Hometown: Brandon, MS
Platform: Operation SOS: Save Our Servicemen
Talent: Singing/ Blue Skies- Etta James
What college did you attend, or are currently attending? The University of Mississippi
What is your major? Broadcast Journalism/ physical therapy track
What is your scholastic ambition? I am pursuing a bachelor of Arts in Journalism while completing the physical therapy track prerequisites at the University of Mississippi. I love reading, writing, and journalism as a while, but it never hurts to have a backup plan.
List scholastic honors: Freedom Alliance Scholarship recipient, Northwest Rankin Hall of Fame, Ole Miss Academic Scholar Recipient
Greatest non-academic accomplishment: I received the Youth Leadership Jackson award and was chosen to participate in a program geared toward helping develop a greater love and appreciation for Jackson, MS.
What is your favorite style of music? My favorite style of music is R&B, It’s so relaxing and has a beautiful way of forcing you to relate your life to the lyrics.
What is your favorite movie genre and why? I love comedy; as cliché as it sounds, laughter will always be the best medicine for the soul.
What is your favorite gadget? My iPad = Grey’s Anatomy on the go!
What is your favorite blog? Uncopiedlife.blogspot.com is full of motivations for life. The posts are constant reminders of how success and perfection won’t always happen the first try, but the fact that we try at all is what matters. After Kim’s car accident, she made it her responsibility to remind us all that we need to be happy we’re alive and embrace living life to discover who we really are.
What is your favorite place to visit? St. James Montego Bay is my favorite. We ventured here on a trip to see my grandparents in Jamaica and the views were unforgettable. The calm is a reminder to slow down and try to beauty in the simple day to day views.
What is your favorite food? Anything on pasta covered in alfredo sauce makes my tastebuds happy.
If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you? The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is my favorite. Growing up in the south, I always struggled with skin color and why it mattered. In this book, Morrison defies the color bounds and reminds us that the bluest eye isn’t always the greatest spectacle.
Do you twitter? Even though scrolling through twitter does give me a good laugh, I don’t post much unless it’s my journalism articles that I want to circulate, but feel free to follow me @see_joy_smile .
What is your favorite?
Sport: Basketball Sports Team: Chicago Bulls
Actor: Idris Elba Actress: Lisa Bonet
Television Program: The Cosby Show
Wardrobe Accessory: A nice watch
Thing to do on a weekend: Trips out of town for shopping are my favorite. Tasting new food, seeing new sights and meeting new people, what could be better?
Way to spend a day off: Binge watching my favorite series, One Tree Hill, with coffee and my closest friends makes the perfect days off.
What is your hometown like? Brandon, MS is a vastly expanding city. When we moved here there were four major roads, about six stoplights and a Walgreens. My town is now home to the expanding Dogwood Festival mall and one of the highest ranking 6A sports programs in the state. I remember being thankful to finally have a Walmart a sixteen years later, the growth is mind-blowing.
What were you like when you were a child? I was talkative and inquisitive and could hold a full conversation by 14 months. I’ve heard so many stories about myself shocking adults by being able to read, dress myself, and hold adult conversations so young. I think I was mostly known for memorizing an entire book called “Buscuit Goes to School” a week after I started Pre-K at 4 years old.
Who is the most influential person in your life? My mother is the most influential person in my life because she bounced back so quickly from the cards life dealt her with my father’s war injuries, including his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She raised me as a single mother while completing her doctoral degree and opening a business simultaneously; Dr. Addison-Ross is my hero.
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I am very easy-going. I stay quite organized but I love a good night of laughter with my friends. I think people always see the girl that is “about her business” but my closest of friends know that I love a good break from seriousness.
Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title: Receiving my Freedom Alliance scholarship gave me a sense of notability. I felt that my hard work in high school was finally rewarded in a way that helped me to give my parents relief. Also, for once, my father’s war injuries were not only being recognized, but also compensated. I was awarded this scholarship because I am a dependent of a soldier with an invisible injury, PTSD.
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program? Individuality and confidence are the most important tools a girl can carry with her. It is so easy in everyday life for females to feel the need to compare themselves to the next person but this program has taught me that our talents, style, and personal accomplishments distinguish us and give us a reason not to feel the need to fit in, but to stand out as much as possible. The end goal of competition is to show why our particular individuality makes us special. This, in itself, brings such confidence.
If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service? My greatest accomplishment as Miss Mississippi would be making strides in the world of veteran services. I feel that this is an area that is overlooked and from personal experience, the transition for servicemen into civilian life is most difficult. Easing this difficulty for many dependents would be one of my proudest accomplishments.
What is your secret wish or dream? I have always secretly wanted to be a celebrity reporter on E! News.
I’m motivated by: I have always been a firm believer than failure and rejection are the best motivational factors. It is important to remember that failure isn’t fatal, and the only real loss is not learning from times when success wasn’t obtained.
Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform? Operation SOS: Save Our Servicemen is inspired by my father. He fought in 3 combat terms and finally returned home 90% disabled in 2007. I was always puzzled by this as a child because I saw no physical disabilities. I later learned that my dad was “shell shocked” and had developed severe Post-traumatic stress disorder due to the events he witnessed during war. This caused many problems as I have grown through life, including a divorce, being raised in a single parent home, and separation from my father as he endured therapy and mental rehabilitation to a condition that has not seen much improvement. As I reflect the severity of our situation, I understand that the most important but most absent factor was support and education about PTSD, one of the most common war injuries to date.
What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime? My father’s injury has been the most significant event in my lifetime. This changed my view on life drastically. I was always so hopeful for exactly what I wanted, the way that I wanted it. However, my father’s war wounds taught me that life doesn’t always give us the most beautiful circumstances, but we have to see the beauty in exactly what we are given.
The one thing I can’t live without: My bible. Any time I need an answer, it’s there.
My best friend would describe me as: I think I would be described as the responsible friend who always has advice about taking life as it comes. Also the friend who tells you the truth about situations no matter what and will always remind you just to breathe.
Something interesting about my family: I am the middle of five siblings and definitely fit the different, “middle child” bill. My oldest brother plays professional basketball, my second oldest brother is preparing to draft for football and my youngest brother and sister are star athletes in their divisions. My father is a high school basketball coach. In the midst of all of this athleticism, I find my heart in the pageant world.
Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me: On my second day of college I stumbled into a lecture hall, late for class. I knew that my parents cared about attendance so I tried to scan into the class and the scanner let out a loud “beep” of rejection. The entire class laughed because only a freshman would’ve tried to scan into a class after the grace period of five minutes. As I was walking to find a seat, I tripped going up the stairs and as the class laughed again, I just slid into the seat nearest to me only to find that a huge, very attractive football player was sitting next to me and had witnessed everything. He laughed then whispered to me “don’t talk to me. They’re gonna think I know you and laugh at me too.” I rolled my eyes and moved across the room, tripping over a chair on my way. Four months later, he became my boyfriend.
One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me: Deep-sea scuba diving. I am very organized and run my life from my planner. Needless to say, I am always in control I have heard that with deep sea diving, once below a certain point of sea level, you aren’t even in control of the simplest things such as your breathing. This would be an interesting experience for me. For once, I would be forced to not be in control and just “let go.”
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names: I have one miniature dachshund named Sunny that knows all of my secrets. He’s seen the undisclosed tears and the smiles for 12 long years and always assures it’s a smile in the end.