At Saturday’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt, Savannah Smith will make her debut as Miss Ole Miss. Smith, a public policy and journalism double major from Corinth, captured 80 percent of the vote during the personality elections.
“It was a Tuesday, which is one of my favorite days of the week,” Smith said. “It was just so surreal. It kind of felt like I was in a dream, and I was with all of the people that I loved, and I saw it happening, but it took a moment to process.”
A few weeks removed from election night, Smith said her win still doesn’t feel real.
“The last few weeks have been so humbling,” she said. “We’ve gotten to celebrate people and articulate that it’s not just my Ole Miss — it’s ours.”
Smith said her friends convinced her to run for the title.
“One friend in particular approached me and said, ‘Look, Sav, I think you’re really going to regret it if you don’t,’” she said. “I just really thought about how I love this place, and if I was going to succeed or fail here, it would be a great experience either way. I love and I trust these people. I think after I came to realize that, I sat down one night and just wrote out all of the reasons why I want to do this.”
After she decided to run, she selected a team of close friends to help run her campaign.
“I think that my time at the university has been so defined by the core people that are in my life,” she said. “I talked to them and asked them if they would really want to help do this, and they were all onboard, and after that, it all sort of just began to grow into something real.”
Smith ran on a platform called “Our Ole Miss,” which didn’t focus solely on her but on the people at the university as a whole.
“One night, I was sitting in the Honors College, and we had been talking about all of these things about making people feel seen and heard and appreciated and that they had a seat at the table and that they were important,” she said. “I was thinking I just had to articulate what all of this meant, and the song ‘Not Mine Anyway’ came on.”
Smith said the song inspired her to create her “Our Ole Miss” platform.
“From day one, I said the only way I could do this is if it were something that was bigger than me or any single one person,” she said. “It’s about taking ownership over the fact that this is our school, and these are our good parts, our bad parts; this is the room that we have to grow, and these are the ways we have grown.”
In addition to working to see what everyone on campus has to offer the university, Smith will collaborate with Mr. Ole Miss winner Tucker Fox to create a service project to debut later this year.
Becoming a Rebel was part of a family tradition for Smith.
“When I thought of college, this is the place I always had in the back of my mind,” she said. “This is where my grandparents went to school, where my parents went to school, and I grew up coming to games in the Grove and always hearing stories about their time here.”
Ole Miss ended up being the only school Smith applied to, and she arrived on campus eager to get involved.
In addition to winning the title of Miss Ole Miss, Smith serves as a co-director of the Ole Miss Big Event, the vice president of the Columns Society, an orientation leader and an Ole Miss ambassador. She is also a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Chi Omega sorority.
Smith said her favorite Ole Miss memories include big experiences like the 2014 win against Alabama and smaller moments like time spent with friends.
“There have just been many sweet days,” she said. “I have this little breakfast club thing with my friends, and we always go to Bottletree (Bakery). We all ride around and listen to music, and it’s just so fun.”
Smith said it is the people that make her love her time at Ole Miss.
“Being a Rebel has a lot of heart to it,” she said. “I think that we are strong and resilient and have a broken past with so much potential to have a bright future. I think that we love deeply, and we really, truly care for one another. I don’t think that people are like this anywhere else in the world.”