Helen McDougald

Lee County’s Outstanding Teen

Hometown: Tupelo, MS

Hobbies: Singing, Dance, Shooting Sports, Cooking, Show Choir and Yoga

School: Tupelo High School

Scholastic Ambition: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree and become a Pediatric Surgeon

Scholastic Honors: Honor Roll, National Jr Beta Club, National Jr Honor Society

Talent: Dance

Platform: Dyslexia Awareness

What makes you special and unique?  I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Irlen’s Syndrome in third grade.  Learning to read and retain the material was difficult, but the process has made me very organized and I’ve been able to maintain Honor Roll grades in AP classes.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? Most people do not realize how much I love being outdoors, riding ATV’s in the mud.  I am not the least bit afraid of getting dirty!

Best advice you have ever received? Teddy Roosevelt is my favorite president and I love his quote “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.”

What can’t you live without? Concealer and lip-gloss are always in my “go bag”.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Red velvet cake is one of my specialties.  I love to bake!  I started selling cakes when I was 12.  In my family, you learn to cook before you start school.

What is your favorite movie genre and why? I love action movies.  My favorite movies are the Daniel Craig versions of the James Bond movies.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I will be in medical school.  Everyone says I should sleep now because I won’t get any sleep for 6 years!

Most valuable lesson learned? Active listening is the most valuable skill in life.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? My Dad is a wonderful role model because he is intelligent and respected.  He always practices the Golden Rule.

What motivates you? Competition is my greatest motivator.  I always want to do my best.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? Overcoming Dyslexia and Irlen’s Syndrome is my greatest accomplishment.  I have help raise money for Regional Rehabilitation of Tupelo by emceeing the “Voices of Yesteryear” event which featured Tribute Artist, Gary Crain and many others; answering the phones for Celebration of Hope Annual Telethon; helping with the St. Patrick’s Day Run and helping with Derby Day Events.  I have been helping Regional Rehab for four years.

Best compliment you have ever received? The community leaders and educators I have spoken with about Dyslexia have all told me my confidence is my best trait.

Secret wish or dream? I dream about being Princess Aurora who is Sleeping Beauty, at Disney World.

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? I have fallen down the stairs at school several times.  My friends try to help me if it is raining because they know I’m prone to slipping.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? I don’t love tight spaces but I think I would like to scuba dive.

What is your super power? I can smile in the face of adversity or stress.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program? I have always volunteered.  The Miss Mississippi Program has shown me how much young women give back to the community through their dedication and commitment in hours of service and funds raised.  While I have always volunteered I now know I am part of an incredible group of intelligent beautiful young women who are making a big difference.

Describe yourself in one word. Confident

A Fun Family Fact? My family tree includes some real pirates!

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

 I am an honor student at Tupelo High School and a member of the Synergy Show Choir.  I love to dance and have studied ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary.  Dance is my escape and my creative outlet.  I enjoy singing and love to entertain.  Learning to sing and dance at the same time last year in show choir has been interesting and I have learned so much about the physics of singing.  It has taught me many things about show design and how songs and vocalists have to adjust for dance moves required and the acoustics of the stage and theater.  Being part of a team dynamic has been very rewarding!  We won third place at the FAME National Showchoir Competition in 2016!

I spend my weekends outdoors.  I love riding ATV’s, hunting, fishing and target shooting with my family.  My 93-year-old grandmothers loves to fish too!  The next best thing to being outside is cooking with my family.  My mom and dad love to cook and I started cooking when I could help mix cake batter.  I sold my first red velvet cake when I was 12.  This isn’t unique in my family; I have three little cousins who love to help me in the kitchen and we always have fun!

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

My platform is Dyslexia Awareness.  I had a difficult time learning to read in kindergarten and was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Irlen’s Syndrome in the third grade.  I truly understand the frustration and hours it takes to learn what comes easily for most students.  I also understand the bullying that happens when you have any learning challenge.  Statistics show that 20-25% of people have Dyslexia but only a few have been properly tested and diagnosed.  My goal is to have every child who shows difficulty reading tested for Dyslexia by the third grade so those who need therapy can get it early.

As an active member of my community, I have partnered with the Regional Rehabilitation of Tupelo in my fundraising efforts.  I have successfully gained community sponsors to help with several fundraisers.  My goal is to raise enough money to hire another speech pathologist at Regional Rehabilitation of Tupelo.  I chose publicizing Dyslexia as an issue because of my own experience before and after I was diagnosed with Dyslexia.  We need to recognize and assist these children and encourage them to believe in themselves and their abilities, to ignore what others might say about them and trust in themselves.