Miss Claflin: Behind the crown

May 07, 2022


As her eyes flutter open to see the new day, she thinks to herself what the day will consist of. She gets up, prays, then looks in the mirror and states, “Today is going to be a great day.” -- May 2, 2022 8 a.m.

 She showers while she sings her favorite artist, Beyoncè. As she gets out of the shower, she turns on her hair curling iron to warm up while she gets dressed for the day that she must take on as the Miss Claflin University.

 “I’m not like other queens. I don’t wake up organized and ready to go,” Leslie-Payton Alston says.

Leslie-Payton, 22 and born and raised in Sumter, is a graduating senior, member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority Inc., as ell as a music major minoring in education with a concentration in voice.

Leslie-Payton is not your ordinary music student. She is in fact a classically trained vocalist. She is educated in music theory and is trained to sing in different languages. After graduating from Clalfin, she plans to take some time to look around and find a school that best fits her in order to further her education in music.

Down the line she plans to teach. Any area that is English suits her. She feels confident and helpful when speaking to crowds.

Leslie-Payton describes her journey as Miss Claflin and as a full-time student as “a growing experience”.

“I love the fact that it really built something. Not only did it exceed my expectation of who I could be as a person, it built my confidence, mentally and physically. It changed me in ways unimaginable.”

Having such an important role, however, is not for the weak.

“It’s what you make of the position, not what the position makes you,” she says.

Leslie-Payton mentions her family being a big part of her journey of juggling being an active sorority member, student and leader. She expresses that her parents and older sister have been her biggest supporters, stating that she wouldn’t be where she is without their unconditional support.

“They were quick to tell me that this isn’t a race. I’m on my time and God’s time.”

Even the days she wasn’t up to it, her family would always be the ones she could turn to. The times she isn’t feeling motivated, she didn’t have to call because her family is always a step ahead and calls her first to make sure she is all right. Always being there to catch her crown when it’s falling.

“Everything happens for a reason and when times are low, you have to count your blessings.”

Leslie-Payton plans to finish what she started and encourages others to stay true to the person they are because it is all you can do.

“It was just a self-evaluation thing. I’m always learning more about myself just to be a better person for the next person.”

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