Go ahead and call Camille Schrier a trailblazer, since this Hun School alumna isn’t afraid of firsts. She was the first to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Biology at Virginia Tech but she will likely be better known as the competitor who conducted the first live chemistry experiment during the talent portion of the Miss Virginia competition.
Ms. Schrier, now a pharmacy graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, grew up competing, including while she was a student at The Hun School. Following graduation, she assumed that part of her life was over, though she always harbored a dream to compete in Miss America. Two roadblocks held her back: “I didn’t like the idea of a swimsuit competition and I wasn’t a dancer,” she says, referring to more traditional representations of talent. When the Miss America competition revamped its program to eliminate swimsuit competitions, Ms. Schrier’s dream was reignited. “I took it as a challenge to come up with a talent. I think many girls feel boxed in to create a talent that isn’t them. I could have done that but it would not have been authentic. I’m a scientist. This is what I do, and I wanted to show that to kids to get them excited.”
What she did was a catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. In other words, she combined hydrogen peroxide with potassium iodine, mixed in dish soap, and ended up with twelve feet of foam shooting out of beakers—all on stage. While it was indeed a crowd pleaser, Ms. Schrier is quick to clarify that this was not a magic show. “My core goal was to educate the audience.”
It was education, specifically at The Hun School, that helped her shine on stage. She remains friends with her Middle School science teacher and credits her for sparking her interest in the subject. “I remember reading The Hot Zone while at Hun and it got me interested in epidemiology, public health, and medicine,” she says.
Ms. Schrier took home the Miss Virginia crown in June. In accordance with competition rules, she has taken a one-year leave from graduate school to fulfill her duties as Miss Virginia by traveling to schools and businesses to share her passion for her social impact initiative—medication safety and abuse prevention. She will also be competing for the title of Miss America on December 19th at Mohegan Sun Casino. While she has not decided which live experiment she will perform, you can expect her to make a splash—in a glitter lab coat, of course.