Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Outstanding Teens crowned for 2020
It’s not the new year quite yet, but Gastonia and Gaston County already have their beauty queens for 2020.
The winners were crowned on Saturday, November 23 during the annual Miss Gastonia/Miss Gaston County scholarship competition, which was held at Stuart W. Cramer High School. Fourteen young women competed for scholarships, prizes, and the chance to advance to Miss North Carolina next summer.
The new queens are Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio, Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen Keelie Jones, Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares, and Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen Alexandria Foy. Below is brief information about each one:
▪ Miss Gastonia 2020 is Julia DeSerio. She is the chorus and piano teacher at Crest Middle School in Shelby and graduated from Gardner-Webb University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in music education and voice. For the talent competition, she performed “Quando M’en Vo” from Puccini’s “La Boheme.” Her community service program is titled “Art: The Highest Form of Hope.”
▪ Miss Gaston County 2020 is Mariana Linares. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a degree in mathematical business. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. For the talent competition, she performed a jazz dance routine to “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” Her community service program is titled “Full STEAM Ahead: Promoting the Arts in a STEM Future.”
▪ Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen 2020 is Keelie Jones. She is a student at East Henderson High School and plans to attend college to study biology, computer science, and dance. Her dream is to dance professionally in New York City. For the talent competition, she performed a tap dance routine to “I Feel Good.” Her community service program is titled “Seize the Day: Raising Seizure and Disability Awareness.”
▪ Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen 2020 is Alexandria Foy. She is a student at Stuart W. Cramer High School where she earned the school’s English and math academic awards. She plans to attend UNC-Charlotte to pursue a career in mental health counseling. For the talent competition, she performed a dance to “Once and For All.” Her community service program focuses on suicide prevention.
Bailey Beam was the first runner-up for Miss Gastonia/Miss Gaston County and also won the congeniality award. Valeri Umesh was the first runner-up in the Outstanding Teen division.
The show’s theme was “See Clearly,” and it included performances by the Miss Gastonia Dancers from Studio Elite in Cramerton and vocalist Adrienne Perry Sulkey. A special production number featured the Miss Gastonia Princesses, and another production number paid tribute to 75 years of pageantry for Miss Gastonia. Todd Hagans and Tiffany Payne Costner, Miss Gastonia 2013, co-hosted the show.
The contestants competed in private interview, talent, physical fitness (teens only), evening wear, and on-stage question categories. For the first time, the pageant did not include a swimsuit portion.
The show also featured Miss Gastonia 2019 Brianna Rochford, Miss Gaston County 2019 Mandy Rogers, Miss Mount Holly 2019 Lindsey Woodward, Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen 2019 Allie Stafford, and Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen 2019 Jaylen Holt, who passed on their crown.
Cash and in-kind scholarships totaling more than $220,000 were made available to the participants. Belmont Abbey College, Cleveland Community College, Gardner-Webb University, Gaston College, and Paul Mitchell - The School in Gastonia contributed in-kind scholarships again this year.
Young women ages 18-25 who live, attend college, or work full-time in Gaston and surrounding counties are eligible to compete in the Miss Gastonia/Gaston County division. The Outstanding Teen competition is for ages 13-17 – the teen portion is open to girls from across the state.
▪ Bailey Beam, 22, daughter of Scott and Sherri Beam of Lincolnton; a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University; talent is vocal.
▪ Avery Combs, 15, daughter of Angela Combs and Greg Combs of Denton; a student at Southwestern Randolph High School; talent is vocal.
▪ Julia DeSerio, 23, daughter of Kerri Herr of Shelby; a graduate of Gardner-Webb University; talent is classical vocal.
▪ Jasmine Dinh, 18, daughter of David and Christine Dinh of Forest City; a student at Isothermal Community College; talent is lyrical dance.
▪ Lorelei Elberson, 13, daughter of Scotty and Kristen Elberson of Denton; a student at E. Lawson Brown Middle School; talent is tap dance.
▪ Alexandria Foy, 16, daughter of Clifton and Rebecca Foy of Gastonia; a student at Stuart W. Cramer High School; talent is dance.
▪ Olivia Foy, 22, daughter of Clifton and Rebecca Foy of Gastonia; a student at Gaston College; talent is color guard flag routine.
▪ Kaya Hohensee, 14, daughter of Peter and Caroline Hohensee of Huntersville; a student at Christ the King High School; talent is vocal.
▪ Keelie Jones, 17, daughter of Jessica Valverde of Hendersonville; a student at East Henderson High School; talent is tap dance.
▪ Mariana Linares, 23, daughter of Sylvia Robles-Linares and Mario Linares of Charlotte; a graduate of Wake Forest University; talent is jazz dance.
▪ Madison Mace, 20, daughter of James and Leslie Clay of Hickory; a student at Lenoir-Rhyne University; talent is vocal.
▪ Savannah Royals, 14, daughter of Shannon and Justin Walter and Steve and Ainsley Royals of Greensboro; a student at Cornerstone Charter Academy; talent is comedic monologue.
▪ Valeri Umesh, 16, daughter of Saundra Umesh and Umesh Raghavan of Waxhaw; a student at Cuthbertson High School; talent is Bollywood dance.
▪ Jazmine Washington, 19, daughter of Brooks Washington and Felicia Washington of Charlotte; a student at UNC-Greensboro; talent is color guard flag routine.
Up next is the 2020 Miss Mount Holly and Miss Mount Holly’s Outstanding Teen competition, which will be held in January. The Miss Mount Holly queens will join the Gastonia and Gaston County queens to round out Gaston’s contingent of beauty queens who will represent the area at Miss North Carolina. The state pageant is set for June 16-20 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.