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VCU pharmacy student Camille Schrier crowned Miss America 2020

Schrier, who was named Miss Virginia in June, competed on a platform that highlighted STEM education and drug safety.

RVAHub Staff

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With a message of drug safety and a burst of colorful foam, Virginia Commonwealth University pharmacy student Camille Schrier wowed the judges and won Miss America.

Her talent — a dramatic science demonstration of the catalytic conversion of hydrogen peroxide that shot bursts of colored foam high into the air — launched her over many of the other finalists, who showed off more traditional skills such as dancing and ballad singing.

The Virginia Tech graduate has degrees in biochemistry and systems biology and is pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy at the VCU School of Pharmacy. Her campaign initiative focused on educating people on the dangers of misusing medications including opioids.

“I am so proud to break stereotypes about who Miss America can be,” she told the judges.

Schrier’s science demonstration had already won the preliminary talent competition — and $2,000 — earlier in the week.

“We need to show that Miss America can be a scientist and that a scientist can be Miss America,” Schrier said during the interview round of the competition Thursday night in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Schrier won the right to compete by winning the title of Miss Virginia in June with the help of her science-related talent exhibition. That win and the video of her demonstration led millions around the world to see her story on TV news reports, social media and websites.

“I’m trying to be like Bill Nye [the science guy],” she told VCU News this summer, explaining her approach. “That’s what I’m going for. I want to get kids excited, but I don’t want it to be boring.”

Since her June win, Schrier has taken a year off from her studies at VCU to tour the state and share her campaign platform of STEM awareness and drug safety. She has spoken about science and medication to hundreds of schoolchildren and on national TV shows, including “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and “CBS This Morning.”

Scientists have taken notice. In November, General Electric Co. invited her to speak at its laboratories in New York. “From one scientist to another, you’re doing us women in STEM proud and inspiring a whole new generation of female scientists,” Fiona Ginty of GE Research told Schrier in a video inviting her to the labs.

Camille Schrier on stage at the 2019 Miss Virginia competition.
Schrier donned a lab coat and safety goggles last summer and turned the talent portion of the Miss Virginia competition into a science experiment. She repeated the experiment Thursday to win the Miss America competition. (Photo courtesy of Miss Virginia Organization)

Schrier, a Pennsylvania native, said she was an athletic kid, never a “girly-girl.” She attributes her love of science and nature to an eighth-grade science class. When she was 14, she became interested in pageants as a creative outlet.

The process taught her more than she expected, she said. “It taught me a lot about being professional … in terms of just being able to prepare a resume, go into an interview confidently and how to prepare for something like that.”

Schrier participated in pageants from age 14 until she started college four years later. She graduated cum laude from Virginia Tech in 2018 with degrees in biochemistry and systems biology. She entered VCU’s Doctor of Pharmacy program last year.

Lauren Caldas, Pharm.D., an assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy, taught Schrier in a challenging first-year pharmacy foundations course.

“In a class where a lot of students can become very stressed, she shined and was just a wonderful person to be around,” Caldas said. “She was always an example of professionalism.”

Around the time Schrier started pharmacy school, she learned that the Miss America competition had been revamped — eliminating the swimsuit competition and emphasizing professionalism and social impact. That, and the possibility of scholarships, reignited her interest. The Miss America organization says it is the nation’s top provider of scholarships for young women.

Building on her pharmacy education, Schrier decided she would make her platform “Mind Your Meds: Drug Safety and Abuse Prevention from Pediatrics to Geriatrics,” focusing on drug safety and abuse prevention. Since Schrier did not have much performing experience, she realized she would have to find an entertaining way to highlight her talents.

After looking online for science experiments for kids, she came across an experiment sometimes called “elephant toothpaste” that demonstrates the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using potassium iodide as a catalyst. The result is a dramatic burst of foam.

She acquired some industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide and practiced the experiment in the driveway of her apartment complex, adding food coloring to the foam. When she tried it at an outdoor car wash, the foam shot out so violently it hit the ceiling, staining it. (She scrubbed it clean with bleach.)

We need to show that Miss America can be a scientist and a scientist can be Miss America.

Her science experiment helped her win a regional title, Miss Dominion, making her eligible for the Miss Virginia competition. Because the Miss Virginia competition was held in a large space, she made her experiment bigger, with larger flasks and even more dramatic jets of brightly colored foam. She won the competition’s preliminary talent award.

“I expected to hear some feedback saying that my talent wasn’t really a talent,” Schrier said. “But I will tell you, I was overwhelmed with messages saying how cool my talent was, how refreshing it was and how everyone was impressed that I was able to tie education and science into something that was also entertaining.”

Schrier also has a personal reason for her interest in medical science. She is living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic condition that affects body tissue, joints and blood vessels. She was diagnosed when she was 11.

“It definitely got me interested in science and medicine because there’s no treatment for this right now,” Schrier said. “There was a lot of genetic information regarding EDS and genetics was something I was always really interested in. This was a further interest, in terms of genetics, for me to look at and think about how that could help us diagnose people.”

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Fox Elementary Teacher Train Coming to a Street Near You Today

Fox teachers and staff are driving through the area to say hello and goodbye to their students. Give them so love back.

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Fox teachers are driving through the district to say hello to their students. Show them how much y’all miss and appreciate them. Make a poster, wave, give a virtual high-five from a safe distance to cheer them on.

Parade Route

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VIDEO: Richmond Police seek suspect in St. Patrick’s Day burglary at VCU area vape shop

WATCH: The suspect can be seen on surveillance footage tucking and rolling through the glass of Kulture’s front door before smashing and grabbing merchandise.

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Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect in a commercial burglary that occurred on St. Patrick’s Day at Kulture, a vape shop near VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

At approximately 6:10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, officers responded to a business in the 1200 block of West Cary Street for the report of a commercial burglary. When officers arrived, a witness stated she heard glass breaking from the business next door.

Video surveillance shows a man jump headfirst into the glass door of the business. He’s then seen smashing a cabinet and reportedly stole thousands of dollars of merchandise.

The suspect was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, black pants, and a black backpack.

Anyone with information about the identity of this suspect is asked to call Third Precinct Detective R. Bailey at (804) 646-3192 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Councilperson Stephanie Lynch taking Monthly Meeting to Facebook Live

The 5th District first Facebook Live meeting is on Thursday, March 26 at 6pm. The agenda will include COVID information, businesses relief efforts, extended tax deadlines, and community outreach/volunteering while practicing social distancing.

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Since meeting in person is obviously off the table 5th District Councilperson Stephanie Lynch is bringing her meeting to Facebook Live. This will be happening tomorrow, Thursday, March 26th, at 6 PM. It’s also worth reminding everyone that this is uncharted territory for most and there will be technology hiccups, leaders won’t have all the answers, and patience is more valuable (only slightly) than toilet paper.

Meeting Notice

We will be attempting our first Facebook Live meeting on Thursday, March 26 at 6pm. The agenda will include COVID information, businesses relief efforts, extended tax deadlines, and community outreach/volunteering while practicing social distancing.

Please comment in the event if you have a specific topic you would like covered. If we can not get to it we will try to include it in the April newsletter and on social media.

We’ll be loading a bunch of PSAs in this event for review and sharing.

We are thinking of all of you.

Best,
Stephanie & Amy

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