Troy University’s Baylee Smith crowned Miss Alabama USA
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Troy University sophomore Baylee Smith was crowned 2017 Miss Alabama USA during the annual Miss Alabama USA competition Saturday night in Montgomery.
Smith, who represented Pike County, will represent Alabama in the Miss USA competition next summer. The Miss USA competition will be aired on the Fox network and could possibly be held in Las Vegas.
Smith was on cloud nine Monday and her excitement could only be tempered by an already busy calendar.
“For me, this is a dream come true,” Smith said. “Even as a little girl I dreamed of something like this. To be Miss Alabama USA, how cool is that?”
Smith’s platform for the 2017 Miss Alabama USA competition was anti-bulling.
“To have the opportunity to travel around the state talking with young people about bulling is very important to me,” she said. “This is something important that I can do — something that I can do to, hopefully, make a difference. It’s important to me that I give back to my community – to my state.”
Smith is no stranger to pageants. She competed in high school pageants in her hometown of Tuscaloosa. She competed in the teen division of Miss Alabama USA for two years.
“My sister talked me into being in the Miss Alabama USA competition three weeks ago so I had to really rush to get ready.”
The Miss Alabama USA pageant has several phases of competition – interview, evening gown, swimsuit and on-stage questions.
“I can talk to anybody,” Smith said. “I never meet a stranger. I think the interview was the strongest part of the competition for me.”
During the countdown process to the title, Smith said she was a little nervous and a little hopeful. But she was totally surprised when her name was called as 2017 Miss Alabama USA.
“It’s still hard to believe,” she said. “But I’m so honored and looking forward to the opportunities that come with the title.”
First, Smith will be involved with an area Relay for Life pageant. Then, it’s off to South Carolina for a state pageant and then to Tampa and that’s just the beginning of a whirlwind year for 2017 Miss Alabama USA.
Smith is majoring in elementary education at Troy University. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and the student alumni association. She works with the after-school program at Troy Elementary School.
When asked why a girl for Tuscaloosa chose Troy University, Smith had a quick answer.
“I was tired of the big city and my first college tour was to Troy University,” she said. “I fell in love with Troy. My mother wanted me to do a tour at Alabama but I had made up my mind. Troy University was my first and last college tour. I knew where I wanted to go. Troy is a great university and the perfect place when it comes to Southern hospitality.”
Madison Neal, also a Troy University student, was named to the Top 10 in the 2017 Miss Alabama USA competition. Neal is from Cleveland.
Neal is a junior at Troy University majoring in broadcast journalism. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority, Trojan Ambassadors and the Student Alumni Association. She works with the local Boys and Girls Club and the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center.
She, like Smith, is no stranger to the pageant stage.
“I’ve participated in pageants most of my life,” Neal said. “I grew up watching the Miss USA competition and wanting to compete one day.”
Neal competed in the 2016 Miss Alabama USA and was in the Top 15.
“This year, I was in the Top 10 so, maybe, I’ll keep moving on up,” she said, laughing.