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    Organization: Georgia Association of Educators     Date: 9/1/2014

 

  WR beauty prepares for pageant  
 

(Saturday,11/17/2007 ©  Macon Telegraph)

By Jenny Gordon - jgordon@macon.com

WARNER ROBINS --The 23-year-old beauty has a long list of pageant winnings on her resumŽ, but don't let that intimidate you.

The popular beauty queen has a big heart for people - children, especially. Those who know her speak of her generosity, her humility and her love for giving to others.

Amanda Kozak has made her hometown proud once again, winning the title of Miss Georgia USA last weekend in Cartersville.

She will compete next spring for the national title of Miss USA. Should she win that title, next stop would competing for the Miss Universe crown.

Kozak has made an enviable mark in local and state pageants. While a student at Warner Robins High School, she won the school pageant, then went on to become the 2004 Miss Presidential Pathways, 2005 Miss Warner Robins and 2006 Miss Valdosta.

Amanda is the daughter of Kenneth Kozak, currently stationed at Robins Air Force Base, and Jolene Kozak, an Air Force veteran currently working at Boeing. She has a younger sister, Jessica.

Last year marked a special year for Kozak, when she walked down the runway as Miss Georgia at the pageant in Columbus. The state title let her compete for the Miss America crown in January, where she placed second runner-up.

As she prepares herself for the Miss USA pageant, she said she's looking to her hometown crowd once again for backing.

"They made it happen with me for Miss America because of all their support," Kozak volunteered. "I'm definitely going to need their support and prayers for this system as well. I'm so honored to represent Georgia. I'm excited."

Close friend Barbara Asbell has kept in touch with Kozak since her reign as Miss Warner Robins. Asbell is a former board member of the Miss Warner Robins Scholarship Pageant and spent many years chaperoning the young ladies to appointments.

"She's become like a granddaughter to me," shared Asbell. "She is such a wonderful role model for other young people. In this day and time we really need good role models."

On the possibility of Kozak winning the Miss USA crown, Asbell said,

"I think her chances are very great. Warner Robins just thinks so highly of her and we are so proud that she has represented this city, this state so well."

At Warner Robins High School, where Kozak graduated in 2002, principal Steve Monday had nothing but high praise for the former student.

He pointed out that after winning Miss Georgia last year, she took time to return to her alma mater to speak to the faculty and to new teachers.

"She's wonderful. She's a fine representative and the best of what we have here at Warner Robins High School," Monday said.

Biology teacher Tonya Hawthorne helps coordinate the annual Miss Warner Robins High School pageant. She recalled encouraging Kozak to try out for the pageant, to which the teenager replied that she wasn't a "pageant girl." Hawthorne said she still teases her about the comment.

Kozak won the school pageant her senior year.

"She just has a lot of different things going for her. She's got a good head on her shoulders and she exceeds on a lot of different levels," Hawthorne said.

"She's got a real dry sense of humor and she'll tell you like it is," she said with a laugh. "She's really just the same Amanda that she's always been. She's got a good heart and she cares a lot about kids."

Due to her year-long responsibilities as Miss Georgia, Amanda postponed her teaching career that was scheduled to begin at Russell Elementary School in Warner Robins. She graduated from Valdosta State University in 2006 with an early childhood education degree. Although her teaching ambitions are on hold for the moment, she is promoting her love of education with the Georgia Association of Educators.

Russell's principal, Keith Lauritsen, said a job still awaits Kozak as she pursues another national crown. He said that being young and just out of college, there's plenty for her to experience, and that teaching will always be there for her.

"She is absolutely determined she is going to teach sooner or later," Lauritsen said of his many conversations with Kozak.

"We're excited any time she does something," he said.

Lauritsen said he gets asked a lot from people inside and outside the school when Kozak will be teaching at Russell. Although some kids know her from her many visits to the school, a majority of students don't yet know who she is, he said. But, he added, "The excitement is still there."

When the time does come when the beauty queen begins her teaching career, he revealed a final thought on what she can expect from her new students.

"They would absolutely do their very best for her. I can guarantee it," the principal said.

To learn more about Kozak or the Miss USA and Miss Universe programs, you may visit www.missgeorgiausa.com or www.missusa.com.

To contact writer Jenny Gordon, call 923-3109, extension 240.

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