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Miss America Returns to Richmond to Meet with Patients, Doctors, Professors

Two women with a young girl
Andi Otey and her mother Jessica talk with Miss America Camille Schrier at Children's Hospital of Richmond. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story.

Last December, Camille Schrier, a pharmacy student at Virginia Commonwealth University, was crowned Miss America after performing a science experiment during the talent portion of the competition.

Since then, Schrier has been touring the country to bring awareness to her platform of drug safety and abuse prevention. This week, she stopped in Richmond to meet with healthcare professionals and even her own professors.

“We also have a major opioid crisis happening in this country that is related to prescription medication,” Schrier said. “The demand to have me come and address this issue has been great and it’s taught me more about my own profession as well.”

This visit to Richmond marks Schrier’s first time seeing her VCU professors since she took a break from classes last May to compete in pageants.

“It’s particularly impactful because these are the people that are behind the scenes supporting me in a way that I could not be any more grateful for,” she said. On Tuesday, Schrier met with faculty at the VCU library, as well as members of the city police department and the medical community, to discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic.

Schrier visited the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Wednesday to discuss the safe use of medication. While on her visit, she had the chance to meet Andi Otey of Farmville.

Andi is four years old and recently completed 22 weeks of chemotherapy after a cancerous Wilms tumor was removed last May. Her mother, Jessica Otey, says Andi has been watching Schrier’s science performances since she was crowned Miss Virginia in June.

Hospital staff knew about Andi’s love for pageants and her admiration for Schrier’s science experiment, so they called the Otey family to tell them about the visit.

"She picked out one of her 15 tiaras and we raced in," Jessica said. “I don’t think she even slept. I think it was better than Christmas for her to come here and actually get her picture taken with Miss America.”

Wearing a crown of her own, Andi told Schrier she would like to be a doctor when she grows up. Jessica says Andi wants to be a doctor because of the surgeons that took care of her at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

“It’s exciting to see girls like Andi want to pursue careers in medicine and in STEM,” Schrier said. She says she’s inspired that Andi does not fear her doctors, but instead looks up to them. 

“They’ve impacted her life in such a positive way,” Schrier says. “Not just in the way that they’ve been able to go through her treatment process and bring her back to health, but to be able to shape her as a young woman. I only hope that as a doctor of pharmacy, that as I go through my career, than I can help be that person,” for someone else.

Schrier says it warms her heart to hear that Andi has kept up with her trajectory through the pageants and she says her goal is “to make an impact” on the people she meets.

“As a girl who’s gone through so much in her young life, to be able to provide a space where she’s excited about something, being able to look forward to something and be really encouraged by another woman in a career path… And then for her to have her little crown on, is really amazing,” she says.

“I’m happy to wear a crown with her and I’m so glad that she has one of her own.”

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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