Elleana Garcia, Miss Augusta 2024, at the Mayor's Masters Reception on April 6, 2024. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Elleana Garcia, Miss Augusta 2024, at the Mayor's Masters Reception on April 6, 2024. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Miss Augusta 2024 highlights alcohol awareness

As she headed to Kennesaw State University in the fall of 2023, Elleana Garcia faced a new set of challenges including one that she doesn’t hear a lot of people talking about – alcohol awareness.

“It was a really big stressor for me going to college and being with this new environment where alcohol is so normalized,” said Garcia, who is Miss Augusta 2024

 April is alcohol awareness month, and Garcia’s community service initiative, also known as her platform, is Alcohol Awareness — Prevail, Prevent and Protect.

The 2023 honors graduate of Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School got the idea to adopt that as her platform from her mother.

Elleana Garcia (far right) participated in the Mayor’s Masters Reception on April 6, 2024. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“When I was trying to figure out my platform, I really had a hard time nailing down something. I’m passionate about a lot of things. I was talking to my mom, who is now almost two years sober – and she said, ‘What about alcohol awareness? That’s not something college students talk about much,’” she said.

Garcia knew that was the right choice.

Garcia wants to cover all her bases when it comes to alcohol awareness. She wants to work with middle and high school students with a goal of preventing alcohol abuse as well as promoting organizations that help people struggling with addictions.

She recently attended a young adult recovery training program at Kennesaw to learn more about available resources, and she’s reaching out to local organizations to maintain her ties to the community she grew up in.

Over the summer, she hopes to work with programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta to promote her platform as well as Hope House, which offers residential and outpatient programs to women with substance use issues.

Garcia first contemplated competing in the Miss Georgia pageant about two years ago.

At the time, Garcia was as an intern at Destination Augusta and attended a Rotary Club meeting. There, she met Quinn Shelt, Miss Augusta 2022, who spoke about her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association

“I told her that I would love to compete as Miss Augusta’s Teen,” she said.

 But her mother was in recovery at the time, so Garcia wasn’t able to compete.

Last year, Shelt held the Miss Memories Matter Pageant to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and Garcia received the crown.

“That gave me the confidence to really push myself,” she said.

Winning the pageant came as a shock, she said. It was a last-minute decision. She ended up borrowing a dress to wear.

Elleana Garcia plans to dance en pointe for the Miss Georgia title. Courtesy Elleana Garcia

The morning after the competition she headed to Washington, D.C. as part of the Bank of America student leader program. She worked at the Golden Harvest Food Bank through that initiative.

Shelt continues to mentor and support Garcia in her quest for Miss Georgia in June in Columbus.

“I’ve been working with her a lot. She is such a great resource,” she said.

Garcia plans to dance ballet en pointe at the Miss Georgia pageant.

She danced with the Augusta Ballet (formerly the Columbia County Ballet) for about eight years.

“I want to be the most authentic version of myself and highlight my strengths” as the reason behind picking that as her talent for Miss Georgia.

Although she’s in school during the week, Garcia tries to come home on the weekend to make appearances as Miss Augusta. She rode in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and was part of the Mayor’s Masters Reception April 6. She took part in several events related to the Masters.

She also has an event planned for May 9 related to her platform at Sugar Magnolias.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for more than 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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