The newly crowned Ms. Senior Alabama USA is Troy University’s own Sara Jo Burks, assistant director of housing and residence life. Burks will have the opportunity to represent the state of Alabama in the Ms. Senior USA pageant in May 2018 in Las Vegas.
Burks, who has competed in this pageant four times, was crowned Ms. Senior Alabama USA for the first time at Wallace Community College in Hanceville.
“It took courage to go back…to show up,” Burks said. “I just want people, especially young girls, to know that you can’t give up on your dreams.”
During her time as Ms. Senior Alabama USA, Burks said she hopes to speak to groups of young people and seniors.
“Don’t let your age or ability discourage you from doing what you want to do,” Burks said. “By doing things you wouldn’t usually do, you gain from the experience. You learn about yourself and meet great people that you never would have met before.
“These people become role models.”
Burks assists contestants who choose to participate in the Miss TROY or Miss Venus pageants, which she said has influenced the way she looked at competing.
“I tell myself to go out there and do my best, just like I tell the TROY contestants,” she said. “It is a very different experience from coaching the girls. Even if you don’t come home with the crown, you come home a winner.
“I hope that they (Troy contestants) can know that I know what they are going through during the process. Because I have competed recently, I feel that I can help to better prepare them for the competition.”
Burks said every woman who wants to enter the pageant scene should try it.
“Don’t lose out on the opportunity,” she said. “A lot of girls are worried about the talent portion. I will help you develop a talent.”
Burks is looking forward to representing the state in the Veteran’s Day parade in Birmingham, as her husband is a Vietnam veteran.
“I am honored to be able to represent Troy University, Troy and the state,” Burks said. “I am looking forward to promoting Troy University to give back.”
Burks has also held the titles of Ms. Senior Pike County 2014, Ms. Senior Shelby County 2015, Ms. Senior Heart of Dixie 2016 and Ms. Senior Troy 2017.