Hailey Pushis

Miss Natchez Trace

Hometown:  Columbus

Hobbies: Dance, swimming, school dance team, playing with my two Labradors, conducting science experiments at home with my brother, making slime

School:  Heritage Academy

Scholastic Ambition: Pediatric Neurologist

Scholastic Honors: Member of MAIS Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, Junior Beta Honor Society; high honor roll, overall winner of school science fair, middle school science award

Talent: Acro Lyrical

Platform: “Keep Calm and Be Visible:  Raising Chronic Migraine Awareness”

What makes you special and unique?

I am a real girl.  One moment I could be dressed up, the next I could be rescuing frogs or geckos from our inground pool.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize?

I have a great sense of humor!  People tell me all the time how funny I am.

Best advice you have ever received?

Always wear your invisible crown.

What can’t you live without?

My iPod! I love to listen to my music when I want to just relax.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Southern fried food!

What is your favorite movie genre and why?

Science Fiction captures me every time.  I am amazed at creative people’s imaginations and how they can make their visions come to life on the big screen.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I will have my BS in Biology and will be a graduate student in medical school.

Most valuable lesson learned?

Always be prepared for anything.  I am the girl that my friends come to when they need something.  I love being able to help.  All you need to do is ask.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why?

That would have to be my grandmother.  She is the classiest woman that I know.  She always reminds me that anytime I am out in public I am representing my family.  I am constantly aware of that.

What motivates you?

People that suffer from invisible illness and push through their pain.  My big brother Robert is definitely my biggest motivator.  He is 15 years old and has suffered from chronic migraines since he was 7.  He is my best friend; my hero and I would do anything for him.  He is super smart too and helps me with my hardest subjects in school.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title?

I have started the first student chapter at a K-12 school in the United States for the Association for Migraine Disorders (AMD).  This has been possible because of the support and assistance from my school’s headmaster, guidance counselor and my family.  The University of Michigan has the only college student chapter in the US.

Best compliment you have ever received?

“You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.”

Secret wish or dream?

To be crowned Miss America!  I watch it every year on tv and never miss it!

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

Once at a dance competition, my head piece flew off during my back walkovers.  It didn’t stop me though because the show must go on!

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you?

I would love to try softball.  I am not a, “sporty girl” so this would be way out of my comfort zone!

What is your superpower?

I have empathy for others.  I can sense their emotions and place myself in their position.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program?

Being able to talk to adults fluently, while at the same time being confident.

Describe yourself in one word.

Modest

A Fun Family Fact?

My grandpa was offered a MLB contract to be a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers when he was a senior in high school.

Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) describing yourself to the people viewing the website. Let people know who you really are. Keep in mind the questions you’ve already been asked and include other things that you would like people to know about you.

Hi everyone!  My name is Hailey Nichole Pushis and I live in Columbus, Mississippi.  I am originally from Auburn, Indiana, the, “classic car capital of the world”.  The classic car models called the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg were manufactured there and sold all over the United States.  My parents are Neil and Jeanne and I have a15 year-old brother named Robert.

I attend Heritage Academy in Columbus where I am a 7th grade high honors student.  I am a member of the National Junior Honor Society, the National Junior Beta Honor Society, the MAIS Honor Society and the junior high dance team.  Go Lady Patriettes!  I have started the first Association for Migraine Disorders (AMD) student chapter at a K-12 school in the US.  I also have been involved in competitive dance since I was 7 years old.  I have taken acro, ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, lyrical, pointe ballet and tap.  My favorite dance genre is pointe ballet.  I have worked so hard to get those shoes!

I love to be at home with my family, especially my spoiled English Labradors, Mousse and Coal!  My favorite things to do with them are swimming in our pool and taking afternoon walks.  I am determined to teach them how to jump off the diving board!  They love the water!

Please write a short essay explaining your passion for your platform and your stance on the subject. Be sure to name your platform and give a brief explanation of its purpose as well.

My platform is called, “Keep Calm and Be Visible – Raising Chronic Migraine Awareness”.  I am starting a local chapter at my school through the Association for Migraine Disorders (AMD).  It is the first student chapter in the United States at a K-12 school!  There is a worldwide event on June 21st called, “Migraine Solidarity Day”.  Since this is the longest sunlight day of the year, people are asked to take a selfie wearing their sunglasses and post it on social media with the hashtag, “#shadesformigraine”.  You can go to their website, www.shadesformigraine.org and sign up to take the, “Shades for Migraine Challenge”.  Last year was the first time that AMD hosted this worldwide event and it was a huge success.  This is not a fundraiser, but an awareness raiser to show quiet support for chronic migraine sufferers.

My brother Robert is the reason that I chose my platform and I have quite a story to tell.  Robert has suffered from chronic migraine disease for over 7 years.  He has missed out on countless family get togethers, events at school, parties and was bullied by his peers for missing so much class time.  They thought he was, “faking it” just to get out of class.  Robert has always been a high honors student and loves learning.  These accusations were heartbreaking for him to hear.  All he wanted to do was get through an entire day of school and not miss a single class.    Imagine the bell in the hallway ringing, cafeteria food smells, fluorescent lights or crazy Midwest weather all being triggers.  He would even lose his vision during severe attacks and pass out at school.  Everything seemed to be a trigger for him.

Being the little sister, I saw first hand what an impact this invisible illness had not only on Robert, but my entire family.  Both of my parents would go day in and day out hoping and praying for an answer from experts in the medical community, but nothing was changing.  I always had to go along with my parents when Robert would have a neurologist appointment.  Over the course of several years, we traveled to three different states, seeking answers from three different neurologists.   Robert took so much medication that he was not himself anymore.  He would constantly forget things, could not find the right words to say and was always sick.  Robert had to be homeschooled his 8th grade year because he was ill several days a week.  My parents both worked full time jobs, so homeschooling him while at the same time juggling everything else, was a nightmare.

Things were about to change.   In spring 2016, my parents decided to take us on vacation to the Gulf Coast.  During their research of trying to figure out Robert’s triggers, they came across an informational article that said Mississippi was one of the top five states for people to live in that suffered from weather-triggered migraines (the others are Alabama, Florida, Southern California and Hawaii).  While we were on this trip, Robert was never sick.  He was happy, laughing, talking, cracking jokes and my parents could not even believe his behavior.  For ten days in a row, he was completely pain free.  However, less than 24 hours after we returned to Indiana, Robert was sick and for several days with a horrific migraine.  It was at that moment my parents realized that barometric pressure changes, a huge migraine trigger for millions of sufferers, was the one thing that was torturing my brother daily in the Midwest!

My parents decided that we had to get Robert out of Indiana and into Mississippi.  My dad works for one of the largest steel producers in the United States and they had recently purchased a facility in Columbus.   Through the course of what seemed like forever, my dad was able to transfer to the Columbus plant.  He even got a much better job and the rest is history!   My grandparents even moved here, and they love Mississippi too!  Robert can go to school with me each day, lead a normal life and be pain free.  This is the reason for my platform and I have one of the strongest connections to mine that any contestant could.  It is real and unfortunately; invisible illness is not recognized as being a severe health issue in our society.  It is viewed as an excuse to be lazy.  My goal is to raise awareness throughout Mississippi and the entire country that just because you cannot see someone’s pain, doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Get those sunglasses out!  Show you care and wear a pair on June 21!  I will be looking for you on social media!  #shadesformigraine