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Miami alumna earns Miss Ohio crown

For nearly two years while Caroline Grace Williams was a student at Miami University, a friend tried to convince her to participate in the Miss Oxford Competition.

She finally relented and during her senior year in 2017, Williams entered the competition.

Despite the fact that it was her first pageant-like competition, she won and was crowned Miss Oxford.

"I did it and just fell in love with the program," Williams said. "All of the girls that I met were so encouraging. And I didn't think that anything would come of it, now here we are."

After earning the title of Miss Oxford and going on to the Miss Ohio Competition for the first time in 2017, even though she didn't win, Williams said she knew she wanted to be involved in the community she found in the Miss America Scholarship Program.

After winning the Miss Oxford competition, she took time off to move to New York and Iowa to pursue her passion for acting and singing.

In December 2017, Williams decided to move back to Ohio, to Cincinnati and work for Miami's admissions department.

"Even though I love performing, I wasn't crazy about it as that lifestyle," Williams said.

And after taking a year off from competition, Williams, along with 21 other young women, went to Mansfield, Ohio in June for the 2019 Miss Ohio Competition.

Before the event itself, each contestant had to participate in a 10-day preliminary round, which consisted of appearances, rehearsals, parades and interviews.

"You have a ten-minute private interview with the judges and they can ask you anything," Williams said. "It was the hardest interview I've ever gone through."

Williams said that her interview with the six judges was mostly related to politics. Before the competition to prepare she watched various news stations nearly 24/7. She also said she subscribed to different newspapers and newsletters.

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"They're not trying to stump you," Williams said. "They're more just trying to see, 'are you educated? Can you hold your own?' They don't expect you to know the answer to everything."

After the first round of interviews, each contestant competes in each phase of the event, including a talent segment, before the judges announced the top 10 women.

Williams, who studied theater and music at Miami, used her performance background during the talent portion of the competition to wow the judges with her rendition of the opera song "O Mio Babbino Carro."

The competition was eventually whittled down to five contestants who re-competed in every phase and were then evaluated during a discussion onstage about what each woman's mission would be if crowned Miss Ohio.

On June 15, 2019, Williams was crowned Miss Ohio.

Williams earned the title of Miss Ohio based on her comprehensive initiative to promote personal safety.

After she was in a car wreck last November, Williams was inspired to advocate for "Caroline's Crisis Call: Know the FACTS of Call 911."

FACTS stands for 'fake calls are illegal,' 'assign individuals to help,' 'cool calm and collected,' be 'thorough on the phone' and 'stay on the line,' she explained.

"I see the need for personal safety education on college campuses and with young kids," Williams said.

She shows people how to activate emergency calls on phones in a way that sends the caller's location to their emergency contacts as well as to 911.

And, it's her personal goal to work with Ohio Representatives in order to make 911 available through a texting system like the one already available in Butler County.

"It needs to be statewide," Williams said. "There are some emergencies where you cannot call, it's unsafe to call. So we need to be able to text."

In addition to the title, she also won a $10,000 scholarship, a newcomer award, a classical music award, the talent preliminary award and a sportsmanship award.

Williams, who is attending graduate school at Miami, is considering pursuing another degree with her scholarship money, but hasn't decided yet.

Since the competition, Williams has been traveling all over Ohio to promote "Caroline's Crisis Call" at school events. She also sings the national anthem at sporting events to help spread the initiative.

Aside from her work throughout the state, Williams plans to move on to the Miss America Competition in December.

The competition will air on NBC, and Williams said she hopes she can coordinate an event with Miami for them to air the show in Wilks Theater.