A self described "Navy brat," Goldei Mary Baysa has lived in many countries and learned respect for many cultures.
As Miss Augusta 2001, the 20 year-old Philippine-American woman hopes to inspire children to learn to embrace other cultures represented in the city.
"It's not about political correctness. It's not about forcing culture and lifestyle on someone else. It's about teaching respect," said Miss Baysa, who was crowned Miss Augusta on Saturday at Augusta State University's Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre. "Racial attitudes tend to stay the same after childhood."
Miss Baysa's platform as Miss Augusta is based on multicultural diversity.
"I'd like to speak to elementary school students," she said, adding she'd like to see more ethnic influence in art and music curricula.
As a member of the Philippine-American Association, she works to promote her Filipino heritage and can be seen at the upcoming Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival with the Filipinian dance group; however, Miss Baysa isn't interested in just her own culture.
"I don't just want to bring Asian awareness; there's a large Hispanic population" in Augusta, she said. "The U.S. is no longer black and white. ... There are many shades."
Saturday's pageant was the first for Miss Baysa, an Augusta State University sophomore who aspires to become a promotions director for a recording company.
"I was completely overwhelmed," she said of winning the scholarship pageant. "I was frozen at first, then I realized I had to be crowned. I was shaking. It was great. It was the best feeling I'd had in a long time."
The Miss Augusta pageant is her first step on the road to the Miss America pageant.
Miss Baysa will compete for Miss Georgia next summer; if she wins, she will head to Atlantic City, N.J., in fall 2001.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.