Rachel Shumaker

Miss Mid-South’s Outstanding Teen

Hometown:                 Pontotoc, MS

Hobbies:                      Running, playing tennis, traveling, dancing, playing guitar, attending college football and baseball games

School:                        Ingomar High School

Scholastic Ambition:   To earn Bachelor of Animal Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Mississippi State University

Scholastic Honors:      Special honor roll-11 years; Beta Club; Anchor Club; Science Club; Two-time Pontotoc County Spelling Bee Champion; 7th place in Mid-South Spelling Bee; Perfect score on Mississippi Algebra 1 state test; MHSAA Scholar Athlete

Talent:                         Piano performance

Platform:                     Ahead of the Curve- Scoliosis

What makes you special and unique?  I have the strength of titanium—metaphorically and literally. It is hard to wear me down mentally when I am determined, and I actually have two 10-inch titanium rods and 18 screws in my spine.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize?  I once had a pet chicken named after our Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell.

Best advice you have ever received?  I was once told to make my life an adventure. I believe if life is to be an adventure, it is up to us to make it so for ourselves.

What can’t you live without?  My miniature schnauzer, Millie

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?  Coffee

What is your favorite movie genre and why?  I love horror films because they keep my interest, as opposed to romance or drama movies where I typically get bored easily.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?  In ten years I hope to be starting my job as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in a small animal clinic.

Most valuable lesson learned?  I have learned that with determination, I can overcome anything. I powered through the challenges of scoliosis and am able to use that experience to help others dealing with scoliosis.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why?  Miss Mississippi 2014, Jasmine Murray, is my most valued role model. She overcame difficult circumstances and used her title to touch the lives of others, and she is a genuine, kindhearted, successful young woman who sets a great example for younger generations.

What motivates you?  My past failures and experiences motivate me to work hard every day and to always seek improvement for myself.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? Three months after I had surgery for scoliosis, I ran a full track season. I will always look back on that as an impossible thing that I accomplished.

Best compliment you have ever received?  Someone once told me I was going to be very successful one day. That compliment stuck with me because I always strive for success.

Secret wish or dream?  To own a boutique or formal wear store

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?  On a snow skiing trip six years ago, my friend and I skied onto an unmarked trail through the woods. I skied into a tree and lost both skis, and my friend crashed into a rock and lost both of her skis. We couldn’t get up from the snow because we were laughing so hard and couldn’t wait to tell our families the story.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you?  I would like to someday go skydiving even though I was very afraid of heights as a child.

What is your super power?  I have an incredible memory. Often when I am taking tests I can envision the answer as I first saw it.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program?  I have learned about the four points of the Miss America crown: service, success, style, and scholarship. It takes all four of these points together with a strong work ethic and determination to become a well-rounded contestant.

Describe yourself in one word. Vivacious

A Fun Family Fact?  Because my mom is an alumna of Ole Miss and my dad and brothers graduated from Mississippi State, I was raised as a fan of both schools. Growing up, I always felt pulled by both sides of the family to attend their school’s games. Now, I enjoy attending games at both schools.

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

I have always believed in the power of words, which is why I am so fond of quotes. Although I couldn’t choose a favorite, one quote I love is this: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” by Mary Oliver. I try to view every day through eyes of wonder and adventure. I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn more about the world by traveling to exciting destinations including Paris, Cozumel, New York City, San Diego, and many more.

I also believe variety is the spice of life. My music playlists include everything from classic country to pop, Broadway show tunes to 80s hits. I have been playing piano and dancing for twelve years of my life, and playing guitar for almost two. I love expressing myself through these art forms because they are my outlet when life gets chaotic. I enjoy working part-time as a photographer’s assistant, helping create memories that last a lifetime. From a young age, I have loved caring for my many pets and plan to turn my passion for pets into my life’s work by becoming a small animal veterinarian. I actively participate in clubs within my school, including Beta Club, Science Club, Anchor Club, and SADD, and I was elected as a member of a youth-led philanthropy, Northeast Mississippi Youth Foundation.

My natural curiosity keeps life exciting and fresh. Being open minded to new possibilities helps me experience more of all the marvelous things life has to offer.

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

My platform is “Ahead of the Curve- Scoliosis” and it is important to me because I have experienced this curvature of the spine myself. I hope to provide support to others diagnosed with scoliosis and dealing with the effects of it. As an advocate for scoliosis awareness, I want to encourage school screenings to provide early detection, which can be critical to preventing drastic forms of treatment, like spinal fusion surgery, which I had in 2012. Teens and adolescents with scoliosis are often looking for answers about topics like back braces and surgery. My goal is to help provide those answers by sharing my own story and pointing them to the resources available.

Because scoliosis affects girls eight times more often than boys, my platform is aimed primarily towards girls. Through my role as the founder and leader of the Mississippi chapter of a scoliosis support group, Curvy Girls, I want other “curvy girls” to know they can still be beautiful wearing a brace, living with their curve, or rocking a surgery scar.