Miss UA competition Saturday

Jennie Kushner

Fourteen Alabama football players will exchange their jerseys for suits Saturday as they usher 14 contestants competing in the 36th annual Miss University of Alabama competition.

The competition will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Bama Theatre located on Greensboro Avenue. Carol Wright, the pageant’s director, said she hopes there is an audience of roughly 1,000.

Alumnus Anthony Williams, star of Lifetime Television’s “Project Runway,” is slated to attend and participate in an un-staged interview, Wright said. Williams requested to design the winner’s gown for the next stage of the pageant process, the Miss Alabama competition.

The winner of Saturday’s competition will travel to Samford University in Birmingham in June to compete in the Miss Alabama competition and potentially Miss America, Wright said. The winner will also receive a full-tuition and book scholarship to the University, along with other gifts.

The contestants will vie in categories of private interview, swimsuit/physical fitness, talent, eveningwear and an on-stage question.

Contestants said the contest has been a growing experience.

“I have become more aware of the things going on around the world such as politics, the economy and events,” said Brittany Powers, a freshman majoring in general business. “I have developed interview and public speaking skills that will help me in my future career. Miss UA is more than a pageant. It’s a competition that will change your life.”

Mallory Meissner, a junior double majoring in dance and finance, said the competition allows participants a platform to better the community and state.

“Win or lose, each girl is still out in the community working towards a goal,” she said. “My platform is abstinence plus, so I work in high school and middle schools teaching sex education and helping students how to make safe and informed decisions.”

Meissner said winning the competition would be an honor.

“I’m from Tuscaloosa, and I have fallen in love with the University and all the ideals it stands for,” she said. “As Miss UA, you get the opportunity to represent the community and get to compete to represent the entire state of Alabama.”

Wright said Miss UA will make appearances at various places, including a celebrity tour of the VA hospital, alumni events, and will be a part of the Crimson Caravan, which features head football coach Nick Saban, in April.

“The winner gets to meet so many interesting people and have interactions with successful alumni and celebrities,” Wright said. “A former Miss UA has sung the national anthem at the Talladega 500 race. One was the grand marshal at the Mardi Gras parade in Mobile.”

Wright said the application process for Miss UA begins in the fall. Contestants must be a full-time student between the ages of 18-24 and have at least a 2.5 GPA.

Tickets are available to purchase from the contestants or can be purchased at the door. Ticket prices for non-students and adults are $12, $8 for students and $5 for children under the age of 12.

“Students and residents of Tuscaloosa should attend the pageant so that not only much needed support is shown to their fellow classmates, but also because there has been a lot of attention on UA since we became national champions,” said Brooke Johnson, a sophomore majoring in nursing. “America needs to know that we have more than a football team to offer.”

“Pride, dedication and unity are the attributes that makes us who we are as a student body. The awesome football program is just the cherry on top,” she said.