Leah Livingston, a junior communication major from Miami, was crowned Miss Troy University 2016 at a competition that took place on Saturday, Oct. 24, in Claudia Crosby Theater.
Ten students competed in the 45th annual pageant, performing in private interview, swimsuit, talent, evening gown and on-stage question competition.
Other winners included first runner-up Carlie Spencer, a junior mathematics major from Montgomery; second runner-up Lacey Marcus, a senior elementary education major from Alabaster; third runner-up Caylee Sanders, a sophomore English language arts major from Goshen; and fourth runner-up Angelene Kendall, a junior dance major from Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Jayln Harrison, a freshman psychology major from Bainbridge, Georgia, won the “People’s Choice” award. The award was based on audience vote at the event.
Third runner-up Sanders also bagged the Miss Congeniality award, while Livingston won both the fitness award and the talent award.
Livingston participated in the competition last year after her friends advised her to and was named fourth runner-up.
She said she decided to continue pursuing the title of Miss Troy University, stressing the importance of perseverance.
“If you seek out whatever it is you want to do, I think anything is possible,” Livingston said.
Livingston added that while the swimsuit competition was challenging, the talent round was the toughest for her.
“You have to really be disciplined when you eat, and work out, and actually make the effort,” she said.
“But for me personally it (the most challenging aspect) was the talent. I chose a song this year that was very difficult for me, and I just went for it; and after lots of practice, it really paid off. I got to be where I want to be today.”
Livingston sang a rendition of the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”
Livingston’s platform for the pageant was Girls Inc., an after-school care program for girls from kindergarten to eighth grade. Volunteers help the participants with their schoolwork and encourage them “to be strong, smart and bold.”
Livingston said that the girls are engaged in activities like cooking lessons or dance lessons with the aim of providing a home away from home.
“I actually have been hosting an event here at Troy University for the past three years, and it has to do with the teen girls promoting self-worth, self-value, confidence and purity,” she said. “I realized I had a heart for girls, and I really just wanted to carry it out on a broader, nationwide experience. And from little that I do here in Troy just to be able to branch out and do it in Dothan, Birmingham or all across the country would be amazing.”
Second runner-up Spencer said that she enjoyed the process of working together with the other contestants.
“The girls are great,” Spencer said. “It’s nice to hang out with everybody and try to see what can they fix about you, and what can you fix about them — you know, little tweaking things — so it’s really fun to work together.”
This was Spencer’s third time competing in the Miss Troy University pageant.
“I’ll compete until I win or till I graduate,” she said. “So one of the two is gonna happen eventually, and so I will be in it (the pageant) again next year. “
Livingston will be competing in the Miss Alabama pageant in June. The winner of Miss Alabama will get to compete in the 2017 Miss America pageant.
Miss America is also sponsoring the one-year full-tuition scholarship that Livingston will receive as the winner this year.