Sanders now reigns in Atlanta

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2004

[11/04/04]Miss Vicksburg 2004 Melanie Sanders has a new title, Miss Atlanta 2005.

The Vicksburg native who has won three of this city’s pageants and placed in the top five three times in the Miss Mississippi pageant will now vie to become Miss Georgia in June.

“I’m just happy,” she said. “I’m excited, I can’t lie.”

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Sanders is eligible for the Georgia pageant because she’s lived in Atlanta since enrolling in 1999 at Spelman College, where she graduated in 2003.

Now, she’s planning to get a master’s degree in mass communications from Georgia State, also in Atlanta. She was crowned at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.

Competing in pageants and winning them is almost old hat to the 23-year-old Warren Central High School graduate.

She was first runner-up in Miss Mississippi Teen USA in 1997; she was named Most Beautiful at the high school and was Miss Vicksburg in 1999, 2002 and 2004.

Scholarship money has been a big draw to enter the pageants, Sanders said.

“It basically pays for your education,” she said.

The Miss Georgia pageant gave away nearly $65,000 in scholarships in 2004.

But Sanders can’t deny she’s competitive.

“Doing this keeps me happy,” she said. “I took a semester off from college and worked in a corporate office.

“That wasn’t me. I didn’t like being in an office, and I believe you should do things that make you happy.”

The daughter of Marshall and Deborah Sanders of Vicksburg has also appeared on the Fox hit series “American Idol” and on ABC’s “All-American Girl,” another reality competition that is based on talent, physical fitness, personality and charisma.

“It’s all about exposure,” she said. “You’ve got to keep yourself out there.”

Another reason for giving Miss Georgia the old college try is because under Miss America pageant rules, this is Sanders’ last year of eligibility. The age limit is 24, and she’ll turn 24 on Nov. 22.

But the age limit for Miss USA is 27.

“And I will be doing that,” Sanders said.