Miss Alabama excited about ‘dream’ come true – Former Miss Shelby County prepares for Miss America

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Former Miss Shelby County and current Miss Alabama Deidre Downs made her first official appearance in Shelby County last week.

Downs said she was excited to be back in Shelby County as emcee of the pageant which &uot;started it all.&uot;

Downs’ first pageant appearance and first win was as Miss Shelby County in 2000.

At 19, she said, and a student at the University of Virginia, she was forced to make a decision.

A natural athlete, she was attending the university on a full volleyball scholarship.

&uot;But it’s difficult to be a student-athlete, and I’ve always known I wanted to go to medical school,&uot; she said. &uot;I had to make a decision, and I chose academics over athletics.&uot;

She was forced then to find another way to pay for college.

&uot;Pageants seemed the logical choice,&uot; she said.

Following her 2000 win in Shelby County and a trip to her first Miss Alabama pageant, she went on to win other preliminaries and compete in the Miss Alabama pageant five more times, twice placing as third alternate and once as first alternate before finally winning the title just over a week ago.

&uot;In the pageant process, I’ve grown up a lot. Competition is such a challenge,&uot; she said. &uot;It improves your confidence and helps to conquer your fears. It definitely develops your interview skills which really helped when I applied to medical school.&uot;

Downs was accepted to medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was to start there in the fall. She has defered her start for a year to take care of her duties as Miss Alabama however.

In the meantime, she continues to prepare for the Sept. 18 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.

&uot;I’m still so excited,&uot; she said prior to the Miss Shelby County pageant last week. &uot;This has been my dream, and now that it’s come true, I still can’t believe it.