Callie Walker’s appearances schedule slowed down, but her preparations for Miss America remained intense over the last month.
“We have checkpoints through my ballet piece,” Walker said. “When I get to a certain point, it’s check, that’s done, keep going. There’s also a lot of preparation for the on-stage question – opening statement, body paragraph and closing, but in a span of two or three statements.”
The annual Miss America pageant will be held Sunday in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Walker is one of three women with ties to UA who will compete.
Walker, who was crowned Miss Alabama earlier this year, hopes to become the fourth Miss Alabama to win the Miss America crown. Walker is a senior musical theatre major, and she is hopeful her talent routine will carry her to a win.
“It’s not just a passion – it’s what I’m doing for my career,” Walker said. “I hope that radiates through Boardwalk Hall.”
Allison Farris earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in management information systems at UA and is currently Miss District of Columbia.
Kayla Repasky is a senior nursing major at UA and was crowned Miss Pennsylvania earlier this year.
All three women have spent the last few months sharpening their individual talent routines and touring their respective states and regions to promote their individual platforms. They’ve also been tracking current events and practicing for the question-and-answer portion of the competition. What better way to get to know UA’s contestants than with our own Q-and-A?
Have you gotten used to being “Miss _____”?
Walker: I don’t think you do! It’s such an honor to represent this state, and it’s always special when you can walk in a room and empower people to pursue their dreams to the fullest. I love being able to say that’s my job.
Farris: It’s great. I love being busy. I always joke that, by day, I’m an applications developer, and by night, I’m Miss D.C. One of the things I work on is setting expectations with a committee, so working with the Miss D.C. board of directors, but also with my team at Microsoft to ensure I’m fulfilling expectations appropriately to make sure no wires are crossed in terms of expectations and communication.
Repasky: No. It’s still so crazy. I’m hoping it sets in soon, though. Right now, I’m like, ‘oh yeah, that’s me!’ It’s the best job in the world.
What do you listen to when traveling for speaking engagements and events?
Repasky: The Greatest Showman soundtrack. “Come Alive” is my favorite song. I also listen to country music a lot – Alabama got me acclimated to the genre.
Farris: Plenty of podcasts while preparing for Miss America. My favorite newscasts are New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR’s Up First. As far as music, Drake’s new album … you never listen to too much Drake, right? And I’ve always been a fan of electronic dance music; GarageBand actually helped shift my focus from music to technology.
What do you miss most about campus and Tuscaloosa?
Farris: I miss the warm weather. It’s a lot colder in D.C. during the winters. I also love the campus’ beauty, and being able to walk from building to building. It’s a true college campus in a true college town. You don’t really understand how special that is until you experience it.
Walker: I had my Miss America send off, and a ton of my friends from the musical theatre program were there. It’s a really small program – classes consist of 14 students. They’ll go on and graduate, and they’ll be gone when I return. That’s sad. I’m going to miss that. It’s truly a family.
Repasky: The people. I love meeting all of the different people from all over the country. That, and definitely the football games.
Where is/was your chill spot on campus or in town when you had downtime?
Farris: If it wasn’t the Ferguson Center, it was Kappa Alpha Theta. I was actively involved in my sorority and the MIS department, where I was an ambassador and TA (teaching assistant). I was also a minor in Chinese and was an English Language Institute tutor at B.B. Comer.
Walker: Being a musical theatre major in Tuscaloosa, there isn’t a lot of downtime. Our rehearsals are from 6 to 10 p.m., then there’s homework and getting to bed. On the weekends, I love going to the river walk. And I’m catching up on Netflix and different musicals with my friends.
Repasky: I love Heritage House. I go there to do my homework a lot and have a chai tea latte.
The fall semester started recently – any advice for incoming freshmen at UA?
Repasky: Get involved in any and everything you can. When I was a freshman, I met a peer leader that really helped me transition to campus. Coming from so far out of state, UA was a totally different experience. My peer leader motivated me to become a peer leader my sophomore year and share that First Year Experience. I loved it.
Walker: Do your best to find your group on campus. A lot of freshmen have the opportunity to go into the Greek system, but I didn’t. It was a bit of a transition for me, seeing my friends from high school have immediate friend groups, but I found like-minded people in the Alpha Psi Omega: Theatre Honor Society. Go to Get on Board Day and find where you fit in – it helps that transition so much.
Farris: Explore. Don’t be afraid to explore different subjects or even choose the wrong major.
What’s your favorite Miss America moment? Do you always root for your home state?
Repasky: I grew up watching it, but I never considered myself doing that. I competed on a whim when I was 17, and the Miss Pennsylvania who was giving up her crown that year came up to me and said, ‘you’re great, you’re smart and beautiful and should pursue this.’ I idolized her greatly, and her telling me ‘I should do this’ was my moment.
Farris: I always watched. When I started to compete within the Miss America organization (2014), is when Nina Davuliri won. At the time, I didn’t necessarily know who I identified with – I wasn’t white enough for the white kids, but I wasn’t Asian enough for the Asian kids. And being from a multicultural home, it was hard to relate to the Miss Americas on TV, but I remember Nina, even though I was rooting for Miss Alabama. I just remember feeling so proud that the last two standing that year were a Chinese American and an Indian American, two candidates I could relate to. And both were in STEM! That drove me to want to continue to pursue Miss America, even after getting my master’s.
Walker: My mom (Angela Tower Walker) was Miss Alabama, so we always watched. It’s interesting now, with social media, girls have followings. You think, ‘this girl is so funny, let’s follow her.’ Social media helps build a support system. For me, the biggest year I remember is when Deidre Downs won and represented Alabama. I was still young, but I remember it vividly.
This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.