Shawnee High School grad is Miss USA 2021

Credit: WHAS-TV

Credit: WHAS-TV

A Shawnee High School graduate is the new Miss USA.

Former Springfield resident Ellen Smith, who goes by Elle, competed as Miss Kentucky to capture the crown Monday night during the 70th Miss USA pageant.

She now will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel.

Credit: Elle Smith/Miss USA

Credit: Elle Smith/Miss USA

The pageant was streamed live Monday night on hulu.

Smith’s mother, Lydia, said that prior to this year, her daughter had never competed in a pageant. However, she was inspired to do so after seeing her former classmate, Brittany Reid, win the Miss Ohio Teen USA pageant. Ellen made it her New Year’s resolution to train for and compete in the Miss Kentucky pageant.

“We were all shocked, but this experience has been wonderful,” Lydia Smith said earlier Monday.

Smith graduated from Shawnee in 2016, and as a student, she participated in choir, orchestra and drama. She also was a volleyball player and an honor student, her mother said.

“The amount of support she has received is just overwhelming,” Lydia Smith said. “And the pageant is really about empowering women.”

Ellen Smith earned a journalism degree at the University of Kentucky and is a multimedia journalist at TV station WHAS 11 in Louisville.

Smith’s TV station followed the competition and posted live updates on Twitter.

“WOW!!! This is quite the accomplishment!! Our Elle Smith is your new MISS USA!” the station tweeted after Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch from Mississippi placed the tiara on Smith’s head.

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