Miranda Prescott, Correspondent
Jacksonville State University crowned its 38th Miss Jacksonville State University on Friday, January 10, 2020. Camden Swatts, crowned Miss Jacksonville State University in 2017, was crowned Miss Jacksonville State University again, on January 10.
Miss Jacksonville State University serves as one of the many preliminary competitions to Miss Alabama. Swatts will represent the university at the state level of this competition in early June. There, she will have the opportunity to compete for more scholarships and to move on to Miss America.
Miss America is a scholarship competition that focuses on women making “a difference in their communities, states and beyond,” according to the Miss America website. Throughout its history, Miss America has generated over $45 million dollars worth of scholarships for its contestants, making it “one of the nation’s largest providers of scholarship assistance to young women.” Jacksonville State University has held its preliminary competition for Miss America since 1983.
The theme for the 38th Miss JSU competition was “Women of the Crown,” which was in homage to the past titleholders from Jacksonville State University. In the history of the competition, the university has had “seven Miss Alabamas, one first runner up to Miss America, and one Miss America,” according to an Instagram post made by the university.
Swatts is a second-semester nursing student from Beauregard, Ala. She placed in the top 15 at Miss Alabama while representing the university that year. Swatts was also crowned Miss Opelika-Auburn Area in 2018 and placed fourth runner-up in Miss Alabama.
Swatts was also the winner of the talent scholarship for the competition. Swatts performed a jazz dance number to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the Temptations. The scholarship awarded was in the amount of $250 dollars for the fall semester.
Contestants were judged on a variety of categories, each counting a certain percentage towards their overall score. 15 percent was awarded for On-Stage Interview, 20 percent for Evening Wear and Social Impact, 25 percent for Private Interview and 40 percent for Talent.
Every contestant of the Miss Jacksonville State University competition serves on a personal platform, often called a social impact initiative, that allows them to give back to their communities.
While Miss America’s national philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network, contestants often choose platforms outside of this mission to give to as well. For Swatts, her social impact initiative is “Care for Cadets,” which Swatts stated would allow her to “express gratitude for the cadets of the West Point Academy and those currently serving in the military.” As a whole, the Miss America Organization has donated over 500,000 volunteer hours through their titleholders and contestants.
First runner up to Swatts was Briana Caudle, a psychology and criminal justice double major from Huntsville. Her platform was “The Stage is Not the Limit,” where she hopes to allow those with special needs to “grow their confidence.” For placing as first runner up, Caudle will receive a $1,300 tuition scholarship for the upcoming fall semester.
During the competition, it was announced that a new scholarship would be awarded to the contestants during the 2021 Miss Jacksonville State University. This scholarship was created by the 2019 title holder, Darby Angel, and her family. When reflecting on her title, Angel said that “representing the university in the role is a step above any other title.”
Miss Jacksonville State University also has a Rising Star that serves alongside the winner of the competition. These are young girls from the ages of 7 to 11 who the titleholder will mentor throughout their year. Over the last year, the Rising Star was Lillian Ada Alexander, a 4th grade student at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
For more information on the Miss America Organization, please visit their website at missamerica.org. Tickets for Miss Alabama will go on sale in March. To purchase tickets to Miss Alabama and support Swatts at the competition, please visit missalabama.com.