Miss New York Teen USA Declines Miss Teen USA Title After 2023 Winner Suddenly Resigns

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

"It was an extremely hard decision to make," the college student tells PEOPLE just days after UmaSofia Srivastava stepped down

<p>Miss New York Teen USA/Instagram</p> Miss New York Teen USA Stephanie Skinner

Miss New York Teen USA/Instagram

Miss New York Teen USA Stephanie Skinner

In the wake of Miss Teen USA 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava's surprise resignation last week, Miss New York Teen USA Stephanie Skinner says she was offered the crown — but the first runner-up in last year's pageant tells PEOPLE that she has declined the title and is focusing on other dreams this year.

"It was an extremely hard decision to make," says Skinner, 19.

"I worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this goal to become Miss Teen USA," she says, "and although this title was a dream of mine, I believe one thing I will never give up is my character."

Skinner, a rising junior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says she felt that turning the opportunity down was "the right decision."

Related: UmaSofia Srivastava Says Resigning Miss Teen USA Title 'Was Not My First Choice' (Exclusive)

A representative with the Miss USA organization did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Skinner's news comes days after Srivastava's resignation and that of Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt.

On Wednesday, May 8, Srivastava announced her decision on Instagram and said in a statement that her “personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

Related: Miss Teen USA 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava Resigns Just 2 Days After Miss USA Stepped Down

“After months of grappling with this decision, I have made the choice to resign from the title of Miss Teen USA 2023,” she wrote. “I am grateful for all the support from my family, my state directors, my sister queens, and the fans who have cheered me on since I won my state title. I will always look back on my time as Miss NJ Teen USA fondly, and the experience of representing my state as a first generation, Mexican-Indian American at the national level was fulfilling in itself.”

Two days before Srivastava's announcement, Voigt said that she was resigning from her own title.

"I realize this may come as a large shock to many," Voigt, 24, wrote in an Instagram post announcing the decision, which was shared on Monday, May 6. "Never compromise your physical and mental well-being."

"In life, I strongly value the importance of making decisions that feel best for you and your mental health," she wrote. "My journey as Miss USA has been incredibly meaningful, representing Utah with pride, and later the USA at Miss Universe. Sadly, I have made the very tough decision to resign from the title of Miss USA 2023."

Miss USA publicly wished both winners well in the wake of their decisions.

<p>Chance Yeh/Getty</p> UmaSofia Srivastava attends Supermodels Unlimited Magazine Presents: Billboards Over Broadway - NYFW Celebrity Event on February 10, 2024 in New York City.

Chance Yeh/Getty

UmaSofia Srivastava attends Supermodels Unlimited Magazine Presents: Billboards Over Broadway - NYFW Celebrity Event on February 10, 2024 in New York City.

Hours after Srivastava's news broke, she appeared at a philanthropic function where she elaborated on her decision while speaking with PEOPLE.

"It definitely was not my first choice [to resign]," she said then. "Unfortunately, I can't say much more at this time. But I would like to say that it's a decision that took a lot of careful thinking — and ultimately, I'm excited to see what's next."

"I'm a junior in high school and I'm gonna be applying to colleges," Srivastava said. "So I'm excited to explore my future and find what makes me [me] again."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer​​, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

For Skinner, who will crown a new Miss New York Teen winner at the end of June, her professional goals also come first, she tells PEOPLE.

This summer, the Hands of Hope founder will participate in an eight-week-long global research program as a data marketing analyst in Bangkok, Thailand — a prior commitment that she intends to honor.

"I think it's really important to note that we give our entire life to work towards goal like this, but in light of recent events integrity and character has to come first," she says.

Skinner adds, "I just think that this was the best decision for me."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.