GraceAnne Lee Kennedy

Miss All-America City’s Outstanding Teen

Hometown:    Hatley, MS

Hobbies:        Spending time with family and friends, playing with my dachshund, LynnLeeGrace, volunteering at local nursing home and hospital, painting, bushhogging Pa’s pastures, cheerleading

School:           Hatley High School

Scholastic Ambition: Registered Nurse

Scholastic Honors: Honor Club, Honor Roll, Beta Club, HOSA

Talent:            Speed Painting

Platform:        Painting for Purpose

What makes you special and unique? My eyes make me special and unique.  People tell me all the time that I can’t hide my feelings because my eyes show my emotions and give me away.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? Although I love pageants and everything sparkly, I also love living in the country, being around cows, and going to stockyard sales.

Best advice you have ever received? The best advice I’ve ever received is treat everyone with kindness because you don’t know what they are going through.

What can’t you live without?  I can’t live without God’s forgiveness for when I have failed Him, and His guidance to become a better Christian.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? My guilty pleasure is eating as much of my Mammy’s homemade ranch on everything possible.

What is your favorite movie genre and why? Westerns are my favorite movie genre because I enjoy watching them with my family. I also like movies with happy endings.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?  I see myself spending my life helping new mothers in labor and delivery, continuing to be a part of Painting for Purpose, and hopefully getting married and having a family of my own.

Most valuable lesson learned? The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that I am worthy and have a purpose in my life.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? My brother, Rob, is my most valued role model. He is my protector, supporter, and encourager. He believes in me, and we love each other unconditionally.

What motivates you? People who tell me I won’t be successful only motivate me to persevere and strive to be victorious.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? My greatest non-academic accomplishment is being a positive role model for younger girls, especially my little cousins.

Best compliment you have ever received?  The best compliment I’ve ever received would be when someone told me I’m beautiful on the inside because what’s inside is what matters.

Secret wish or dream? My secret wish is to be able to go to the beach at least once every couple of years. I’ve only been twice in my life, and I love the beach.

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? My family likes to play spoons.  The second time my brother brought Caitlin, his girlfriend, over, we were playing a game of spoons.  Rob, Caitlin, and I grabbed the spoons. My momma was left out, and I jerked the spoon out of Caitlin’s hands and handed it to my momma. I don’t even know why I did it, but the look on Caitlin’s face was priceless. Needless to say, she didn’t want to play spoons anymore, and I was very embarrassed.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? My brother insists that I have a bland palate.  He always wants me to try new dishes, but I usually stick with chicken, fries, and ranch.  So, I would like to expand my food horizons.

What is your super power? My super power would have to be the ability to sense when others aren’t telling the truth or have been doing things they shouldn’t.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program? One important thing I’ve learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program is perseverance. In order to be successful in life, you will face failures. Failures are only a stepping stone to success. You cannot allow these failures to make you give up; you have to persevere.

Describe yourself in one word. Resilient

A Fun Family Fact?  My Pa can do anything. He has many talents, but I am most impressed by his ability to write songs and train horses. He also helped build the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri which I found to be incredible!

Please write a short essay describing yourself to the people viewing the website. Let people know who you really are.

Hello! My name is GraceAnne Lee Kennedy.  I am from the small town of Hatley and our population is just under 500. We have one igloo store/gas station and one flashing 4 way stop.I live with my momma in the country, and I mean country because we can’t even get internet service at my house. I have an older brother, Rob, who attends Mississippi State University. He is the best big brother any girl could ever ask for.

Since I do live in the country, I’m a country girl at heart. I enjoy being around cows and going to the stockyard sales, and helping my Pa work in his barn and bush hog his pastures. Spending time with my grandparents is something I value in my life.  My momma and I visit with them each night; My Mammy is the best cook in Mississippi, possibly in the United States and I enjoy watching her whip up her magic in the kitchen. One of my favorite dishes is her cherry cobbler. She has even taught me how to roll out the dough and braid it for the crust.

I have been a varsity cheerleader at Hatley Attendance Center for 6 years. Cheering has taught me a number of life lessons, such as teamwork, leadership, commitment and perseverance.  If we don’t work as a team, we will never succeed. We have to be committed in order to practice the long hours that we do in order to succeed.  We have to persevere when our stunts don’t hit the first time. We can’t give up and have to push ourselves harder to improve and master our skills. In order to become a good leader, you have to first be a good follower.  I was fortunate to receive two leadership pins while attending cheer camp last summer and selected as Best All Around cheerleader this past cheer season.

I enjoy volunteering at both my local hospital and nursing home.  I was fortunate to witness an emergency caesarean while attending clinical at the hospital.  Visiting the elderly is always one of my favorites. The Alzheimer’s unit is my very favorite unit to visit. The patients are just precious. From painting their nails, drawing, and painting, to laughing and watching their faces light up when I visit; I will always cherish the times I get to spend with them. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be someone who makes everyone feel like a someone.”  I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they are a nobody.  Encourage others and lift others up.

Please write a short essay explaining your passion for your platform and your stance on the subject.

I struggle with low self-esteem every day. My father is not present in my life. People at school knew about my mother’s and my struggles, and they have been mean.  Although my mom and I face tough times, she always provides me with my needs. As a school teacher, she has influenced me in many positive ways. My grandfather, Pa, and my brother, Rob, are amazing father figures to me. They are such strong role models.  It has taken me a long time to build my self-esteem, but I am realizing that through these self-doubts, I can help others. Through my paintings and drawings, I have “connected inward”.  “New York-based Creative Arts Therapist Mallory Dension says art can be therapeutic in helping people to become more compassionate with themselves and ultimately with others.” (www.thefrisky.com/2014-09-17/6-art-exercises-to-help-boost-self-esteem-from-a-professional-art-therapist)

So my platform is Painting for Purpose.   Think back to when you used to color. Some of you may still enjoy the art. What about finger painting? Painting is expression! Children and teenagers need that freedom of expression. When allowing yourself to paint your dreams and happy thoughts, low self-esteem leaves your mind, which in turn, allows your thoughts to be open and free to believe in the future. I want children to have these opportunities to paint and discover their purpose in life. I want happiness and confidence to be felt through this process. After they create their masterpieces, I want them to explain their dreams and paintings. This helps them vocalize strong energy they are experiencing. I have created small magnets to give to the children at each session, so they can display their paintings on the refrigerator at home.

Painting for Purpose is an encouraging program for children and teens to recognize their purpose. It can help organize their happy thoughts. It’s a simple concept that can reap numerous rewards.  Furthermore, I have organized a “Paint and Brush drive” at my school, where we have asked supporters to donate brushes, paper, and paints for my community. Our art program is no longer funded at our school. This inspires me to continue to be an advocate for the arts.  I want to heal the hurt. My father hurt me, my mother and my family, but I have found my feelings are normal. My ability to help others with similar struggles is how I am defeating my low self-esteem and creating purpose for my life. I encourage everyone to pick up a brush, or even better, buy a coloring book, brush or paints for someone else. Help them find their purpose. Even encourage them to color outside the lines.