a job,” said Whitley. “It isn’t just a beauty pageant. Being able to get up in front of a crowd and speak at any given moment when you’re getting hit left and right with questions. You’ve got to be on your toes.”
Since the Miss America Pageant has made some changes in recent years, including things like removing the swimsuit competition, it’s been more of a “sisterhood,” according to Whitley. “There’s more of a bond. They make appearances now together across the state. It helps them to grow. It empowers women. It’s not just about the typical ‘beauty pageant’ anymore.”
Whitley said this can be more difficult now in the age of social media. “You’ve got to be a perfect role model — a mentor,” said Whitley. “They have to be very careful because eyes are watching them at all times on social media.”
But Whitley believes they have prepared for this week and Egan has put in the work to excel. “She’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to see her on that stage. She has worked diligently preparing for the job of Miss NC and is definitely ready.”
Whitley says that while Stanly County has had some contestants move on to the top 15, the county has not had anyone place in the top five “in quite some time.” All eyes will be on Egan as she sings, answers judges’ questions and represents everyone back home in hopes of being the next Miss North Carolina. The Miss North Carolina Finals will be broadcast by Raleigh’s ABC 11 and streamed at abc11.com.