LITTLE ROCK — When Aubrey Elizabeth Reed heard her name called Friday night as the new Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen, she said she was “utterly baffled … so shocked … so excited.”
Reed competed in the pageant as Miss Lake Dardanelle Outstanding Teen. Preliminary competitions took place during the week, and the Top 15 semifinalists were named Friday night, which was the final night of competition.
“I am still on cloud nine,” Reed said Sunday afternoon as she traveled home to Russellville after the weeklong pageant at the Robinson Center in Little Rock. “This is the first free moment I’ve had all week.
“When I realized I had won, I started thinking about all the responsibilities and opportunities I would have when that crown was put on my head,” she said. “I was screaming and bawling and looked out into the audience and saw my family, who were screaming and bawling, too.”
Reed, the 17-year-old daughter of Michael and Paula Swindle of Russellville, said she had her first official interview as Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2017 on Saturday morning.
“I hit the ground running,” Reed said, laughing. “Then there was a photo shoot and a parade Saturday afternoon with all of the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen and Miss Arkansas contestants.
“I was able to dance onstage for the Miss Arkansas Pageant Saturday night and helped with the crowning,” she said. The Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen and Miss Arkansas pageants were held at the same time this year, and in a new venue — the Robinson Center. The Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant had been held in Russellville for the past few years, and the Miss Arkansas Pageant had been held in Hot Springs for many years.
“I’ve had a photo shoot today (Sunday) and I have to be back in Little Rock Monday morning for a 5 a.m. interview,” Reed said, as she began to talk about her responsibilities as Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen.
Reed will compete in the 2017 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s in five weeks,” Reed said, laughing. “We’ve already started getting my paperwork ready. It will be a weeklong pageant pretty much just like the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant, but there will be 50 girls instead of 34.”
As Arkansas’ Miss Outstanding Teen, Reed won a $5,000 scholarship, courtesy of the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen and Miss America
Outstanding Teen programs, and more than $25,000 in awards, wardrobe and gifts.
During the week of competition, she received additional awards, including Preliminary Evening Gown on June 14, which was a $100 scholarship given by Rusty and Lori Hart; the Overall Interview Award, a $500 scholarship given by Laura Leigh Turner, Miss Arkansas Outstanding
Teen 2012; the Applause Evening Gown Award, a $400 scholarship given by the Harts; and the Most Talented Dancer Award, a $250 scholarship given by Brighton Barnard, Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2013.
Reed is a senior at Russellville High School, where she is captain of the dance team and volunteers at local elementary schools to provide dance instruction after school. She also participates in a teacher cadet class at Russellville High School that is part of the Arkansas Teacher Cadets Program. This is a teacher-recruitment program through the Arkansas Department of Education that allows students who are planning to become teachers to go into schools and observe teachers.
“I want to be a middle school or junior high school English teacher,” Reed said. “I remember those years well — both the good and the bad. I want to make a positive influence on young people’s lives.”
As she travels the state of Arkansas, Reed will promote the Children’s Miracle Network, as well as her own personal platform — STAR: Empowering America’s Youth.
Reed said STAR stands for “Speak up for yourself and others; think about your words and actions; accept others for who they are; and reach out to those in need.”
For her talent in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant, Reed performed a lyrical dance to “Tomorrow.”
Reed will promote the same platform and perform the same lyrical dance at the national competition.
Reed said this was her “fourth and final try” in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant.
“I’ve already taken my STAR program to thousands of students in Arkansas in the four years I have competed in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant,” she said. “I hope as Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen I can travel to even more schools and civic groups in the state. My platform is suitable for students in preschool up to high school. I am willing to speak to any group that is willing to listen to me.”
Reed first competed in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Pageant four years ago as Miss Diamond Lakes, then Miss Petit Jean Valley, Miss Ouachita River and, finally, Miss Lake Dardanelle.
Her mother, the former Paula Montgomery, was Miss Arkansas 1995; she competed as Miss Little Rock.
“It’s just overwhelming,” Paula Montgomery Swindle said of her daughter being named Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen. “This has been a totally different perspective [for me] on this side of [a pageant]. My sisters, [other former Miss Arkansas winners], wanted me to sit with them. I told them, ‘I’m just a mom in this one.’
“I am so overjoyed for her,” Swindle said of her daughter. “She has worked so hard. She never gave up.”
Reed said her mom “is my best friend … my biggest fan. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”
After high school graduation, Reed hopes to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
“I want to major in secondary education,” she said. “I also hope to try out for the pom squad. I want to be on the Razorback pom squad.”
Organizations and schools wishing to book Reed for an appearance can contact Thomas Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 866-0148.