Ali Seys, a junior Illinois State University PRSSA member, is the reigning Miss Illinois Valley who finds that her pageant life is very similar to the public relations world.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Orion, Ill., which is a small town outside of the Quad Cities. I am also the youngest of four; I have two brothers and a sister. I also have a nephew who is 13 months old, and I love hanging out with him and watching him grow. I have played soccer since I was six, so after high school I went to Scott Community College to play soccer for two years. Now I am a junior at ISU majoring in public relations and minoring in agriculture.
Did you grow up participating in pageants?
No, I grew up on a farm so my childhood was quite opposite from the pageant life you see on shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras.” I had to beg my mom for two years to let me compete, and she finally let me enter my county fair’s pageant when I was 12. Now I compete in the Miss America System (Miss Illinois Organization).
How long do you plan on participating in pageants?
I am the reigning Miss Illinois Valley and will crown my successor at the end of March. Then I will be done for this competition year because of an awesome internship opportunity I have this summer. I have said that I am done competing multiple times and always come back so I am sure I will find myself competing again.
How does your pageant experience tie in to public relations?
For the interview phase of competition, I have to submit a resume and platform statement. Before the judges even meet me, they have read my resume, and I am sure they look me up online just like an employer would. I have to be very aware of my personal brand and pitch myself to the judges in the interview. Then, throughout my reign, I have to make sure I stick to my personal brand and promote it, along with the Miss Illinois and Miss America Organizations' brands.
Why did you join ISU PRSSA?
Once I transferred here, I wanted to get involved right away. Abby Brennan, historian, and Marrison Worthington, vice president, were teaching assistants in my COM 178 class. They encouraged everyone to join, and I thought it would be a perfect way to meet people and get involved in the public relations program here at ISU.
How was your internship with Redbird Athletics last semester?
It was great! I worked with a group of interns and graduate assistants that made it an awesome experience. I got to work with real clients and be actively involved with promotional events. My favorite event was working with the Special Olympics soccer team during an ISU soccer game. It was also really neat to be on the sideline for every football game.
Are you looking into any internship opportunities for the summer?
People always ask me what I am going to do with a public relations and agriculture degree. Lucky for me, it was not that hard to find a perfect match. This summer I will be a marketing and communications intern at Wyffels Hybrids. It is a small corporate seed corn company in Geneseo, Ill. I am really excited to have this opportunity and to join the Wyffels team.
Questions composed by Analita Voss
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.