Miss Georgia Leighton Jordan only 19, but has wealth of experience

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 24, 2012 

Asked how it felt to wake up as the new Miss Georgia, Leighton Jordan laughed and said she didn’t know.

“I stayed up all night,” she said,

Jordan, 19, who competed as Miss Capital City, won the crown Saturday evening at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus.

“I feel blessed,” she said Sunday morning. “I know some people may feel that at my age I am not ready to handle this job but they should not underestimate me. I am prepared and ready to get to work.”

Jordan, a resident of Suwanee, Ga., has had plenty of life experiences for someone her age.

She began ballet lessons at age 2 and became good enough that at age 15, she was accepted into the Houston Ballet and moved to live in Texas away from her family.

“I got to live the adult life a little early,” she said.

Through the years, she was accepted into the Royal Ballet in London and other prestigious ballet schools on scholarship. She danced on national television in China.

Though ballet was her talent in the Miss Georgia competition, her dreams of being a professional ballerina are no more. Major surgeries on her ankles are the reason why.

“My dream was taken away from me. It was devastating to have injury after injury,” she said. “At one point, I just cried and grieved for a week.”

Even before that, ballet has taken a toll. “I had a eating disorder when I was around 14,” she said. “There is so much pressure on dancers. Sometimes, you feel the only thing you can control in you life is what you eat and I limited my food intake.”

She said faith and family helped her overcome the problem.

After winning Miss Georgia, losing the ballet career doesn’t hurt so much.

“This is the plan God had for me,” she said. “I see that now,”

Jordan is a big supporter of the Sibling Support Project which is a national program that strives to increase peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs.

An older brother Robin suffers from several health problems including cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He is deaf. Jordan said that through the years, she has seen him bang his head on the floor because as a young boy he could not communicate, laughed at because of a limp and called stupid.

“He would cry whenever I went to a birthday party because he never got invited to one.” she said. “I always felt guilty.”

Jordan, who communicates with Robin by sign language, said she has learned a lot from him.

“He taught me about unconditional love,” she said. “People can be mean to him and he still wants to hug them.” She said because of Robin she had dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate.

Jordan’s father Jim is an electrical engineer and her mother Clemmie teaches ballet.

Jordan was home schooled and has taken classes at Georgia Perimeter College. She was to begin school at Georgia State University but that will have to wait.

The teen who won a $15,000 scholarship, plans to be a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner.

This was the second time for her to compete in the Miss Georgia pageant. She was Miss Southern Rivers in 2011.

“The first time I didn’t realize what hard work this week is,” she said. “It is grueling. It is sort of a last man standing type of thing.”

As for the week, Jordan, who will compete in the Miss America Pageant in January in Las Vegas, felt things “went smoothly.”

“I felt good about everything I did,” she said.

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