Smith, a 2016 Shawnee High School graduate, competed as Miss Kentucky to capture the Miss USA crown during the 70th Miss USA pageant on Nov. 29 in Oklahoma.
While she was a student at Shawnee, Smith participated in choir, orchestra and drama. She also was a volleyball player and an honor student, her mother, Lydia Smith, said.
Elle Smith earned a journalism degree at the University of Kentucky and is a multimedia journalist at TV station WHAS 11 in Louisville.
“Working as a journalist in local news, I know the importance of journalism in society: we ask the hard questions, we get those answers and we educate the community,” Smith said.
Miss Universe candidates select platforms to raise awareness on topics that are important to them, and Smith’s is cervical cancer education and awareness. Her grandmother, whom she described as her “absolute favorite person in the world,” died of cervical cancer in 2015.
Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza, of Mexico, was to crown the next Miss Universe.