AUBURN, AL (WBRC) - She's young, beautiful, and talented, and she's about to turn her high heels in for combat boots. It's an endearing story of an Auburn High School student who is about to see her dream come true, and the dream is not to win beauty pageants but rather to serve our country.
Jessica Baeder has always wanted to serve, just as her father and her grandfathers did before her. Her parents Patrick & Francesca would smile when in fifth grade, Jessica would don a U.S Army doctor's outfit and remind her mom and dad that she wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon…in the Army. As Jessica grew, so too did her wide array of interests: Dance, karate (she's now a 2nd-degree black belt), youth leadership programs, student council, even the international baccalaureate program. Oh, and the Miss America program. Why not? Jessica was an accomplished dancer, an educated, well-spoken kid who had looks and poise. Into it, she dove, and success soon followed.
Besides calling herself an 18-year-old Auburn High School senior, Jessica Baeder can call herself Miss America's Outstanding Teen. Let's face it - a young woman has to have her act together to be named the winner of Miss America's Outstanding Alabama teen competition, but the national winner? Wow! Of course, with that title came more to include on her resume, and college offers followed. Consider Jessica much like a 5-star football recruit: Colleges everywhere covet her, but only one will get her: The United States Military Academy at West Point. With endless opportunities in front of her, Jessica chose to serve her country.
The future is so bright for Jessica she has to wear shades. Her mother, Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, an Auburn University professor, says her daughter will report to West Point in early July. Six weeks of rise-and-shine, in your face, drop and give me twenty basic training will follow, after which Jessica will be on her way. It's been this teen's dream for years, and now it's about to become a reality: Jessica Baeder is in the Army now.
Hard work, set goals, discipline, and smarts are traits that have been with Jessica for years: They have helped her win beauty pageants, helped her in competitive dance, and helped her in school. Now it's time for Jessica to help America - and for that we are grateful.