Livingston, Ala. Paige Ip of Meridian is the new Miss University of West Alabama. Ip is a sophomore pre-med major. She will represent UWA in the 2014 Miss Alabama Pageant in June.
Ip said her childhood dream was to touch the lives of others through her actions.
"When I was crowned Miss UWA, I felt like my dream was finally about to come true," said Ip. "This will open so many doors to raise awareness for my platform."
Ip’s platform is "Speaking Up for Those with Down syndrome."
"I chose to focus on raising awareness for the many individuals who are diagnosed with Down syndrome," she said. "The issues that surround Down syndrome became apparent to me when I first met my nephew, Baby Jack. Although he isn't my biological nephew, I see him as being part of my family. Jack truly opened my eyes to what it is like to love someone with such a disorder and I am forever changed by him."
Ip was also selected as the talent winner for an acrobatic jazz routine to Prince’s “It’s About That Walk.” Senior Alesha McNeese was selected as first alternate.
Kia Turner won the swimsuit preliminary and Ansley Shipp was named the People’s Choice winner, as the audience voted through monetary donations benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network, the Miss America organization’s national platform.