Dedicated Christian Audrey Kittila wins Miss University of Georgia crown despite having never competed before


ATHENS, Ga. – Audrey Kittila relishes taking on new challenges.

That’s what landed her on stage at the Miss University of Georgia competition.

“I didn’t think I’d actually win, I had never competed before,” the 19-year-old from Milton, Ga., said. 

Kittila did win, dazzling judges with her beauty and poise and blowing them away with her rendition of the Charlie Daniels song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, a seemingly odd choice for a young lady who has been playing classical violin since second grade.

Laying the classical training aside, Kittila went up-tempo for the competition, singing and playing the song with the same exuberance Daniels always did.

“She may have been surprised by winning, but no one who knows her was at all surprised,” said her former pastor, W. Thomas Hammond Jr., who is now executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “Audrey is a beautiful, talented and articulate young lady whose Godly character causes her to stand out in any crowd.”

Kittila, who is planning a career in speech therapy, is no stranger to the stage. She grew up singing and playing at First Baptist Church in Alpharetta and now is part of the worship team at the University of Georgia’s Baptist Campus Ministry and at Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens.

For the past couple of years, Kittila has been freelancing as a runway model, which was great preparation for walking gracefully across the stage in a sparkly sequin floor-length evening dress complete with train during the competition. Her modeling has typically been in similar evening wear suitable for proms, weddings, and other formal occasions.

“That experience was really helpful,” she said.

Friends helped prepare her for the all-important on-stage question portion of the competition. They peppered her with practice questions in the days leading up to the event.

“I come from a Christian home,” Kittila said. “My parents are very strong Christians. When I was 7 years old, I made a personal decision to follow Christ and was baptized shortly after. Through the ministries at First Baptist Alpharetta, I was able to grow in my faith. The best decision I ever made was to follow Christ.”

Her parents, Christopher and Brenda Kittila, had encouraged her to be bold in her service to Christ, to go outside her comfort zone.

That, she said, is why she entered the Miss UGA competition.

“It might be outside my comfort zone, and it might make me really, really nervous, but it’s worth it try new things,” she said. “Sometimes, we’re met with situations in life that truly are challenging. For example, Miss UGA competition or a job that you think is a stretch. Instead of shrinking away, give it a shot. You never know what’s going to happen.”

University of Georgia Campus Minister Tommy Fountain Jr. described Kittila as “one of the nicest people you’d ever meeting, well-spoken, and, from a musical standpoint, she’s unbelievably talented.”

Fountain said Kittila uses that talent to serve the Lord.

“Our desire is for all of our students to not only use the BCM as a practicum for their faith, reaching other students with the gospel, but just as importantly, and maybe more importantly, to get plugged into and serving in a local church,” Fountain said. “Audrey is a prime example of someone who understands that. Regardless of winning the Miss UGA title, she’s already really a success story for the BCM.”