Carli Batson is a rising senior at Appalachian State University.
The 21-year-old was crowned Miss N.C. 2021 at High Point Theater after entering pageants three years ago.
Batson said the scholarship money earned through the competitions will allow her to graduate college and future education without any debt.
"Just this year's competition I was able to walk away with $22,000 towards my education," Batson said. "Over my past three years involved in the Miss America organization, I've been completely debt-free with my undergraduate degree and I'm set up to earn my master's degree."
Batson said financing her education without the help of loans would have not been possible without the scholarship competitions, which she learned about in her hometown of Wilmington while in high school. Batson is hoping to use her title now to encourage others.
"I would say just look at me," Batson said. "I come from a blue-collar shift-working family. I'm going to be a first-generation college graduate. We don't come from much but anyone can get up there and anyone can pursue opportunities for scholarship, even if it's in a pageant kind of competition."
Batson is hoping to support the arts and theater with her social impact initiative as Miss NC.
"My social impact initiative as we call it now is Carolina Cares," Batson said. "Which supports the needs of performing arts communities in need if you're familiar with the Broadway Cares initiative in New York City, it's kind of in the footsteps of that in state of North Carolina. We take Carolina blue buckets into theatres, collect money and that money is given directly back to those communities in need for their use."
Batson will represent North Carolina at the 100th Miss America in Connecticut in December