Leah Gibson

Miss University

Hometown:  Starkville, MS

Platform:       Drive Smart

Talent:           Vocal

What college did you attend, or are currently attending? The University of Mississippi

What is your major? Broadcast Journalism

What is your scholastic ambition? Graduate with honorsand attend law school upon graduating from Ole Miss

List scholastic honors: Kotz Scholar, Hoar Scholar, McLean Institute Innovation Scholar, Gamma Beta Phi

Greatest non-academic accomplishment: This would have to be starting a mentoring program for young girls last fall called the “G.L.A.M. Squad.”

What is your favorite style of music? Rhythm and Blues

What is your favorite movie genre and why? Comedy because I love to laugh! I read that laughing adds years to your life, and I know from personal experience that it is the best medicine!

What is your favorite gadget? My laptop is better than a personal assistant.

What is your favorite blog? Xonecole.com

What is your favorite place to visit? I love to visit my grandparents when I can get a break from school.

What is your favorite food? Salmon patties

If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you? How to Get Off of an Island for Dummies

Do you twitter? Yes – follow me at @IamLeahYazzy

What is your favorite?

Sport: Cheerleading           Sports Team: Ole Miss Rebels

Actor: Will Smith                 Actress: Gabrielle Union

Television Program: Being Mary Jane (She’s a journalist!)

Wardrobe Accessory: I love stylish jackets

Thing to do on a weekend: Arts and Crafts

Way to spend a day off: Have an at home spa day

What is your hometown like? “Stark Vegas” is a diverse college town, and in Bulldawg Country we welcome everyone. Starkville has a great public school system, and the university is always open to sharing their programs and resources which creates unlimited opportunities for K-12 students to get much needed exposure.

What were you like when you were a child? I was really shy with a big smile! In the comfort of my own home I had the biggest personality and I sang more than I would breathe. I never slept (my poor parents), and I had the biggest imagination that developed into even bigger dreams.

Who is the most influential person in your life? My great-grandmother, Allie B., she turned 100 years old this year. She is wise, outspoken, strong, smart, a woman of God, and family oriented. She has a beautiful vegetable garden and a beautiful spirit. Her life encourages me to live mine to the fullest!

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I analyze everything! I am adamant about recognizing the energy that I give off and that whichI receive. I believe that an individual can be an almost perfect balance of introvert andextrovert, and I definitely have characteristics of both. When people assume that I am quiet it is only because I let them. I take great pride in my observation skills.

Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title: I visited Ethiopia during my sophomore year of college on an in-depth reporting trip.The experience of being in Africa gave me a completely different perspective on my life.The trip gave me a deeper appreciation for true African culture and an incredible history lesson I could have never learned in school. I saw the true beauty of Africa, and not the distorted perception of the impoverished children that we often see in a traveler’s photos.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program? The Miss America Program is truly about empowering women. It is such a humblingexperience to come to the realization that you are not perfect, even though a lot of people would assume that would be a reason one might participate. This program exposes my weaknesses, and allows me an opportunity to turn them into strengths.

If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service? I want the opportunity to promote my platform on a larger scale. I am very passionate about Highway Safety, and I have a lot of ideas that would really benefit the state and raise awareness about making smart decisions on the road. Outside of my platform, I also want to create a conference through the Miss America Organization that will foster engagement with titleholders and younger children.

What is your secret wish or dream? I want to be an entrepreneur but not with just any old regular business! I want to own the network that airs my weekly talk show.

I’m motivated by: I am motivated by the life lessons that I learn when I make mistakes. I enjoy knowing that when I’m down and feel that I’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform? I was in a car wreck two weeks before my high school graduation. How ironic is it that I was serving on the Mississippi Student Advisory Board promoting highway safety across the state at the time? The wreck was not my fault, but after realizing that my life almost ended before it really got started, I decided that promoting highway safety was one of my many callings. I loved serving the state in that capacity, but I developed an even greater sense of purpose for it after the wreck.

What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime? I feel very accomplished to be so young with so many experiences and opportunities under my belt. Earning a scholarship and traveling to Ethiopia with the journalism department taught me so much in so little time. Learning about the censorship of journalism in different countries opened my mind to the realization of how free I am to report on things that need to be addressed in my own country. This encouraged me to keep trying to be the voice for those that have none.

The one thing I can’t live without: Music

My best friend would describe me as: The hyper, flower child – dramatic and full of life. A loyal friend and great listener. Way too “lovey-dovey.” The next Oprah Winfrey. A prayer partner. Movie marathon buddy.

Something interesting about my family: I live in a house of entertainers and very “loud” people. When I go home my friends from school love to watch my Snapchat stories. My family and I are all artistic in our own way, and we have so much fun putting our talents together for a good laugh or a night of family fun.

Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me: It seems as though I live for embarrassing moments, but during my junior year I played flag football. The ground was wet from rain, and I went long for a touchdown and slipped as I was turning around to catch the ball. As an athlete, this is easily overlooked, but for a former cheerleader, my fall was not as graceful and not equipped with a helmet or pads.

One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me: I would love to go sky-diving. It is not really “out of character,” but it is completely out of my comfort zone! I would definitely need the video footage for proof to those that are close to me.

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names: No, but I used to have three dogs when I was younger: Sassy (Maltese), Taz and Keena (German Shepherds)!