Ready to make Alabama proud

Alabama Living Magazine
Photo by Governor’s office/ Hal Yeager

Miss Alabama 2021 is Lauren Bradford, a Gulf Shores native whose accomplishments and talents make her a worthy representative for our state. She’s a 2021 summa cum laude graduate of Auburn University with a degree in finance, and after her year of service as Miss Alabama, she’ll attend Vanderbilt University to pursue an advanced degree in finance. She’s a talented classical violinist, who began studying the instrument at age 6; it’s her talent in the competitions, and she continues to practice every day.

Preparing for the Miss America competition in December has become a full-time job; she spends her time networking, having meetings about her social impact initiative, called “UNPLUG: The Digital Diet Plan,” doing interviews, visiting sponsors, traveling to events and doing speaking engagements, and practicing for the interview portion of the competition. She’s had several events in her hometown (her parents, Wade and Lisa Bradford, are members of Baldwin EMC), and says her community has been incredibly supportive; she’s the first Miss Alabama from Baldwin County in the 100-year history of Miss Alabama. – Allison Law

What has life been like since you won the crown this summer?

Life has been so full and so rewarding. I have had opportunities that I never dreamed – I’ve already traveled the state quite a bit and met people from all backgrounds. I have experienced the fullest extent of the word “busy” like never before. This is an incredible honor that I want to view with reverence in every moment – I never want to take it for granted.

How did you prepare for the Miss Alabama pageant?

I was scheduled to compete in Miss Alabama in the summer of 2020. Because of the pandemic, it was postponed for one year. So, I actually held my local title of Miss Jefferson County for almost two years before competing at Miss Alabama. Throughout that time, I grew so much as a person. … I did all of the external preparation: curating my talent (I performed “My Heart Will Go On” from the film “Titanic” on violin), mock interviews, always watching the evolvement of current events, growing my Social Impact Initiative, etc.

But I also did a lot of the internal preparation as well. My faith is the most important thing in my life. … Throughout preparation, my faith kept me anchored to something so much bigger than me. It helped me to have a vision of what my goals actually would be as Miss Alabama. It gave me a purpose for the why behind even competing for this job. And it gave me peace during the competition week.

Talk about your social impact initiative.

Growing up, it was always a rule in our household that we would not get a phone until we were going into high school. Therefore, I was able to have a front row seat to how technology usage was impacting my peers in an alarming way. I watched as communication abilities decreased, grades slipped, and addictions to screens were formed. … 

I created “UNPLUG: The Digital Diet Plan” in 2015. The name came from the parallel philosophy of balance in food intake, where dessert is an occasional indulgence. Our leisure technology consumption should be the same: integrated into life, work, and education in a cohesive way and used for its intended purpose: as a tool. UNPLUG is ultimately an educational campaign for people of all ages to gain an understanding of the harmful consequences of tech overuse, while learning practical steps to find a balance of use. 

It has grown beyond my wildest dreams; I believe that people everywhere inherently understand that screens have the potential to control our lives and strip us from our abilities to engage in human connectivity. I’m proud to have spread a positive message of how we can integrate technology into our lives in a healthier way. 

Tell us, how does it feel to wear that beautiful crown?

It’s so surreal! Every time I put it on, I try to take a moment to appreciate that I have been given this opportunity to steward, to make an impact, to be a role-model, to be a champion for those who need one. I never want to forget that – my heart is full of gratitude. 

To book Bradford for a speaking engagement, visit MissAlabama.com.

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Award-winning Alabama Living is the official statewide publication of the electric cooperatives in Alabama and the largest magazine of its type in the state, reaching some 400,000 electric cooperative consumers.

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