Jerica Richardson, a fourth-year BME major, is currently participating in the Miss Georgia USA Pageant, one of the subsidiaries of the Trump Miss USA Pageant.
Richardson said her bid for Miss Georgia USA occurred at the end of the Spring 2010 semester. She made and announced her decision to run on the final day of exams.

From the start, Richardson’s bid has been community-driven.

“At the beginning, I put together a website, and it tracks from beginning to end how the pageant is actually going,” Richardson said.

Richardson has maintained the site with updates on the status of the competition, keeping her supporters in the loop as much as possible. In addition, she created a Facebook page called “Jerica for Miss Georgia USA,” where supporters can keep track of her progress. At the time of writing, the group had 526 fans.

“All in all, it’s been fun. A couple weeks ago, we had the pageant seminar and got to meet who was organizing the whole thing and the other contestants…People affiliated with pageant came and told us what it took to win, followed—of course—by saying that we’re all winners. Really, it’s just supposed to get everyone in one place so they can understand what they’re signing up for,” Richardson said of the pageant process so far.

Richardson said the interview process can be intense. According to her, the interviews take place in an almost assembly-line fashion, where contestants pass through a gauntlet of judges in rapid succession. Contestants have 10 minutes to present themselves to each judge, and they then move to the next judge in line while another contestant takes their place.

The judges come from a variety of backgrounds, so candidates cannot rely on the same method of presenting themselves working for each judge.

“There are different personalities. I remember when I did Miss Teen Georgia, one of the judges was an engineer, and another was really involved in her community. They had two very different approaches to trying to figure out who I was,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the pageant is good reinforcing self-confidence in the contestants.

“You’re going on-stage and displaying every aspect of yourself while getting judged on each one, so you really have to develop thick skin. And you still have to smile the entire time,” Richardson said.

As judges pay an excruciating amount of attention to each detail of the pageant, contestants have to put an equally excruciating amount of attention into their preparations. Richardson says she is currently trying to find a suit that walks the line between being lady-like and professional.

In the pageant, Richardson is running as Miss Metropolitan to reflect her involvement in the Atlanta area. If she wins, she will go on to represent Georgia in the Miss USA pageant. Her responsibilities would include being an advocate for breast and ovarian cancer awareness and research in Georgia. Richardson also hopes to use the position to encourage service projects in education.

Richardson is originally from New Orleans but has lived all over the southeastern US, including North Carolina, Alpharetta and Marietta before moving back to New Orleans. Her family moved to Atlanta when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Richardson got involved in the Miss Georgia Pageant shortly afterward.

“The last move was more unexpected, obviously, but it was time…I came up with the hurricane in ‘05. The next year I decided, why not do a pageant? I did Miss Teen Georgia. It was very interesting; like I said, I wasn’t a Georgia native, so I didn’t know too much about Georgia when it came time for the interviews. I still did fairly well; I was in the top 15, so I went on to the finals night,” Richardson said.

In addition to studying BME, Richardson is minoring in Public Policy and pursuing pre-law and pre-med certificates. Her current post-graduation plan is to go into patent law to apply her background in BME. She only plans to do this for a few years, as her long-term plan is to attend medical school and specialize in neurosurgery.

On campus, Richardson is the founder of the Society of Step. Through this organization, she says she has made several valuable connections with Atlanta community service organizations, politicians and celebrities. One of the more prominent connections she made was with Usher, whose service organization Usher’s New Look hosted an event at Tech a few years ago and partnered with the Society of Step.

Richardson is in the final stages of preparation, as the pageant is fast approaching. The rehearsal will take place on Thursday, Nov. 18, and the pageant itself will occur on Nov. 19 and 20.