Grace McAllister

Belle of the Bayou’s Outstanding Teen

Hometown: Nettleton, MS

Hobbies: dancing, crocheting, reading

School: Nettleton Middle School

Scholastic Ambition: To attend The University of Mississippi and receive a degree in child psychology and to obtain a degree in dance

Scholastic Honors: Honor roll, Junior Beta Club Member, top percentile in class

Talent: Acro-Lyrical Dance

Platform: Breaking the Silence; Giving a Voice to Victims of Sexual Abuse

What makes you special and unique? What makes me special and unique is my ability to use things I’ve been through to help others. I believe that by being over comers, we create over comers.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I struggle with organization! I can literally lose something in a time span of about 10 seconds! I have to make a conscious effort to reorganize all of my clothing, makeup, shoes, etc every week or I won’t be able to find anything.

Best advice you have ever received? Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with it. As a survivor of sexual abuse, this is the advice that helped me realize that abuse didn’t have to be what defines me. I don’t have to become a statistic. I think the power that this advice gave me is what really started pushing me to show other victims that they are not alone and that they can speak out and not let sexual abuse silence them.

What can’t you live without? I cannot live without my cell phone. I know, it’s so cliché and predictable. But my cell phone is how I communicate with friends and family, it’s where I download and read books, it’s where I update my calendar. I even use my cellphone to help promote my platform by using social media. I think that my cellphone acts almost as my organizer.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Snapchat!!! I can play with those filters for HOURS! I also love to send silly pictures to my friends and family.  Like any other guilty pleasure, moderation is key.

What is your favorite movie genre and why? My favorite movie genre is comedy! I fully believe in the power of laugher and there have been many times that a funny movie has been just the pick-me-up I needed!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Hopefully dancing! Dance is my passion and I truly hope that in 10 years I am able to be performing or teaching dance professionally.

Most valuable lesson learned? That your situations do not define you! Your future, and even your present, belongs to you!

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? Lady Gaga. Her work to shed light on sexual abuse is incredible! She has used her fame to speak out and give others the courage to speak out and empowering others is exactly what I look for in a role model.

What motivates you? The girls and boys who need to hear my story. The ones who are going through abuse and are too afraid to speak out. The ones who feel all alone in the world. The ones who feel like they are a statistic and that their entire life is defined by abuse. Showing them they aren’t alone. Showing them they aren’t what happened to them. Helping them to speak out! That’s what motivates me.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? I was awarded the 2017 Governor’sYouth in Action GIVE Award for my work with my platform, Breaking the Silence; Giving a Voice to Victims of Sexual Abuse. It was a huge honor just to be nominated so when I received a call telling me I had been chosen for the award, I was over the moon! I am so happy that abuse is no longer being swept under the rug and that so many people are tirelessly working to educate on the signs of abuse and prevent future abuse!

Best compliment you have ever received? The best compliment I have ever received was “You make my laugh.” Having the ability to make someone laugh is having the ability to make their day a little brighter!

Secret wish or dream? I secretly wish I could be a Disney princess! I would LOVE to work in the theme parks as my personal favorite, Belle. I have had the privilege of visiting children’s hospitals as Belle and the looks on the childrens’ faces when they see a “real” princess is absolutely priceless! I would love to spread that kind of joy and happiness daily!

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? The most embarrassing thing that has happened to me has to be the time I fell over while shopping. I was just getting use to walking in heels when all of the sudden I lost my balance and fell to the ground pulling a whole clothing rack down with me. I was mortified.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? Sky diving. I am terrified of heights but I would like to eventually try it just to overcome my fear.

What is your super power? I have the super power of making everyone feel comfortable and accepted! I love this super power because it often times means people come to me for advice or just to have someone to talk to! I feel that this super power helps give me the ability to encourage and empower others!

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss MississippiProgram? I have a voice!The Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen program, has shown me that my age does not stop me from having the ability to make a difference. Through work with my platform, the Children’s Miracle Network, and other community service projects I have found the fire within myself to not just live life, but to live life with purpose!

Describe yourself in one word. Overcomer

A Fun Family Fact? I have over 20 first cousins

Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) describing yourself to the people viewing the website. Let people know who you really are. Keep in mind the questions you’ve already been asked and include other things that you would like people to know about you.

My name is Grace McAllister and I am a 14 year old from Nettleton, MS. I am in the 8th grade and am very active within my school. I am part of the Junior Beta Club, the event coordinator for Junior Civitan, and a member of my school choir! I am also a competitive dancer at Art in Motion Competitive Dance. I enjoy spending time with my friends and binge watching Netflix.

Outside of school and dance I am a spokes person for the Tupelo Family Resource Center and United Way which means I get the privilege of speaking and sharing about my platform,Breaking the Silence. My platform is my biggest passion because I myself am a survivor and overcomer of sexual abuse. My goal in life is to work to give a voice to those who feel silenced by abuse.

Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) explaining your passion for your platform and your stance on the subject. Be sure to name your platform and give a brief explanation of its purpose as well.

I feel as a nation; we still have an issue confronting some difficult topics. This may be due to the fact that they make us uncomfortable or that these issues are so devastating we like to pretend they don’t exist. Sexual abuse is one of those issues. Despite efforts to encourage victims to come forward and seek justice against their abusers, about 84 percent of sexual abuse victims never come forward. That means that about 84 percent of abusers remain in society. So the question is, why do victims keep their abuse to themselves? Maybe it’s because in 97% cases, abusers receive no punishment from the justice system. Or, maybe it’s because many victims are dismissed as lying about their abuse despite the fact that only 2 to 4 percent of all sexual abuse cases are proven false. Or maybe it is because children are not given the tools and education to know what kind of touches are ok and what kind are not and who they can talk to and tell if they experience an inappropriate situation. 

As a victim of sexual abuse, I understand how hard it is to come forward. I was sexually abused by my own father from the time I was 3 years old until the age of 9. That’s 6 years (that I can remember) of living with sexual abuse and living with my abuser. I didn’t tell because I didn’t think anyone would believe me and because I had no idea that what was happening to me wasn’t normal. I had always experienced this violation and abuse so I thought it was just a part of life. Thankfully, I was able to escape and overcome my situation. However, many victims aren’t as lucky as I was. Abuse continues for many victims on into adulthood and then, sexual abuse victims are 3 times as likely to suffer from depression. They are also 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times as likely to abuse drugs.

I hope to partner with MAOT to give a voice to every single child who is suffering and has suffered from sexual abuse. I want these children to see that they can come forward, that they can overcome, that they are not alone and do not have to suffer alone. I want my title to give me the opportunity to finally break the silence.