Brooklyn Garrett: Sharing the Spotlight

On January 28th, 2017, the Mortar Board crowned Brooklyn Garrett as Miss Clemson University 2017. Along with her sash and crown, she took home awards for Miss Congeniality, Overall Interview, Philanthropy, and People’s Choice. Speaking with Brooklyn, it’s easy to understand why she deserved the crown. Her passion and commitment for Clemson comes across with every word. Her Campus Clemson was honored to interview her this week to discuss her recent win and what inspires her.


Hometown: Westminster, SC

Major/Minor: Philosophy and Women’s Leadership / Law, Liberty, & Justice

Year: Junior

Organization Involvement: CAAH Ambassador, FCA, Research Assistant on Ethics Bowl Debate Team, Researcher for the Psychology Creative Inquiry team, Peer Success Leader for the Academic Success Center, Student Office Assistant for Clemson University CAAH Business Office, Clemson IMPACT,  Clemson Women’s Choir

Favorite Clemson Tradition: Sold Orange Fridays & the most exciting 25 seconds in football AKA that hill entrance!!!

How has your involvement in various organizations on campus affected your Clemson experience?

Being an ambassador for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities (CAAH) has allowed me to share my Clemson story. I was accepted into Clemson University when I was a high school senior, and I decided to go where I received a full scholarship. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my heart and mind were elsewhere,  which was Clemson!

I couldn’t be happier to have made that decision. Choosing to attend Clemson has truly opened up so many opportunities. I’m tapping into my purpose with my involvement with CAAH. I get to speak with prospective students, students who don’t know where they want to go but who feel a strong pull toward Clemson. I get to share my passion and my story with them. I get to tell them how I am a first four-year generation college student, and talk to them about how I value my education. I see how I can reach out to them and get them to see Clemson as their home. One of my favorite parts is seeing someone that I met with on campus months later. I love having the opportunity to play a role in bringing them to this university.

Why do you believe Clemson is a special place?

Clemson is a special place because people are open to sharing their Clemson stories, and the entire Clemson family wants to embrace and learn from every single person. The diversity in backgrounds and stories makes this university unique. In my gender & sexuality class, I hear stories from Clemson students that I’ve never heard before. People are willing and able to open up about areas of their life because they know that they will get support and comfort. It’s something that has motivated me to work towards changing some of the issues fellow students face. 


Have you had any previous pageant experience?

I’ve had some previous experience but nothing like Honey Boo Boo, haha! My parents entered me in a few pageants when I was really little for fun, but I didn’t really stay with them when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I decided to compete in my middle school pageant which led to my entering in a few more pageants. Most people have a hesitation about pageants, mostly because they don’t understand why they started in the first place. With the Miss Clemson University Scholarship pageant, the Mortar Board society started to advocate for the advancement of women especially on the college campus. This pageant collected items for Clemson’s Childhood Development Center, and every contestant volunteered there before competing in the pageant. It provides so many service opportunities and scholarships, and I don’t think everyone realizes that. Most of the pageants I have ever participated in were for fundraisers or scholarship opportunities.   

What made you want to enter the Miss Clemson University pageant?

I wanted to represent Clemson and the values I share with the university. I understand my fellow tigers and that I can provide the respect and empathy the role requires. I strive to represent the university wherever I go and in everything that I do.

The CAAH Ambassadors talked about putting up someone for Miss Clemson University last year, and this year—we made it happen! CAAH is an amazing organization of volunteers that market majors, plans projects to showcase student work, and network with professors and donors. The pageant is a great chance to showcase all organizations, and it’s not secluded to Greek life. I met amazing women this past weekend that come from all different backgrounds, and each one has a Clemson story to share.


How did you prepare for the pageant?

I prepared by singing a lot! I knew though, that no matter how much I practiced it wouldn’t be perfect. With any performance, it’s never perfect. I went into the pageant with the mindset that I would do my very best— but I would not stress about the outcome. Of course, I also had to go dress shopping as well.  We went to a few different dress shops but I ended up finding the two dresses for my evening gown and talent from the same store!

Besides the talent practice and the dress shopping, there wasn’t really any extra prep I did. Being a Clemson student was first and foremost. There wasn’t any intense treadmill sessions or crazy dieting. I just remained active and focused on being the best I could be on campus. During interview, you just hope they just see you for who you are.

Before the pageant, I also volunteered at Clemson’s Childhood Development Center. Every contestant also collected items for the center. I was overwhelmed with support from family, friends, and classmates in the weeks leading up to the pageant who helped with my philanthropy endeavor for CCDC.


Day of pageant, how would you describe the energy in the Brooks Center?

Backstage, the energy was lively and high-spirited. About an hour before the pageant started, everyone was backstage just ready to start.  The opening number loosened everyone up though. It was a great way to get onstage and have fun without being judged.

I was extremely blessed with my competition placement. I competed right after Chesney Thomas who represented the Moore Scholars Program. We are really good friends, so I was grateful to be backstage with someone I already knew. Our placement selection also aligned me next to Sydney Davis. Sydney is a ClemsonLIFE student.  Having the opportunity to practice and get to know Sydney during the pageant was very special. We were able to bond during this time. Since winning the pageant I have had a few opportunities to be involved with ClemsonLIFE. One opportunity is the Night to Shine prom, which is next Friday, February 10. I can’t wait to see Sydney shine next week!

What was your favorite category to compete this past weekend?

My favorite category was talent as it’s what initially drew me to participate in pageants (the talent competition phases of the pageant). I used to be embarrassed to sing for others, but my parents would always encourage me to sing in front of others. Initially I was a little timid to sing around others.  However, when I started pageants in middle school, I began to sing in front of other people more often. My attitude shifted from being bashful to being bold, and committed to sharing my gift with others.


What is the greatest lesson you learned about yourself from this past weekend?

I’m passionate about turning me moments into we moments. It’s important to figure out the best way to accomplish this, and sometimes it happens in the spur of the moment. Changing what could be something that revolves around one person into an event that includes someone else is important to me. It’s possible and it’s easy to do—as long as we listen to that voice within saying, share your light. I will always cherish that moment and I hope other people will turn their me moments into we moments.

What went through your head when they called your name as Miss Clemson University 2017?

Just joy. Right before they called my name, I promised God that if I won I would take Sydney with me. It turned out that when they called my name that this was meant to be. I was so happy. I’m in awe over all the service opportunities that have unfolded since last Saturday. If you choose to share your light, you will be amazed at all of the goodness that follows.

What does being Miss Clemson University involve?

Miss Clemson University must uphold the values of Clemson University wherever she goes. It involves being spirited, loving my fellow tigers, and inspiring others through my Clemson story. It’s a feeling of obligation, to serve this community whenever I am needed. It’s about caring for others, uplifting others, and treating others like Clemson family.


Where is your crown and sash currently?

Ahhh. Ok, you caught me off guard with this one. So, I’m in the process of getting a box to store it in. For now, it’s sitting near my bedside. When I woke up Sunday morning, I thought, Wow, I really am Miss Clemson University!!!!



Instagram @clemsoncaah and @brooklyngarrett