AU grad student crowned Miss DC

Briana Kinsey describes her journey to the Miss America stage

AU grad student crowned Miss DC

Briana Kinsey, an AU graduate student, was crowned Miss D.C. on June 18. She was named third runner-up in the national Miss America competition on Sept. 10. 

An AU graduate student stepped away from finals in June and onto the Miss America stage, taking home the crown for Miss D.C. on June 18.

Briana Kinsey, a 24-year-old AU graduate student studying pre-med, will compete for the national “Miss America” title on Sept. 10 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“It was very surreal, I did not think I was going to win. I had just watched the crowning video a few days ago and the look on my face, I was very shocked,” Kinsey said in July.

Kinsey wasn’t always ready to step into the spotlight. In a phone interview, Kinsey said that she started entering beauty pageants when she was 14 years old to gain confidence, make friends and learn important life skills, such as effective communication.

Recalling her early high school days, Kinsey said people used to describe her as “the type of person who couldn’t speak to strangers [she] didn’t know.” However, with each year that she competed, Kinsey and those around her began to notice a change. Her confidence grew as she stepped out of her comfort zone.

“You really take away those life lessons,” said Kinsey, referring to the different parts of pageantry, such as interviewing and stage presence, that allowed her to become “much more confident today” than when she was as a child.

Following her acceptance to the University of Alabama in 2011, Kinsey continued to compete in local and state pageants from 2011 to 2015 to earn scholarship money. Her passion for medical work and finding a cure for diabetes led her to AU, where she is following a pre-med track with a goal of graduating in fall 2017.

“Coming to American University was an opportunity for me to experience a different college culture,” Kinsey said. “American made a new city a lot less intimidating.”

Despite initial misgivings, Kinsey said she has felt at home both in D.C. and at AU. Nicole Bonan, who was Kinsey’s teaching assistant in a cell biology course, said Kinsey’s relaxed nature and work ethic make the age-old saying “a pleasure to have in class” ring true.

“Briana has an amazing sense of humor,” Bonan said. Kinsey’s honesty and straightforwardness makes people laugh “when [they] least expect it,” she said.

After graduation, Kinsey hopes to stay in D.C. and attend medical school. She plans to keep her pageant roots intact, acting as a big sister and mentor for girls pursuing a path in pageantry.

The biggest lesson that Kinsey hopes to pass on is the importance of having solid motivation behind pageant involvement, something that she says helped her stay grounded throughout years of competition.

For Kinsey, earning valuable life skills and competing for scholarship money to fulfill her academic dreams has kept her motivated through 10 years of pageantry.

“Make sure you’re competing for the right reasons,” Kinsey said, addressing girls interested in pageantry. “Make sure you have a ‘why.’”

Tune in to ABC on Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. EST to watch Kinsey compete in the national “Miss America” contest.

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