Maryville native crowned Miss Tennessee USA

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennesseans have a new representative in the Miss USA competition coming up this spring, but she's also representing Maryville.

Savana Hodge competed as Miss Davidson County, but she was born and raised in Maryville.

"My family has been here for a long time," she laughed. "I wish I knew how long. My great grandparents were here and even before that, we were native to Tennessee."

She credited her experience at Maryville High School for her success.

"In high school, Maryville was always about pushing academic growth, extracurriculars, which was great. At the time, you're at school and you're like, 'I just want to go home,' but really it pushed me to be a leader and challenge my realm of thinking. That was a huge deal for me because that transpired to Belmont," she said.

Before starting at Belmont University, Hodge worked in the U.S. House of Representatives under Congressman Jimmy Duncan.

"That set the tone for everything because I realized I could do these things, I could be uncomfortable and I was able to have a high level conversations at a young age, I was just 17 doing this. I worked in D.C. and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I really think that set the pace and the tone."

Belmont University, located in the middle of Nashville, is where Hodge studied International Business, Marketing and Spanish.

While Maryville will always be her place of comfort, Hodge said Nashville is where she has established herself as an adult and therefore calls it home. She now works for an international engineering firm, in addition to her title as Miss Tennessee.

The competition is comprised of three portions - swimsuit, evening gown and interviews.

"I told (the judges), 'I'm ready to be your Miss Tennessee and I know exactly what I'm going to do. This is an opportunity unlike any other, let me show you what I can do.'"

Hodge has partnered with the Make a Wish Foundation as an ambassador. She is also a Random Acts of Kindness ambassador.

"For me, personally, I'm hoping to implement my platform, to bring to light, 'Our Time is Now.' It's our time to be bold, kind and dream big. There's no time like the present," she said.

Hodge will compete for Miss USA this upcoming Spring. A date has not been released.

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