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Elgin beauty is Miss Teen United States

Posted: August 14, 2014 5:42 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The final, heart stopping moments when the winner is announced.

Erika Cline is a 19-year-old Dean’s List Student at the University of South Carolina and a 2013 graduate of Lugoff-Elgin High School won the 2014 Miss Teen United States title in a pageant held in Atlanta last month.

In high school, Erika was an outstanding student and member of the girl’s varsity tennis team. She was awarded the "Most Improved Player" for both her junior and senior tennis seasons and named team captain for her senior year due to her work ethic. Erika was also a member of the Beta Club, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Spanish Club, Student Council, and graduated with Distinguished Honors. During her senior year of high school Erika also completed college level classes and was named to the Dean’s List at Central Carolina Community College.

Erika is an animal lover and enjoys pampering her dog Bingo, a 15-year-old Golden Retriever, and her cat Boo-Boo, a 7-year-old, pure white Manx cat, when home for college breaks. Erika also enjoys singing, drawing, reading, playing tennis, snowboarding and exercising as her busy schedule allows.

At 13, Erika had the opportunity to live and study in South Africa where she attended Laerskool Van Riebeeckstrand, a public primary school in the small coastal village of Melkbos near Cape Town. Moving halfway around the world was frightening at such a young age, and Erika initially struggled to adapt to her new environment and curriculum, which included studies in the Afrikaans language. As a pre-teen Erika struggled with self-esteem issues and, in spite her shyness, she adapted to her new school quickly and soon became known to her new classmates as "Erika America."

Erika credits the disciplined, structured learning environment at Laerskool Van Riebeeck with her continued academic success when she returned to the United States. During her time in South Africa, Erika was inspired by the natural beauty of the country, but also troubled by the impoverished living conditions in the make-shift homes of the "informal settlements" where a few of her classmates lived. Experiencing real poverty inspired her to volunteer time, supplies and food to a local shelter where less fortunate children of the area could spend time after school in safety.

During her time overseas, Erika also experienced modeling for the first time, and was represented by Donné Le Grange of the Muse Management Modeling Agency. A highlight of her modeling experience was being featured in a promotional video filmed in the stylish beach town of Camps Bay.

Although it has been years now since she has returned to the United States, Erika has maintained strong connections with her friends in Cape Town and will always be grateful to South Africa for this remarkable experience which was certainly a turning point in her life. Equally significant during her time away from home, was that Erika matured dramatically and acquired a renewed appreciation for the United States.

Erika’s first experience in pageants was in her senior year of high school when she was encouraged by her school’s pageant coordinator and athletic director to compete and she was crowned both "Miss Senior" and "Miss Congeniality" despite her late entry. Erika continued competing in pageants and was later crowned "Teen Miss Kershaw County" and "Teen Miss Cayce" in local competitions, and finished as second runner-up in both the Teen Division and Talent competition at the Little Miss South Carolina Pageant in 2013.

Erika also aspires to lead of life of community involvement and charitable giving. Erika has donated her time to worthy causes such as Special Olympics, Relay for Life, the March of Dimes, local animal shelters, and local soup kitchens. Erika was a Red-Carpet Hostess at the 2013 "Fur Ball" fundraiser and helped raise over $100,000 for Pawmetto Life Line, a no-kill shelter for homeless and abused pets. Erika and her mother also collect and donate clothing and toys for poor children in Cali, Colombia, through her mother’s childhood family church located there. The most recent delivery was this past May.

A cause closer to home for Erika is care and rehabilitation for our wounded veterans after returning home from service. Erika’s brother, a former Marine, was seriously wounded in a live-fire incident during final preparations for deployment to Afghanistan. This makes veteran’s care and rights very personal to her. It is the nature of our soldiers to consider others ahead of themselves without complaint and, as such, Erika feels that our veterans do not always receive the recognition and care that they have earned. Erika plans to use her title of Miss Teen United States to honor veterans and support events that highlight this worthy issue. (Biography provided by Cristina Cline, Erika’s mother.



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