By Tessa Spencer
MOUNT PLEASANT, S. C. (WCIV)- For one Lowcountry native, beauty is more than skin deep or "Honey Boo-Boo" when it comes to competing in pageants.
Twenty-five-year old Jill Perry is a relatively late bloomer when it comes to tiaras, gowns and pageantry.
The Moncks Corner native is the first to tell you that her mother hated the idea of beauty pageants and never allowed her to compete as a young girl. Instead, she participated in dance and track and field.
"They told me to get that degree first and then I could do whatever," explains Perry.
And "whatever" came soon enough.
Jill attended Lander College for two years before transferring to the University of South Carolina. She graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism.
Competing in her first pageant at nineteen, she has intensely vied for crowns for the past two years. The fruits of her labor have been paying off.
As Miss Folly Beach 2012, Perry finished in the top fifteen in the Miss SC USA 2012 pageant.
"Miss USA is the only pageant that I've ever wanted to be in. It's just the ultimate for me."
While she did not go on to win the crown the first time around, it did not deter her from trying again.
Jill will get another chance at representing the palmetto state this week.
As the reigning Miss Columbia USA, she will compete in Miss SC USA 2013 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center November 16-17.
While the glitz, glamour and promise of fame can be enticing to the ego, Perry wants people to know that her reason for claiming the ultimate crown of Miss USA is more than meets the eye.
"I want to be able to get out into the community and touch people. I want to be a role model to little girls. I want to be someone that they look up to."
In short, she wants to be like her own pageant queen role model and Miss USA 1994, Lu Parker.
"She was/is the total package. She has a college degree. She has the personality and the kind of lifestyle that's just so positive."
And Perry already has a strong foundation beneath her.
Not only is she stunning and has a career in broadcasting, she actively gives her time to the Susan G. Komen Foundation-a cause that she will further support and champion should she win the ultimate title-Miss USA.