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Cal Poly Journalism Senior Crowned Miss California 2017

Cal Poly journalism senior Jillian Smith was crowned Miss California 2017 and was awarded with over $25,000 in scholarships for continuing her education. The competition was held on July 1 in Fresno, Calif.

Smith recalled wanting to be Miss California since she was five years old. “I never looked at it like I was preparing to be in a pageant,” Smith said. “I looked at it more like I was preparing to be the best version of myself that I can be when I walked into that interview room or when I walked onstage.”

Cal Poly Journalism Senior was crowned Miss California 2017
Journalism senior Jillian Smith has dreamed of becoming
Miss California since she was five years old.

Now that she has fulfilled this dream, Smith is taking one year off from school to dedicate her time to the duties of Miss California. She will return to Cal Poly in fall 2018 and is set to graduate in December 2018.

The Miss America Foundation is the largest scholarship provider in the world. The scholarships earned will help Smith complete her Bachelor’s degree.

“It opens up doors that I didn’t even know were possible,” Smith said.

The scholarships will also allow Smith to pursue her Master’s degree — something she had never considered before. Now that she has the opportunity, Smith said she will take time to consider her options regarding Master’s programs.

Smith said her experience as a journalism major helped her understand the role of the media better, thus helping her excel in the interview portion of the competition.

“My major has definitely made me more aware of how the media works,” Smith said. “I’ve been able to talk about that more in the interview room when it comes to how the media portrays current event issues.”

In addition to the $25,000 scholarship, Smith received a $1,000 Interview Award Scholarship for her excellence in the interview room.

Smith also said she believes her experience in Miss America will make her a better journalist. As for her career after Miss California, Smith ultimately sees herself involved in entertainment media.

“I’ve always figured that if I can do something with my degree that makes people happy and makes people feel good at the end of the day, that would be ideal,” Smith said.


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