Cheryl Schrier, who grew up in Philadelphia, says she always thought her daughter was destined for Miss America greatness.
“I just have to say I believed from the minute she was named a local title holder, I believed she was being led into this moment,” Schrier said.
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Thursday night, Schrier was about 20 rows back in the Mohegan Sun arena as Camille, a doctoral pharmacy student and a dedicated pageant girl in her teens who competed this year as Miss Virginia, with a science experiment as her talent, was crowned Miss America.
“She competed as a young girl and into her teen years,” Cheryl Schrier, a nurse who owned an electrical business in Bucks County, and herself a pageant veteran, said in a telephone interview Friday morning. “She quote unquote hung up her heels and went off to college. She decided she was pretty much done with it.”
The Schriers live in Newtown. Camille attended the Hun School in Princeton and is now a student at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Having left Atlantic City behind, the Miss America Organization offered no traditional photo-op dip in the ocean for Camille, just a predawn wake-up call and a trip to the Today Show studio in New York City, her mother said.
But the Schriers had never seen the pageant in Atlantic City, and Cheryl said Camille was not wedded to the Boardwalk for her Miss America dreams. In fact, they had, Cheryl said, taken a trip to Las Vegas to see the pageant in its earlier self-exile outside its ancestral Jersey Shore home.
And when Camille won the national Teen Ambassador pageant, the prize included a trip to New England in December, which made this year’s pageant time and place seem even more Camille’s destiny, her mother said.
Nine months ago, she decided to take a dip in the Miss America pool, signing up for a local Virginia competition. Having struggled with an eating disorder, Schrier welcomed the swimsuit-less pageant, her mother said. She also told the judges she struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and wowed them with an “elephant’s toothpaste” science experiment.
“It all unfolded in the last nine months,” Cheryl said. “She said, ‘I’m a little crazy. I think I want to do a MAO local.’ ”
Cheryl said she was proud to have her daughter be the second Miss America 2.0, and the first winner with science as her talent.
“I’m happy it’s not a pageant anymore,” she said. “"I believe she is authentically a Miss America 2.0 brand. I do believe in it.”