Congratulations are in order for Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt, who is the first runner-up for Miss America 2017. Though Miss South Carolina did not win the crown, she is the recipient of a $15,000 scholarship and will fill the high heels of Miss America 2017 should the winner, Miss Arkansas, be unable to complete her duties. And prizes aside, coming in second place at a competition that began with 52 talented women is certainly worth celebrating.
Wyatt, who performed a contemporary dance to Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water" during the talent portion of the competition, got even more personal during her interview, where she gave an eloquent and revealing response when asked if we have an immigration problem in this country.
"I myself am a quarter Japanese and my great-grandfather is an immigrant. I think America really is a nation built on immigrants," she responded. "And so this is an issue we have to come to a resolution on and be welcoming to others to come into this nation of freedom."
In addition to her many years as a dancer and her personal take on the immigration issue in the U.S., Wyatt — who hails from Clemson, South Carolina — is also passionate about working with special needs adults, which she has been doing for years.
"All of my special needs friends are so inspiring and it kind of came about through dance and my journey with them," she told The State earlier this year. "I’ve been dancing since I was 5 years old and began teaching dance to special needs adults and loved doing that all through high school, but when I left for college I wondered what becomes of them. ... I started volunteering for an organization at Clemson called “Clemson Life” and it’s a two-year program where students with special needs can learn independent living skills and they get to experience everything on a college campus. I really hope to promote that for other colleges in South Carolina and hopefully in our nation."
Congratulations to Miss South Carolina, not just for her runner-up status and scholarship, but for all of the work she does in her community and to help others. Get it, girl.