Russell County High alum wins Miss Georgia USA title

Georgia

(WRBL) – Cora Lynn Griffen says she was suspiciously calm Saturday night, February 20, 2021, as she stood on a stage at The Avalon in McDonough, Ga., next to, as she describes it, her gorgeous first runner up before the first runner up was announced.

“Though I had worked for many years for this moment it was still very much an emotional encounter, because only one girl every year can take home the crown,” said Cora Griffen, Miss Georgia USA 2021. “I immediately lost it when I realized I had won the Georgia state title and would represent my home state at Miss USA after nine to eleven years of competing in pageants, each loss was worth it.”

Griffen, a 2014 graduate of Russell County High School, is an Auburn University alum with a pre-law and pre-med degree. Though educated in Alabama, Griffen, age 24, is proud of the fact that she had the privilege of spending time on both sides of the Chattahoochee River.

“My mother, Katie Griffen, owner of Katie’s Beauty Salon in Columbus, always taught me to build up other young women. I participated in the Girls Inc. after school program and also cheered at the AJ McClung YMCA in Columbus, Georgia. I am so grateful to Columbus, Phenix City, and Seale, AL having lived in both states. Columbus is the home of rich history and great individuals with a great amount of passion and drive and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in Georgia. Though I currently reside in Atlanta, I will represent Columbus, Georgia in my heart.”

Griffen tells News Three she has a heart for empowering young women. 

“I created an initiative in 2020 – Beautifully Purposed that equips young women to thrive through life’s challenges while maintaining a positive view of themselves and to own their individuality. I launched it with the Girl Scouts of Atlanta in November and we had a virtual seminar regarding self-esteem and how to maintain it throughout difficulties. Young girls are my heart, because I remember how difficult it was for me after losing my father (Michael Wright) suddenly. It really took a toll on me growing up and it has been cathartic to pour into these young women as I found my voice.”

While in the Bi-City area, Griffen also worked closely with Children’s Miracle Network and Anti-Bullying campaigns. She made appearances at Mildred L. Terry Library, Anne Elizabeth Shepherd home, and 4th Street Daycare in Columbus over the years. 

Griffen’s path to winning the Miss Georgia USA title began as a young teen.

“I remember my first ‘pageant’ at age 13 at Peachtree Mall where I won by default. But, I began competing seriously at 15 in the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen division. I never won until 4 years later at the age of 19. I then, went off to college and cheered at Auburn University and focused on my studies. Once I graduated from Auburn, I moved back to Georgia and settled into Atlanta. I competed for the first in Miss Georgia USA 2019 and placed 4th runner-up to Alyssa Beasley. I was determined to return the next year undeniably prepared. I spent the next year developing my self-awareness, elite communication skills, and a plan for what my year would look like as a state titleholder should I win. Many obstacles ambushed me, however I remained focused on the goal ahead. I returned this year as Miss GA South, a preliminary I won, and took home the title of Miss Georgia USA, and I would not change my journey of life for anything. Everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan for us all.”

Griffen will go on to compete in the Miss USA Pageant, the competition’s 70th. The date is yet to be announced.

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