Lauren Bradford stood in a line of Auburn women on stage, excited to be there and taking the day as practice for future pageants, but when her name was called, she could not hide her surprise.
Shocked, humbled and excited were just a few emotions that Lauren Bradford said she felt when she heard her name called as Miss Auburn University 2019 on Oct. 7, 2018.
From Gulf Shores, Alabama, Lauren Bradford, freshman in finance, has experience in pageants, coming off her run as Miss Outstanding Teen Alabama 2018.
Many look up to Miss AU, and Lauren Bradford said she plans to make it her mission to connect with people. Her platform relates to the overuse of technology. She has found a passion in encouraging people of all ages to put down their phones and computers and make connections.
Though technology in education is inevitable and needed in some ways, Lauren Bradford encourages teachers to limit their use of technology.
“Technology is so much in education, but a lot of times, teachers don’t realize how much time they are letting their kids use their [computers] and wasting time,” Lauren Bradford said. “A lot that I focused on was personal overuse of technology, though.”
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Lauren Bradford advocates for face-to-face communication and teaching, rather than using screens to connect with others.
Only a freshman, Lauren Bradford never thought that she would be the next Miss AU. She went into the pageant relaxed, thinking that she had no chance of winning so young, and that it would be great practice for future preliminary pageants.
“When you look at pictures, you can see that I was so shocked,” Lauren Bradford said.
She has been in love with Auburn since she was young and knew that Auburn was the place for her. More than that, she knew that Miss AU was a title that she wanted to compete for.
“Never in a million years did I think I would get this title as a freshman,” she said. “It was really empowering to know that. I definitely did not see myself capable of being Miss Auburn University, but the Lord gave me that title. Even though I never imagined it by myself.”
Lauren Bradford is humbled to be representing Auburn.
“Representing Auburn is to be representing something that is full of love,” she said.
Though Miss Alabama is next, Lauren Bradford is more focused on what she can do for the University currently.
“Miss Auburn University isn’t just a road to Miss Alabama,” she said. “Right now, I’m really trying to envision what I want to do in my year as Miss Auburn University and how I want to impact our campus and incorporate my platform. I’m just taking it one step at a time.”
However, Lauren Bradford cannot explain how excited she is for the Miss Alabama pageant. It was something that she has always been striving for but not something she thought would be in such close reach.
Lauren Bradford was not raised in the pageant world, and it surprised her mother when she opened up about getting involved with them.
“My mom has just poured so much into me from the get-go,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience for both of us. It’s been such a journey, not just of my own but with her.”
Lisa Bradford never thought her daughter would be a pageant girl, but she has never been prouder of her and what she has accomplished after getting involved with pageants.
At first, the competitions were about scholarship opportunity, but it has turned into more than that.
“I’m really just there as a sounding board, a friend and a mom, of course,” Lisa Bradford said. “We never knew it would take her further than we could have imagined.”
Lisa Bradford was her travel buddy and biggest supporter, gifting her with constructive criticism and uplifting love. She is proud of everything that her daughter has accomplished.
“It just proves to me that hard work pays off,” Lisa Bradford said.
Now, Lauren Bradford has a bigger team behind her. With the title of Miss AU, a team of directors and others are assigned to help Lauren Bradford learn what it is to be Miss AU and help her along her journey, empowering her.
Caroline Shea is the student director of Miss AU and is excited to work alongside Lauren Bradford this upcoming year.
“Lauren is such an accomplished Auburn woman already,” Shea said. “She has many insights to share with the community and student body, and both will benefit greatly from her service.”
Mindy Street, co-director of Miss AU, is ready to positively impact the Auburn campus with Lauren Bradford and support her along the way.
“Regardless of what Miss America 2.0 may bring, we will make sure Lauren has a memorable and exciting year as Miss Auburn University,” Street said.
Lauren Bradford wants to make sure everyone knows that Miss AU is a team, not just her. Thanks to the team behind her, she knows that she will have a great year.
As Miss AU, Lauren Bradford knows that she will be influencing and impacting young women and girls around the state.
She takes it as her responsibility to empower young girls and make sure that they know their worth.
“I would love to pass on that feminine beauty, feminine mystique, is not about outward appearance or how you portray yourself,” she said. “It’s all about how you care for others and empathy.”
Lauren Bradford said it saddens her to see that people care more about appearances than what someone truly brings to the table and how they represent their dignity.
She loves meeting new people, something she is passionate about. Lauren Bradford cannot wait to see who else her journey brings her to and is ready for her reign as Miss AU 2019.
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