VALDOSTA -- When Brittany Joy McCalla entered her first pageant, Miss Valdosta High School, everyone said she would never win.

"It was really a dare. Everyone said I wasn't a pageant person," McCalla said. She surprised everyone, including herself, when she took the title of Miss VHS that year.

McCalla, now a freshman at Valdosta State University, has recently captured what could be her most important title yet -- Miss Thomasville.

The Miss Thomasville pageant was held Jan. 8 in conjunction with the Miss Southern Rose pageant, won by Lace Larrabee of Glennville.

In addition to the crown, McCalla won Best Interview and Best Talent, worth 40 percent and 30 percent of a contestant's total score, respectively.

McCalla, still not the traditional "pageant person," believes her fresh approach to pageantry and to life is what set her apart from the other contestants. "I'm very confident and intelligent -- aware of my talents and my flaws. I'm not out to win by being something I'm not," she said.

As Miss Thomasville, McCalla has already appeared at the DARE graduation and plans to appear at Relay for Life, the Rose Festival and many local pageants. She also plans to push her platform "The Power of One."

"The Power of One is about using your strengths to help other's weaknesses," McCalla said. The platform encompasses a wide range of mentoring and volunteerism, mostly peer-based programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

A Big Sister herself, McCalla strongly believes that peers can make a positive impact on each other. In fact, she is writing a bill with the intent of having peer-based mentoring implemented into high schools.

McCalla's platform is also her inspiration. Seeing the positive impact she can have on others encourages her keep striving towards her goals.

She especially looks forward to the opportunity to influence young girls who need strong, educated women to be their role models and sends a message to them: "It may sound clich, but you really can do anything you put your mind to -- if you set realistic goals. Go from A to B to C, not straight to Z."

"Oh, and boys are the devil," she added jokingly.

The oldest pageant in the state affiliated with the Miss America system, Miss Thomasville has the opportunity to travel in June to the RiverCenter Performing Arts Theatre in Columbus to compete for the title of Miss Georgia.

McCalla is more than excited about this opportunity and confident about her chances: "I know I would make a great Miss Georgia because I would have fun with it."

She believes self-assurance is a necessity when preparing for an event as important as Miss Georgia. "You don't go to the Miss Georgia level without the determination to win; without self-confidence, you won't go anywhere," McCalla said.

During the upcoming months, McCalla will work with interview and voice coaches and a personal trainer to ensure she is extra prepared, however, a great deal of her time will be spent pushing her platform.

McCalla is a determined women with goals of graduating magna cum laude from VSU with a double emphasis on Broadcast and Audio Journalism under the major of Mass Media, all before achieving masters and doctorate degrees. The many years of school will not, however, stifle her big dreams of becoming a VJ for MTV.

Oh, she also wants to be Miss America.

If talent, intelligence, and determination combined equal success, McCalla will have the opportunity to accomplish her dreams.

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