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A spirit that is not afraid

Top five candidates react to Miss Auburn callouts

<p>Top five Miss Auburn candidates pose for a photo on Cater Lawn Nov. 28. From the left, Alexxia Carter, Claire Congo, Abbie Starr, Lily Pounders and Grace Crim.</p>

Top five Miss Auburn candidates pose for a photo on Cater Lawn Nov. 28. From the left, Alexxia Carter, Claire Congo, Abbie Starr, Lily Pounders and Grace Crim.

On the chilly night of Nov. 28, students gathered around the steps of Cater Hall to hear the announcement of the 2024-25 Miss Auburn candidates. One of the five women announced will serve as Miss Auburn following an election in the spring semester. 

The five were chosen from a list of 20 announced the night of Monday, Nov. 27.  

Miss Auburn serves as the official hostess of the university, a tradition stretching back to 1934. She is also a member of the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen, the "official hosts and hostesses of Auburn University" who can be seen along the sidelines at every football game.  

Nominations were open for a month in the fall semester, closing Nov. 16. Like all SGA candidates, Miss Auburn hopefuls must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and be enrolled full-time at the university.  

One candidate may be nominated by each “university-operated residence hall, social fraternity, social sorority and organization,” according to the SGA Code of Laws. The candidate must be an undergraduate female student.  

Kate Preston, senior in chemical engineering, serves as the 2023-24 Miss Auburn.  

For positions with more than 20 nominees, a series of interviews are used to select the top candidates in accordance with the SGA Code of Laws. 

The preliminary interviews for Miss Auburn are conducted by a panel consisting of the SGA elections advisor, the SGA executive director of elections, Miss Auburn’s chief of staff and three students. The final interviews are conducted by the SGA president, currently J. D. Jones, senior in biomedical sciences, Miss Auburn, currently Preston, a representative from the provost’s office and two members of the university faculty and staff.  

Abbie Starr, junior in animal science, was nominated by Ag Ambassadors, a student recruiting group within the College of Agriculture. She said she was in awe following the nomination process. 

“Your heart is beating like a million miles an hour, just waiting on them to say [your] name, even if you’re not expecting it,” Starr said, describing the callouts.  

Like other candidates, Starr said she went to callouts not expecting any particular outcome. Getting to hear her name called was a “surreal experience” that led to a joyful welcome from the rest of the girls.  

On Tuesday night, Starr’s name was the last on the list. By the time the announcers made it to her name, she had already accepted the loss. 

“When I heard my name, it was just like complete shock,” Starr said. “Immediately, tears just welled in my eyes. I just couldn’t help it, you know, and to be surrounded by all the people that I love so much was so sweet.” 

Grace Crim, junior in nutrition science, was nominated by Student Recruiters, the group responsible for university-wide campus tours.  

Crim said she appreciates the support she has received following her nomination, both from her friends and the rest of the Auburn community. Her love for the university is what she believes got her to the top five.  

After pausing to say “War Eagle” to someone passing by, Crim described her shock and anticipation during the past week. Like Starr, Crim didn’t think she would make it so far in the nomination process and expressed gratitude to those who made it possible.

“My jaw just dropped,” Crim said, describing her immediate reaction to the callouts. “It’s such an honor just because everyone up for it is so worthy.” 

Besides being speechless, Crim said she was excited to work closely with her friends and fellow candidates as they each chart their campaign plans.  

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Like Crim, Alexxia Carter, junior in communication, believes her “unwavering love and support” for Auburn got her to the top five. Carter was nominated by her sorority, Delta Zeta.  

“I was just, in that moment, very happy and proud,” Carter said. “So, I knew that, regardless, at the end of the night, I had accomplished something.” 

Carter described the experience as “above all, a blessing.” Grateful for the support of her friends, she plans to prepare for her campaign over the coming months and will be “at peace,” whatever the outcome.  

“I’m just so excited that I’m here for this journey not only for myself, but for the other four candidates that I’m doing it with,” Carter said, noting she knew all the other candidates before the callouts.  

Believing all the other candidates are passionate and qualified, Carter said she would be happy with any of the other women winning.  

“And at the end of the day, whoever wins, I'm going to be proud of them, and it's been amazing,” Carter said. “More than anything, I'm just going to be happy that my message got out there even if I don't win.” 

Claire Congo, junior in nutrition science, was nominated by Campus Kitchen, a group that works to reduce food waste and deliver meals. 

Congo enjoyed getting to meet the other nominees during the interview process, which she described as fun and exciting.   

Lily Pounders, junior in biomedical sciences, was nominated by College of Sciences and Mathematics leaders, a group of student ambassadors from COSAM.  

Like the other candidates, Pounders described her nomination as an amazing experience and thinks highly of her fellow nominees. Leaving the initial interview session feeling unsure, Pounders was surprised to hear her name at the callouts. She enjoyed discussing her love for Auburn and the change she wants to see happen with the interviewers.  

“I really think that being genuine, being honest and then having great community, just awesome people who have taken the time to pour into me, really made all the difference,” Pounders said, explaining what she thought got her to the top five. 

As she continues to engage her fellow students, Pounders hopes to keep an open mind. She believes the best change comes from when “we listen to one another and understand that no one has the exact, perfect ideas.”  

“When we work as a team, we can truly make [Auburn] better,” Pounders said.  

Pounders and the other candidates will begin to campaign in the coming weeks, sharing their vision for the university with other students. Elections for Miss Auburn and other SGA positions will take place in late January to early February. 

Connor Copeland | Campus Editor

Connor Copeland, freshman in English literature, has been with The Plainsman since fall 2023

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