Abigail Wilbanks

Miss Pride of the South

Hometown:  Clinton, MS

Platform:  Life After 21

Talent:  Pop Vocal

What college did you attend, or are currently attending?  University of Mississippi 

What is your major?  My major is Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education. 

What is your scholastic ambition?  I plan to obtain my degree in elementary education with a special emphasis in special education and to begin working in a public school system with special-needs youth while pursuing my master’s degree in special education and administration.  

Greatest non-academic accomplishment:  I was selected to serve on the Student Activities Association at the University of Mississippi as a freshman out of 500 applicants. 

What is your favorite style of music?  I love all types of music, but my favorite is country music. 

What is your favorite movie genre and why?  My favorite movie genre is romantic comedies.  These types of movies generally show real life situations through laughter.  Laughter is always a good medicine. 

What is your favorite gadget?  My Fitbit I received as a Christmas gift is my favorite gadget.  It keeps me accountable. 

What is your favorite blog?  TheEveryGirl.com provides a variety of information and advice for young women. 

What is your favorite place to visit?  The beach is my favorite place to visit.  My family goes to the beach every year, and we always enjoy relaxing and playing games as a family. 

What is your favorite food?  Chicken-fried rice from OEC, with extra pink sauce, is my favorite food. 

If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you?  If on a deserted island, I would want to have the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  The book is about a grandfather reading a book to his grandson, and it brings back wonderful memories of both my grandfather’s reading and telling me stories.  It is also extremely entertaining, adventurous and humorous, the type of book that would lift my spirits if I were on a deserted island. 

Do you twitter?  I do twitter, but rarely.  I find Instagram and Snapchat are a little more my style. 

What is your favorite? 

Sport: SEC football      Sports Team:  Ole Miss – Hotty Toddy 

Actor: Johnny Depp      Actress:  Jennifer Anniston 

Television Program:  “Chopped” 

Wardrobe Accessory:  Shoes of all types 

Thing to do on a weekend:  On the weekends, I enjoy being with friends and going to the movies. 

Way to spend a day off:  I love volunteering with my special-needs friends.  Their joy is so infectious it makes my day incredibly brighter. 

What is your hometown like?  Clinton is a beautiful, quaint town filled with history that missed becoming the capitol of our state by one vote of the state legislature in 1830.  The town is made up of a diverse, friendly group of people who work hard and understand the importance of family and education. 

What were you like when you were a child?  I am told that I was a happy, funny and adaptable child.  I am the youngest of three girls and spent most of my early childhood in the car with my mother driving my sisters to various activities, which taught me to be easy-going, flexible and to use my imagination. 

Who is the most influential person in your life?  The most influential person (people) in my life would have to be my Papa and my Big Daddy.  I was blessed to live in the same town as my grandfathers until their deaths, and they both taught me many valuable life lessons. 

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I think that most people may not know how competitive I am.  I come across as very easy-going and laid-back, but underneath is a competitive drive that I got honestly from everyone in my family. 

Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title: My defining moment actually happened in January of this year when I was diagnosed with dyslexia.  Having successfully gone through elementary school and high school with an undiagnosed disability has given me great pride in my ability to adapt and succeed at anything that is put before me no matter how impossible it seems and reaffirms my desire to work with special-needs youth as my career. 

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program? There are so many things I have learned about myself from my participation in the Miss America Program:  physical fitness, communicating my thoughts and ideas and showing confidence when I feel a little uneasy.  But, by far the best thing I have gained is a confirmation of my career path and my life’s work. 

If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service? I cannot wait to begin my year serving the people of the great state of Mississippi.  It will be such a privilege helping in any capacity needed at Blair E Batson Children’s Hospital.  I will also look forward to the opportunity to spread the message surrounding my platform, ,”Life After 21,” throughout our great state and beyond, encouraging others to give special-needs adults the opportunity to be involved in their communities, including holding jobs. 

What is your secret wish or dream?  My secret dream is to travel to places I have never seen, such as Paris, France and to be a Zombie extra on the TV series “The Walking Dead.” 

I’m motivated by:  Personal motivation is the key to success in whatever we want to achieve in life, but it is the hardest concept to explain.  I would say I am motivated by seeing a need that I can resolve or help do something about. 

Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform? Through my volunteer work with special-needs students in my school district, I met a girls named Ashley, who has special needs.  I realized that when Ashley turned 21 and could no longer attend public schools she would not have the opportunities that I have to go to college and work toward a career.  That is when I worked with my mentors in the field of special education to develop my platform “Life After 21.”  I am so proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I know this platform will continue to grow and positively affect many. 

What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime? The most significant event in my life will happen in November of 2016.  It has been interesting following and learning about all of the presidential candidates.  The election of the next president will be extremely important to the future of our country. 

The one thing I can’t live without: I cannot imagine my life without my animals and the love they give.  My family has always had a lot of animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, pigs and chickens. 

My best friend would describe me as:  When I asked my friend this question, she described me as loyal, dependable, happy and enthusiastic.  I have been blessed with wonderful, supportive and loving friends. 

Something interesting about my family:  My family was featured on the TV show “Say Yes to the Dress” when my middle sister was married.  The show sent cameras and a producer to Jackson to film the wedding.  It was a little stressful, but a fun memorable experience. 

Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me:  Earlier this year I had surgery on my ankle.  I was required to walk around campus with one leg on a scooter.  One day while it was raining, I was traveling a little too fast and carrying too much in my book bag and lost my balance.  Students were nice and came to my aid, but I must have been a sight sprawled out in the Grove. 

One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me:  I would like to try parasailing behind a speedboat on a beautiful sunny day in Destin, Florida.  No one would believe I would do that because I am not generally a physical risk-taker and am somewhat afraid of heights. 

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names:  My family has many pets.  We have 3 dogs (Eli, Teddy and Cooper), 3 cats (Cecily, Simba and Nala), 2 goats (Porter and Dolly), 2 pigs (George and Wynonna), and a number of unnamed chickens.