Hollins University graduate wins Miss Virginia | Virginia

Miss Arlington Cecili Weber, a Hollins University graduate, was crowned 2017 Miss Virginia on Saturday night at the Berglund Performing Arts Center.

She received a $20,000 scholarship and will go on to compete in the Miss America Pageant in September.

Weber, whose hometown is Ironton, Ohio, graduated from Saint Joseph Central High School in 2013. She graduated from Hollins this year with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

Her platform was “Born Leaders” and her talent was a contemporary dance piece to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” Her favorite TV show is “Mad Men,” her favorite movie is “Marie Antoinette” directed by Sophia Coppola, her favorite food is sushi and her favorite book is “Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham.

The competition became slim for Weber after the “Parade of Cities” when only 11 contestants remained: Miss Virginia Highlands, Cameron Smith; Miss Greater Richmond, Olivia Shedd; Miss Patrick Henry Community College, Demi Richardson; Miss Piedmont Region, Carlehr Swanson; Miss Greater Prince William County, Julia Braxton; Miss Cardinal; Lauren Mitchell; Miss Northern Virginia, Alice Gyamfi; Miss Apple Blossom Festival; Casey Shepard; Roanoke Valley, Dominga Murray; and Miss State Fair of Virginia, Taylor Reynolds . The top five consisted of: Cameron Smith, Taylor Reynolds, Carlehr Swanson and Julia Braxton.

Of them, Miss State Fair of Virginia, Taylor Reynolds, was first runner-up and will receive a $8,500 scholarship. Miss Virginia Highlands, Cameron Smith, was named second runner-up and will receive a $4,500 scholarship. The third runner-up was Miss Piedmont Region, Carlehr Swanson. who will receive a $3,000 scholarship and the fourth runner up who will receive a $2,000 was Miss Greater Prince William County, Olivia Shedd.

The judges for the night’s competition were Caroline Bright, Miss Vermont 2010; Rick Tedrick, the chief financial officer of the National Rifle Association; Miamah Karmo, the founder and CEO of the Tigerlily Foundation; Baxter Sharp, the deputy prosecutor for the first Judicial District of Arkansas; and Jacqueline Cook Hedblom, Miss Virginia 2010 and an attorney and partner at Hirschler Fleischer law firm.

On Thursday night two contestants were winners in the talent and swimsuit and evening wear categories. Miss Greater Prince William County, Julia Braxton won talent and Miss Arlington, Cecili Weber, won swimsuit and evening wear.

The remaining 11 contestants competed in lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, talent and evening wear on Saturday night. The top 11’s talent performances ranged from Miss Cardinal, Lauren Mitchell’s spoken word poem to Miss Roanoke Valley’s vocal performance of “When You Believe” from the movie “The Prince of Egypt.”

They were then narrowed down to the top five and participated in a final on-stage question round, which was worth 20 percent of their overall score. Among the questions asked were those on the subject of funding for Planned Parenthood, transgendered people’s rights to their chosen bathrooms, gun violence, and children of undocumented immigrants.

The hosts for the competition were Tiffany Haas, Miss Ohio 2002; Beau Davidson, recording artist and composer; and Savannah Lane, Miss Virginia 2015. They entertained the audience between rounds with original works from composer Tommy Holcomb and producer Derek Shorter. Among these works was an original piece titled “Roanoke Shining Through,” an ode to the Star City.

Other awards were given away Saturday, such as People’ Choice that was awarded to Miss Piedmont Region, Carlehr Swanson who received a $500 scholarship. Miss Virginia Outstanding Teen went to Miss Southwestern Virginia, Issabella Jesse, who will then compete for Miss America Outstanding Teen in July, and Teen People’s Choice was awarded to Miss Mountain Laurel, Haley Day and Miss Northern Virginia, Kaitlyn Zambrana.

Two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to two Miss Virginia contestants for academics and community service. Miss Mountain Laurel, Caroline Weinroth and Miss Apple Blossom Festival, Casey Shepard who won Miss Virginia $1,000 Academic and Miss Virginia $1,000 Community Service, respectively.

The Miss Virginia Pageant gave away more than $65,000 in cash scholarships this year to women who participated in the competition.