Grand Ridge Native Win Miss Florida USA

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GRAND RIDGE-- A Jackson County native plans to take her swimsuit and evening gown to the Miss USA Pageant next year. Ashleigh Lollie was recently crowned Miss Florida USA. Lollie plans to use this platform to bring awareness to an issue close to home.

Growing up in grand ridge, Ashleigh Lollie always wanted to walk across the Miss Florida USA stage. The 23 year-old recently got her chance, and beat out 70 other contestants in the process.

"I was overwhelmed because I had always dreamed of this since I was like a little girl,” said Lollie. “My mom and I would sit in front of the TV and watch Miss USA together every year."

Entering the competition as Miss Emerald Coast, Lollie began doing pageants when she was about 6 years old.

With this win, the Florida State University law student plans to seize this opportunity... And promote an issue close to her heart.

"The first thing I want to do is really get involved with the Parkinson's Foundation. As a family, its been a very personal thing for us. My grandmother suffers from Parkinson's," she explained.

Lollie has advice for people who look down on beauty pageants.

"I was a very shy little girl and so doing this and getting on stage speaking to people, and doing things I'm passionate about has just continually benefited me and made me a more open person. So I would encourage every little girl to get out there and see what she's made of," explained Lollie.

With one crown now under her belt, she will soon start prepping for next year's Miss USA Pageant.

"I think the biggest thing is just getting a bigger stage to stand on. I know this whole process is like opening doors and so I don't necessarily know what's behind those doors, but I'm really excited to find out," said Lollie.

You can catch the pre-recorded Miss Florida USA Pageant on our sister station EECP, My 7, this Saturday at 3 pm.