GARY, Ind. (AP) -- Shauntay Hinton told Miss USA pageant host Deion Sanders that active citizenship is the freedom she values most.
Now that she's won the crown, she intends to exercise that freedom.
"That's not just being a speaker, but also committing your time, committing your body and getting out there and rolling up your sleeves," said Hinton, Miss District of Columbia.
Hinton, a broadcast communications major from Howard University, was crowned Miss USA on Friday night. Afterward, she said she hopes to use her position to promote volunteerism, fight homelessness and speak out for breast cancer awareness.
The 23-year-old cheerleader's knees buckled when Sanders announced that Miss Kansas, Lindsay Douglas, was the first runner-up, making Hinton the winner.
"It took all of my strength to lift myself back up," she said. "It's just surreal. I've been dreaming of this ever since I was a little girl."
Last year's winner, former Miss Texas Kandace Krueger, placed the winner's sash and crown on Hinton. The winner was handed a bouquet of roses as she walked down the catwalk, then returned to center stage and was swarmed by other contestants.
A native of Starkville, Miss., Hinton will compete in the Miss Universe competition in May in Puerto Rico. If she wins, Douglas, 23, will take over as Miss USA.
Miss Indiana, Kelly Lloyd, 25, a Ball State University journalism major, was second runner-up.
The other finalists were Lanore VanBuren, 26, of Minnesota and Alita Hawaah Dawson, 23, of Connecticut.
Twelve semifinalists were selected Thursday from among the 51 contestants after two weeks of interviews and modeling for the pageant's preliminary-round judges.
On the Net: http://www.missusa.com
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