Jillian Smith expects whirlwind in months leading to Miss America competition | TheUnion.com

Jillian Smith expects whirlwind in months leading to Miss America competition

Jillian Smith, a 2013 Nevada Union graduate and senior at Cal Poly, is competing this week in Fresno for the Miss California crown.

Three women, one of them Grass Valley’s Jillian Smith, waited on stage to learn which of them would become the next Miss California.

Smith, who’d never made it to the top 15 before Saturday night, didn’t know what to expect.

And then they said her name.

“As soon as they said my name — the whole moment is kind of a blackout blur,” said Smith, 22. “I was shaking. I was so excited.”

“I hope to make Grass Valley really proud this year.” — Miss California Jillian Smith

Taking the crown in a ceremony held at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Fresno, Smith now will compete in the Sept. 10 Miss America competition.

Smith anticipates a whirlwind from now until then. She has an upcoming appearance in San Mateo for its July Fourth festivities before returning to Grass Valley for a few of days. Then she’ll travel to Orange County and prepare for Miss America.

“This is something I’ve wanted since I was 5,” she said.

Saturday’s pageant eliminated many contestants when it named the Top 15. Smith’s name was the 12th called.

The Top 15 then competed in swimsuit, evening gown and talent categories. A Cal Poly student, Smith performed “White Water Chopsticks” on the piano.

Awards for best interview and Miss Congeniality were given, and then Smith found herself in the Top 5. And then, moments later, she was Miss California.

As Miss California, Smith will visit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, where she’ll hear people’s stories. She’ll also focus on her own project — Dude. Be Nice — which throws surprise parties for people who feel unappreciated. Its message is one of kindness, gratitude and inclusivity.

“It’s all about promoting positivity,” Smith said.

Smith, who’s competed in pageants since age 13, said she knows what it’s like to lose a competition. As Miss California, she wants to attend local pageants and meet with winners and those who feel discouraged after a loss.

“I’m super, super grateful to come from the small town of Grass Valley,” she said. “I hope to make Grass Valley really proud this year.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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