Kaylee Brooke McCollum

Local Title: Miss Monroe County’s Outstanding Teen

Hometown: Amory, MS

Hobbies: Cheerleading, tumbling, singing, volleyball

School: Amory High School

Scholastic Ambition: Obtain a four year degree in Nursing, followed by a Master’s in Nursing

Scholastic Honors: None listed

Talent: Singing

Platform: Take A Bite Out of Hunger

What makes you special and unique? My love for children makes me special and unique.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? Once a person meets me, they realize that kindness is the one trait that I possess that is not visual with the eyes.

Best advice you have ever received? The best advice given to me is to “look for the positive aspects in any situations to make conquering those rough situations easier”.

What can’t you live without? I cannot live without the love from my parents and friends.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? My biggest guilty pleasure is a hot fudge cake.  I exercise daily and try to eat healthy, but sometimes I am tempted by the smell of a good ole hot fudge cake at my favorite hometown restaurant The Friendship House.

What is your favorite movie genre and why? My favorite movie genre is love stories.  I like a good love story because it is a reflection of what I expect my own love story to be.  I love the “happily ever after” kind of movies.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years I plan to be a pediatric nurse practitioner.  My love for children has caused an intense desire within to seek a profession which allows me to take care of them.

Most valuable lesson learned? The most valuable lesson that I have learned thus far in life is to think before you speak.  Words can be hurtful.   You cannot rewind and erase things that have been said out of your mouth.  It is important to think about what you are about to say before you say it.  You should be mindful and not hurt anyone with your own words.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? The most valued role model in my life is my sister, Madison McCollum.  My sister Madison was nominated for the homecoming court her senior year in high school (2015).  At our school it is a tradition to ask someone from your class to escort you during the presentation of the court.  My sister talked with us and told us that she had one desire a senior and that was to give someone the opportunity to experience the happiness with her, someone who wouldn’t ordinarily get that kind of experience.  Madison reached out to a special needs child to be her escort.  This young man was autistic.  My sister saw past his disability and looked into his heart.  She wanted to give him a moment of happiness that he may not have gotten otherwise.  The day of homecoming, as they walked into the gym and their names were announced the room lit up, eyes began to fill with tears, the crowd began to cheer uncontrollably and time stood still for a moment.  This young man later told my mom, “Madison gave me something I won’t forget ever”.  My sister’s loving heart is what makes her special and a good role model for myself and for the kids of our generation.

What motivates you? I love to help others, whether it be a shoulder for someone to cry on or to be the person who goes out on a limb to get someone to show their support for their community through a simple donation.  The outcomes in the end are what give me the motivation to be who I am.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? In 2015 I held my first food drive for my community.  I had no goal for this event but in the end I collected 2373 pounds of food over one month’s time (1873 pounds was collected on Saturday at the actual drive and the remaining was collected at different locations in our town within the month).  I have been told that this was the biggest food drive anyone had done in our town at one given moment in time.  I enlisted the help of many groups and organizations to help with the food gathering and together we collected a total of 5318 pounds of food along with $1,100.00 in monetary donations that will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network.  In November 2016, the Woodmen of the World presented me the “Caring for Others” award for my work with my Take A Bite Out of Hunger campaign.

Best compliment you have ever received? “You are doing great things for the hungry” is a compliment that I cherish.  Being kind and humble is important at such a time in our lives when the world is filled with so much hate.

Secret wish or dream? As with any young girl, modeling is my dream.  I would love to become a model and a role model to all the young children of this world.

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?  I came to school one day dressed like I was headed to a fashion show.  I wore my skinny jeans, my wedged heels, my hair was perfect as well as my make-up which is unusual for me because I am an all-natural look kind of girl.  As I walked down the hallway to the gym, I slipped on something in the floor.  My legs began to shake and my 5’9 ½” body began to plummet to the floor.  Luckily, my best friend was in-front of me to cushion my body before it hit the floor.  My friend thought the school was having an evacuation and that I somehow didn’t see her and was running over her.  She began to scream.  Students began coming out of their classrooms to see what had happened only to find me lying in the floor.  Laughter filled that entire hallway.  I opened my eyes to find a swarm of people circling me.  Not one soul could help me up because they were laughing at my gracefulness.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? My one fear in lie is that I am afraid of high places.  But if I could do one thing out of character for me it would be bungee jumping.

What is your super power? My super power is the power of healing.  I have the power to heal emotional wounds.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program?  I witness the true heart of my community through the many donations to fight hunger from people who expected nothing in return for their gifts.  I feel that I showed people how we as a community can fight this battle we have with hunger.

Describe yourself in one word. Humble would be the word I would use to describe myself.

A Fun Family Fact? I am a resident of the small town of Amory, Mississippi.  The population there is a little over 7000.  It’s the birthplace of Sam Haskell, Mitch Moreland and the ever so popular last American Idol Trent Harmon.  This little town was once host for the “Stars Over Mississippi” concert produced by Entertainment for Education which helped to benefit the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation.  This foundation brought stars to my town to put on a production that would bring people from all over to help benefit the scholarship program.  Each star that was brought to Amory was paraded down our streets and now their hand prints are pressed into the sidewalk that lines our main street.  This same section of concrete holds the hand prints of our American Idol.  I’ve never really known someone who is “famous” so to speak, that is until Trent.  You see, Trent Harmon not only went to school with my oldest sister, but he and I actually share the same aunt.  The moment the confetti fell and the music began to play with the announcement of the last American Idol, my sister Madison got on the phone to tell all of her friends “my cousin just won American Idol”.  Of course, he isn’t really.  SO my mom texts his mother to tell her what Madison had done and she said “you tell Madison I said own it”, so from that moment on Trent Harmon became “my cousin”.

