- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Auburn University graduate student Meg McGuffin is the new Miss Alabama.

The 22-year-old Ozark native was crowned Saturday evening, during the pageant’s finale in Birmingham.

McGuffin will take a break from earning her master’s degree in administration of higher education to take on the duties as Miss Alabama, Al.com reported (http://bit.ly/1eWKyAF ).

“I was thinking this is unreal,” she said after being crowned. “There’s no way. I always thought of it as an unattainable goal and suddenly I’m here and it’s just a whirlwind.”

McGuffin will also begin training to represent Alabama at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City in September. McGuffin represented Miss Phenix City on the Alabama stage.

Briana Kinsey was named first runner-up in Saturday’s finale; Hayley Barber was second runner-up; Jessica Procter was third runner-up; and Rachel Persall was fourth runner-up.

McGuffin represented Alabama as Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen 2007 at the 2008 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant.

McGuffin said she is looking forward to expanding her personal platform “Healthy Is The New Skinny,” as well as working with Miss Alabama’s official platform, Children’s Miracle Network.

“I’m looking forward to hanging out with the kids and just trying to make lasting memories,” she said.

She also aims to be known as a personable Miss Alabama.

“I hope that they saw that I’m approachable, relatable and just honest with who I am,” she added. “I want to relate to other people and I want people to see me as a role model that they can talk to and approach any time of the day, no matter where I am.”

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