Dana WesleyMiss Pontotoc Ridge
Hometown: West Point, Mississippi
Platform: Cultural Appreciation through Language and Awareness
Talent: Singing “Summertime” by George Gershwin
What college did you attend, or are currently attending? University of Mississippi (UM)
What is your major? Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)
What is your scholastic ambition? I aspire to become a Modern Languages professor in the United States and abroad.
List scholastic honors: Chancellor’s list, Dean’s List, Golden Key Scholar, National Collegiate Scholar, Outstanding Student in Korean language and culture, Luckyday Scholar, and Cum Laude graduate.
Greatest non-academic accomplishment: Speaking to over 1500 students in the past years on the importance of cultural diversity through positive behavior speaking engagements and community service events.
What is your favorite style of music? Korean Pop (K-Pop)
What is your favorite movie genre and why? I enjoy inspirational family movies
What is your favorite gadget? My smart phone keeps me organized, informed and entertained. It is also my life line to family when we are on opposite sides of the globe.
What is your favorite blog? Huffington Post
What is your favorite place to visit? Yeouido, Korea
What is your favorite food? Snow Crab Legs
If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you? The Bible, to keep my faith strong. I would want to continue to see possibilities in situations that seem impossible
Do you twitter? Yes, DanaWasHere100
What is your favorite?
Sport: Softball _
Sports Team: Dallas Cowboys
Actor: Cole Sprouse
Actress: Queen Latifah
Television Program: The Amazing Race
Wardrobe Accessory: High heels
Thing to do on a weekend: Teach Chinese students English online
Way to spend a day off: Dinner and a movie with family and friends
What is your hometown like? My hometown is a steadily growing community filled with historical landmarks such as Old Waverly Golf Course that hosted the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship; the annual Prairie Arts Festival attended by 30,000 people each year, and the famous Waverly Mansion that many people still tour each day.
What were you like when you were a child? During my childhood, I was very athletic. I played softball, basketball, soccer, and took ballet classes. My favorite activity was to go fishing with my dad. As a child I believed I could conquer the world and today I still feel the same way.
Who is the most influential person in your life? My cousin Christie Grays inspires me daily. She is a National Association of Health Care Executive, but she also models, was on the cover of MIA magazine, and received the 2016 Distinguished Achiever Award from the International Career and Business Alliance.
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I teach children in West Point, MS and China.
Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title: Gaining acceptance into the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, one of the top 10 high schools in the nation, was a major turning point for me. It was then that I not only gained more confidence in my academic ability, but I also learned to not allow what others say define who I am as an individual.
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program? Participating in the Miss America Program has taught me not to compare myself to others. Every day, I strive to be a better version of myself than I was the day before, and it is through this program that I have grown into a woman who is strong, accomplished, and capable of achieving anything.
If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service? As Miss Mississippi, I would make it my mission to encourage school districts to invest more time and resources into courses that involve foreign languages and foreign cultures. If we teach our youth from a young age to be more accepting of others with differing beliefs, ideas, and opinions, we can foster an America that is more loving and united. I will also fervently inform people about the importance of CMNH and why they should donate to such an admirable cause.
What is your secret wish or dream? I have passion for singing and performing on stage. It would be a dream come true if I could inspire others to come out of complacency and boldly follow their vision.
I’m motivated by: I’m motivated by my will and sheer determination to become Miss America. As Miss America I can be a tremendous influence and bring about positive change nationwide or possibly on a global scale. I desire to bring people together through cultural education and community service.
Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform?
My love for learning languages and studying about other cultures inspired me to develop this platform. Through my studies in Spain and Korea, it was imperative to immerse myself in these foreign environments to adequately learn these languages and cultures. I have learned that differences can be overcome with an openness to see a person as an individual and not a collective stereotype.
What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime?
Without a doubt, the most significant event in my lifetime was when I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Seoul, South Korea as a student at Korea University. It is there that I really developed a sense of who I am as a person. Being in a different environment allowed me to learn to be more dependent on God as my Lord and Savior. I was finally able to break out of my shell and apply my Korean language skills in real life situations.
The one thing I can’t live without: Faith
My best friend would describe me as: Comical, ambitious and optimistic
Something interesting about my family: My family loves anything Marvel comic-related. Whenever a new Marvel movie hits the theatres, we always make it a thing to go. It’s become a family ritual.
Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me: Traveling to South Korea without first learning how to use chopsticks was one of the most difficult and fun weeks of my life.
One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me: Ice skiing even though I am not a fan of cold weather!
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names: I do not have any pets; however, I have always dreamed of owning a pug. I adore how they are so homely yet cute. It’s fascinating!!!