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2011 Miss UF Reflects on her Reign

Kelly Hawkins won Miss UF in 2011 as a freshman, and now her year as Miss UF has come to a close. We got a chance to get to know the 19-year-old public relations sophomore and see what the past year has been like for her.
Kelly said one thing Miss UF has taught her is that the Gator Nation really is everywhere. She has enjoyed getting to know all kinds of people and said serving as Miss UF has been a huge honor.
“Branching out has been cool and seeing how much love people have for the university,” she said.
After Kelly was crowned Miss UF in February 2011, her duties were very focused on her preparation for Miss Florida until the Miss Florida pageant in July.
“I’ve made some of the best friends and mentors,” she said. “It is so humbling to represent UF at that level.”
She said her favorite part of being Miss UF is being an ambassador for the university, a role that became her primary focus after the Miss Florida pageant.
 “People take you way more seriously as Miss UF than in other pageants,” Kelly said.
Part of her duties involved taking a tour at Shands Hospital where she visited Children’s Miracle Network kids.
“Seeing kids who live their lives in hospitals was very emotional,” Kelly said. “They said ‘Princess!!’ when I would walk in wearing my crown.”
Kelly said visiting the sick children made her step back and see all the blessings in her life.
“You look at the kids and know nothing in your life will be as bad as what they went through,” she said.
Kelly participated in pageants during high school in Jacksonville, where she’s from.
Competing in Miss Florida in July was not a first time experience for Kelly. She was a contestant in Miss Florida during her senior year of high school because she won a pageant representing the Northeast coast of Florida.
Kelly’s favorite part of pageants is the interview, but she said each category teaches you about yourself.
“The evening gown part teaches poise and forces you to grow,” she said. “The swimsuit portion makes me think I can do anything.”
Kelley’s talent, dancing, is actually why she got involved in pageants in the first place. She said her dancing has improved a lot because of pageants and she is now a member of the UF dance team.
“I have the schedule of a student athlete,” she said.
She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and is interning for GatorVision online.
Kelly’s favorite part of being in Miss UF was how fast-paced the pageant was, she said.
“It’s almost a blur,” Kelly said.
But one thing Kelly remembers very well is the moment before the winner was announced. She said she’ll never forget that moment. She realized then how lucky she was to be in Miss UF at all. She knew she had either won or hadn’t placed in the top.
“I took a moment to see my family in the audience,” Kelly said. Her whole family, all her sorority sisters and her pageant director from high school were all there to cheer her on.
“The support I got was the cherry on top,” she said.
In her biography for the program for Miss UF 2012 competition, Kelly wrote a note to the girls competing that the actual pageant doesn’t even compare to the rest of the year.
“It’s something that you get to do for a year,” she said. “Be very thankful and grateful.”
Kelly said she is very proud and impressed by the girls competing this year. She’s sad her year as Miss UF is over.
“It’s been amazing to be Miss UF as a freshman. It really has defined my college experience,” Kelly said.

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