Holly Brand

Miss Vicksburg Outstanding Teen

Hometown: Meridian

Hobbies: Singing, playing piano, ukulele, drums, and mandolin, hiking, boating/water sports

School: I am homeschooled.

Scholastic Ambition: I would like to graduate from Belmont University in Nashville with a degree in music.

Scholastic Honors: Phi Theta Kappa (Community College Honor Society) as a dual enrollment high school student; 4.0 GPA in college courses 

Talent: Vocal Solo

Platform: Teddy Bears for Troopers

What makes you special and unique? I am a girl who loves to get dressed up in heels, makeup, and dresses, but I also love to put on camouflage and boots and head to the deer stand with my dad. You might catch me hiking through the woods today, but on stage in a formal tomorrow.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? Upon meeting me, people might not realize that I am fascinated with weather! In fact, one of my favorite shows is “Tornado Alley.”

Best advice you have ever received? The best advice I’ve ever received is to stay true to who I am.

What can’t you live without? I could not live without music. Whether playing piano, singing, or just strumming my ukulele, my happiest moments involve making music!

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Mountain Dew!

What is your favorite movie genre and why? I love sci-fi horror films because they keep me on the edge of my seat!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I hope to be a college graduate pursuing a career in contemporary Christian music.

Most valuable lesson learned? Always write down your passwords! After 48 hours without my phone, followed by losing all of my data when it was restored, I have learned to never rely on my memory when it comes to passwords!!!

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? A lady in my church affectionately known as “Miss Mary” is a role model to me and many others. She suffers from many serious health problems, but she is always smiling and encouraging others. Her positive attitude and love for God is contagious.

What motivates you? My parents have instilled in me a strong work ethic. They taught my brother and me to always do our best in whatever we attempt, and that message motivates me.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? My greatest non-academic accomplishment occurred in 2013 when I advanced past the celebrity judges on to the Hollywood boot camp round of the television show, XFactor. Although my journey ended there, I was honored and humbled to be among the final 218 acts out of the tens of thousands who auditioned. 

Best compliment you have ever received? A little girl’s mother once told me that she hoped her daughter grew up to be just like me. I will never forget how special those words made me feel.

Secret wish or dream? I wish I could tumble like an Olympic gymnast!

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? My most embarrassing moment occurred onstage when I was singing. I was in the middle of “Amazing Grace”, a song I had known since I was very young, and I suddenly went blank and couldn’t remember the next line. Luckily, the audience was sympathetic and they started singing right where I left off.

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? I would like to try surfing, even though I rarely get too far from the shore when I’m at the beach.

What is your super power? I can yodel while swimming!

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program? I’ve learned the importance of just being myself. When I first began competing at age 13, I was concerned with giving the perfect pageant answers and singing the perfect pageant song. I’ve come to understand that I just need to be me!

Describe yourself in one word. Authentic

A Fun Family Fact? Everyone in my family has at least one musical talent.

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

I am Holly Brand! I am the daughter of Barry and Connie Brand, and I have an older brother named Hunter. I am a homeschooled student in my junior year of high school, and I take classes at Meridian Community College as a dual enrollment student. My passion is music. Most of my spare time is spent singing, playing a melody on my piano, or strumming a tune on my mandolin or ukulele. I come from a family full of musicians, so our family reunions often revolve around people playing and singing for hours. 

When I’m not studying or singing and playing, you can find me in the outdoors! My family and I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and boating. Most of our summers are spent on the water, where we spend countless hours riding and tubing.

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11. It reminds me that God has a plan for my life, even when things don’t go the way that I had hoped. I look forward to seeing all that my future holds and enjoying the blessings along the way.

Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) 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 Teddy Bears for Troopers! I collect and donate stuffed animals for state troopers to give to children in emergency situations.  I have collected these bears from a variety of sources, but most of my donations come from elementary school students. Typically, I go into classrooms and talk to the students about the importance of making a difference in the world, and I convey to them that they can make a difference for children through my platform.  Once I’ve explained the project to them, we begin a two- week “teddy bear drive”. At the end of the drive, I return to the school and collect the stuffed animal> before delivering them to a Mississippi Highway Patrol office.

2017 is my tenth year of involvement with Teddy Bears for Troopers. As a small child, stuffed animals were my favorite toys, so when a friend in Texas introduced me to the idea of police officers using these toys to comfort children, I knew I wanted to get involved. First, I simply donated some of my own like new stuffed animals, but by the age of eight, I started my own “teddy bear drive” to collect donations. Since then, I have collected and donated thousands of stuffed animals for law enforcement agencies in Mississippi. I hope to present at least 1000 bears per year to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. To help with my efforts, Governor Phil Bryant has repeatedly issued proclamations naming May 2, my birthday, “Teddy Bears for Troopers Day” in Mississippi, and our state troopers have recognized my platform with an article in their publication, Mississippi Trooper.

Projects such as Teddy Bears for Troopers exist in other states, and some are operated by the troopers themselves. In Mississippi, no formal program exists, so it is up to volunteers to make sure that state troopers have stuffed animals on hand for these children. Hopefully, my platform will help raise awareness of the need for donations, and more people will become involved to help make a difference for Mississippi’s children.