Through the years, Sara Jo Burks has helped prepare many young ladies at Troy University to compete on the pageant stage.
Earlier this month, however, it was Burks and not one of her students in front of the bright lights. Burks, who serves as assistant director of housing and residence life at Troy University, was crowned Ms. Senior USA 2018 during the pageant that took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“I’m super excited,” Burks said. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be named Ms. Senior USA, and I want to be sure to take advantage of all of the opportunities that will be available to meet and talk with people.”
Burks was one of 28 contestants to take part in the pageant, competing in interview, evening gown, talent and philosophy of life categories. For the talent portion of the competition, Burks chose to sing the jazz classic, “Cry Me a River.”
With the title, crown and sash, Burks received $1,000 and a garment bag, which may come in handy in the near future given the travel opportunities that accompany the title.
“I’ll be doing some traveling to talk about women’s issues,” she said, noting that the White House is among her destinations. She also will appear on a future cover of Pageantry Magazine.
While she has spent countless hours helping to prepare others, Burks said she had never given much consideration to competing herself.
“This is not anything that I dreamed about doing, everything just kind of fell into place,” she said. “I have helped so many girls prepare for the modeling and interview aspects of pageants, but now to have gone through that myself, I believe it gives me new perspective and a better understanding of what it is like to actually be in that position.”
Burks said she is excited for the opportunity to share with others her platform GOAL, which stands for “Go Out and Live.”
“I look forward to sharing with others and encouraging them not to give up on their dreams,” she said. “Even when things don’t work out at first, it is important to keep striving for your dreams.”