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

 My name is Kaylee Brooke McCollum.  Being one of four siblings is often a struggle especially when we are all females.  My parents Dana McCollum and Todd McCollum are very influential in my life.  They have taught me and my sisters that respect, kindness, honesty, compassion and generosity are values that will keep us from negativity in society.  I am a sophomore at Amory High School and an active member of the youth program at Cornerstone Family Fellowship Church in Amory.  In 2014 at the age of 14. I volunteered to be a youth counselor at our church’s children’s retreat.  It was at this retreat that I realized how important it is to listen to these children, show them kindness and compassion and be mentors to them.

At the age of 13. I began to volunteer at our local food pantry.  I witnesses firsthand what hunger was.  Many people lined the streets before the pantry opened to receive their weekly supply of food.  I had heard of hunger and people being desperate for food but I did not realize what hunger issues we were dealing with in our own county.  After volunteering at our food pantry, I realized that I am living in a state with the worst hunger issues and that there is a great need for assistance in my home county, Monroe County, Mississippi.

Right after the Thanksgiving in 2015, I planned and organized a food drive know to our community as DUMP HUNGER.  My goal was set at one ton.  A tree cutting service donated the use of the dump truck and I advertised my event on social media.  Parking space for the dump truck was provided by Piggly Wiggly in my town.  I also set up food boxes throughout my home town for people who weren’t able to attend my event.  My event was scheduled on December 12 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m.  Non-perishable items from my event were donated to our local food pantry.  On December 21, 2015 our final weight from items donated totaled 2373 pounds.  I had reached my one ton goal.  From my first food drive in November of 2015 till the last delivery of food to my local food pantry in May of 2016, I collected 5318 pounds of non-perishable food and toiletries items along with $1,100.00 monetary donations for the Children’s Miracle Network.  In November of 2016, I was invited to the Woodmen of the World banquet where I was asked to briefly speak about food deprivation.  At this meeting I received the Caring For Others Award for my efforts to fight the battle of hunger in Monroe County.

My favorite activities are watching Netflix, tumbling, cheering and exercising.  I love watching the Miss Mississippi and Miss America Pageant with my sisters.  I have dreams of becoming Miss Mississippi and using my platform to stop food deprivation in our state. To become Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen would be one of the highest honors as a teen to receive.  It will allow me the opportunity to make a difference in teens among our state, to show them the importance of giving their time to things they believe in such as hunger.

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

 In 2013, at the age of 13 years old, I began volunteering at the Amory Food Pantry to earn my community service hours for our high school graduation in 2018.  I chose the food pantry as my community service project simply because my mother knew the director.  My first visit to the food pantry was a bit overwhelming.  I witnessed firsthand the need for food in our community.  Families were unable to meet their basic human needs for food.  I just couldn’t imagine not being able to eat whatever you wanted to eat.  Volunteering was an eye opening experience for me.  I witnessed the hunger at its worst.  This began my journey to TAKE A BITE OUT OF HUNGER.

Imagine one night of no food.  Now imagine a child going without food.  If that doesn’t motivate a person to help with hunger in our state I don’t know what will.  As I loaded bags with groceries from our local food pantry, I thought about each individual that this food was going to feed though I never saw a face I thought about the person.  I couldn’t sleep at night from the worry about people going without food.  The thought of children with no food broke my heart.

TAKE A BITE OUT OF HUNGER became a platform that I feel very passionate about.  I planned and organized a food drive for our local food pantry.  A tree service company donated the use of a dump truck and I had permission to park it at a local grocery store.  I gave my event a name (DUMP HUNGER) and advertised it through social media.  Not only was it a way to remind people of the need for donations as they were shopping but the size of the truck gave them motivation to fill it to capacity.  I set my goal for one ton and upon completion of my event the total weight of all donations was 2373 pounds.  This first drive ignited something deep within me.  I enlisted the help of several organizations who all helped to orchestrate several events to raise either food or funds to be used toward my platform.  From our first food drive in November of 2015 till today, we have collected 5318 pounds of non-perishable food items along with toiletries and $1,100.00 in monetary donations to be used for items for the Batson Children Hospital in Jackson, MS.  I strive daily to bring awareness thru social media of the need for food for the food deprived individuals in my county.  We are in the process of setting up a “Blessing Box” in Smithville, Mississippi for individuals to place food inside the box or take out whatever food they need for their families.  Currently in our county, there are three boxes that have been set up by area churches.  My family and I will build and set one up in Smithville.

My goal is to conduct regular food collection campaigns and use my role as Miss Monroe County’s Outstanding Teen to influence people to contribute to my fighting hunger campaign.  I feel that the problem of hunger is bigger than I can repair, but with the proper education about food deprivation in our communities in Mississippi I feel that I can influence other people to be a passionate as I am about local hunger and its causes.