A Troy University sophomore is getting ready to compete in one of the most prestigious pageants in the country.
Baylee Smith, 19, is representing Alabama in the 2017 Miss USA Competition, which airs Sunday, May 14 at 7 p.m. on FOX.
Smith won the Miss Alabama USA title last November, an achievement that took the Tuscaloosa native by surprise.
“I was extremely excited,” said Smith, who represented Pike County in the contest. “I had entered just three weeks before, so my goal was just to reach the top 10.”
Entering the contest last year didn’t even enter Smith’s mind until a family member got in her ear.
“It was my sister,” Smith said. “She was the one who encouraged me to do the pageant in the first place!”
Since then, Smith has tried to balanced her time between school, where she’s an elementary education major, her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, her appearances as Miss Alabama USA, and preparation for the upcoming Miss USA Competition.
“(I’ve been) very busy,” she said. “(Most of my time has been) working out, eating healthy and working with coaches. But I’m also still doing appearances. It’s hard. This semester, I only took two online classes because I am traveling all the time.”
While she’s enjoyed the well-wishes and adulation, Smith is most passionate about using her position to advocate against bullying.
“My platform is anti-bullying,” Smith said. “As an education major, I think I will face this often in a classroom. I think it’s important to empower kids at a young age. I hope to speak to as many schools (as possible) and spread the message of being yourself.”
Regardless of how she fares in Sunday’s contest, Smith knows her future goals.
“I want to eventually teach second grade and be as happy as possible,” she said.
Any students who would like to find out how to become the next Miss Alabama USA can contact the organization by calling 803-648-6220, texting 803-450-7872 or by writing to email@example.com.