Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

2 Alabama Juniors Vie for Miss America Crown

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

2 Alabama Juniors Vie for Miss America Crown

Article excerpt

Two University of Alabama juniors are among the contestants slated to compete in the 2014 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., on Sept. 15.

Miss Alabama, Chandler Champion, and Miss Michigan, Haley Williams, are among the 53 contestants competing for the crown and a $50,000 scholarship, part of the pageant's annual scholarship awards that total some $340,000.

"I am so incredibly excited to actually be living out my dream that I have had for a very long time," Champion said.

Champion, a 20-year-old junior from Leeds, is majoring in dance and broadcast journalism at UA. Her talent is ballet.

Williams, a 20-year-old junior from Saline, Mich., is majoring in public relations with minors in philosophy and art history. Her talent is baton twirling. Williams is a former Crimsonette and Diamond Doll as well as a UA ambassador, according to UA.

Champion's platform is "Chandler's Challenge: Reading is Believing -- Don't Stop Believing," a program meant to inspire elementary students to read. She has worked on the program since the eighth grade with schools in Leeds and Birmingham.

Champion said the platform was inspired by a lifelong passion about literacy.

"I was brought up in a home that taught me to love reading," Champion said.

Williams' platform is "Through a Child's Eyes: Conquering Childhood Grief," inspired by her own early childhood experience with the death of her father. Williams said her social platform is two-pronged: encouraging communities to take advantage of the grief services available to them and encouraging parents to pay attention to how their children cope with grief.

"More than anything, I am a child advocate," Williams said, adding she speaks about childhood grief at churches, schools and other locations.

This week, the UA students are participating in activities including rehearsals of pageant routines and nightly events in Atlantic City. The week of activities precedes the beginning of preliminary competitions next Tuesday.

The preliminaries include interviews, lifestyle and fitness, talent and evening wear competitions ahead of the live broadcast of the pageant at 8 p.m. CST on Sept. 15. On Sept. 14, the contestants will participate in the Miss America "Show Us Your Shoes" parade, an Atlantic City tradition resurrected when the pageant returned to the beachside town. …

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