Greenwood’s Kirby Elizabeth Self, 18, said she is still trying to catch her breath after being crowned Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2018.
The November competition was in North Charleston at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and is the official state preliminary to the Miss Teen USA pageant. That same weekend at the same location, the 2018 Miss South Carolina USA pageant was conducted, a preliminary for the Miss USA competition. Both pageants had representation from the Lakelands.
Lakelands women who competed along with Self at the state level:
- Ivory Baylor of Greenwood, representing McCormick in Miss SC Teen USA.
- Siblings Scarlett Manley and Charley Manley, both of Greenwood. Scarlett Manley represented Mountain Lakes in Miss SC Teen USA and Charley Manley represented Greenwood in the 2018 Miss South Carolina USA pageant.
- Mae-Ann Webb of Ridge Spring, represented Lexington in Miss SC South Carolina USA.
In the teen division, Greenwood’s Charley Manley was named third runner-up. In the miss division, Mae-Ann Webb, representing Lexington was fourth runner-up.
Contestants were judged equally in categories of fitness, interview and evening gown.
Self, who competed at the state level representing the Upstate, goes on to represent South Carolina in the Miss Teen USA competition during the summer of 2018.
Self told the Index-Journal that she didn’t compete in her first pageant until a student at Emerald High School.
Self, a Clemson University freshman and former high school track and field standout, said learning to walk in heels was tough. Entering pageants initially, she said, was a “step out” of her comfort zone.
Self is a state champion in the 400-meter hurdles and two-time state champion in triple jump.
Self says said scholarship pageants are much more than skin deep.
“The opportunity to meet people and the chance to represent my state are two reasons I choose to compete,” Self said. “Today’s women are strong, empowered and driven.”
When asked whether scholarship pageants are still relevant, Self said, “I believe pageants are relevant because of personal development young women receive through preparing for competition.”
Self said the South Carolina Teen USA competition “empowers women and encourages finding your voice and living your life with a purpose.”
She has twice received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Better Business Bureau’s Student of Integrity Award and the Young Entrepreneurs Award.
A political science major double minoring in communications and nonprofit leadership, Self said she aspires to obtain a law degree and continue working with nonprofits. She is on the Clemson University water ski team and participates in women’s chorus.
“The Miss South Carolina Teen USA pageant offers young women hands-on opportunities to advance personal and professional goals,” Self said. “Personally, I would love to use the title to encourage volunteerism, debut my invention and further a career in modeling and acting.”
Her platform developed through the pageant organization is “Service with Self: Millenials with a Mission.”
To that end, Self said she enjoys working with people with mental and physical disabilities and promoting youth leadership through volunteerism.
“I plan to travel South Carolina, visiting local YMCA branches to speak to young children about youth leadership and to use my title to help people with mental and physical disabilities.”
Self said she has a passion for working with the disabled and mentoring youth.
“Combining this with my experience and appreciation for sports, reaching out to branches of the YMCA appeals to me,” Self said, noting one of her goals is to “create positive change in the way we treat and perceive others.”
Last year, Self said she had the opportunity to share the Miss South Carolina Teen USA stage with the organization’s first physically disabled contestant, Nila Morton, who uses a wheelchair for mobility.
“I knew right away this organization was the right place for me,” Self wrote the Index-Journal, via email.
Self said it is rewarding when young women entering their first pageants contact her for advice and help. She has worked with young women from a variety of backgrounds, who have competed in area pageants at the high school level and beyond.
Among those she has worked with is Ivory Baylor, who competed in Miss SC Teen USA, representing McCormick.
“She is an Emerald City Elite track and field teammate,” Self said.
Baylor, 16, is a sophomore at Greenwood High School and Miss SC Teen USA was her first larger-scale pageant.
“Kirby and I connected in high school and through track and competing in hurdles,” Baylor said. “We found out that we both do pageants. She’s athletic and beautiful and I asked for her guidance. She’s been doing this longer than I have.”
Baylor said pageants are great for teaching you “to be beautiful inside and out, no matter what you have been through.”
“My mom actually put me in pageants when I was younger because I was very shy,” Baylor said. “She thought it would be a good way to come out of my shell. It showed me how to be confident in my own skin.”
In September 2016, Baylor said she sustained burns from a grease fire while she was cooking. She spent time at the Augusta Burn Center.
“I didn’t expect to go through that,” Baylor said. “About a month after that, I decided I would still compete in pageants. I wanted to show everyone, no matter what happens, you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Baylor was named Miss Freshman at GHS in 2016.
“Women can do anything and beauty pageants are just one way to feel confident and just have fun. … It takes a lot of courage to get up on stage. Scholarships come along with it, and that’s a plus.”
Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518