Mary Kate Nelson

Miss Brandon

Hometown:   Brandon, MS

Scholastic Ambition:   Graduate high school early within the top ten percent of my class, get my bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi, and go to medical school to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Scholastic Honors:   Honor Roll, Principal’s Award, Beta Club School President, Mississippi Junior Beta Secretary, National Beta Leadership Ambassador

Talent:    Vocal Performance

Platform:   “Hearts for Hope”

 What makes you special and unique? I’m not willing to conform just to make friends or impress people.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? When people first meet me, many of them say I can come off as very serious. In reality, I’m super quirky and lighthearted, and I love to make people laugh!

Best advice you have ever received? My mom has told me ever since I was little that my self-worth is never defined by other people’s opinions, but by what is in my heart.

What can’t you live without?   I could never live without Nutella. I eat it on everything.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?  Binge watching Grey’s Anatomy

What is your favorite movie genre and why? I’ve always liked watching action movies. I love the excitement that comes with sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for what will happen next.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In 10 years, I see myself continuing my education at the University of Mississippi in medical school to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.

Most valuable lesson learned? The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that not everyone in life will want to be your friend, but you should still treat them like they are.

Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why?   One person I consider a special role model in my life is Leah Hebert, my Pre AP-English teacher. Even though she teaches over 100 students, she still continues to make every student feel individual and special. She has welcomed me this year with open arms, and she never fails to let me know that I am enough when my problems seem to overshadow everything else.

What motivates you?   Something that motivates me is knowing that there is someone in my life who depends on me and looks up to me. By bettering myself every day, I’m also impacting the lives of those who consider me to be a role model.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title? Becoming a MHSAA State Champion in Pom and Hip Hop and becoming a UDA All American Dancer.

Best compliment you have ever received? The best compliment I’ve ever received is being told that I have a beautiful heart.

Secret wish or dream? Since I was around 7 years old, I’ve always had a secret wish to be just like Hannah Montana, living the double life of a normal teenage girl and a superstar. School girl by day, rockstar by night!

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? I was once texting a friend about a boy I liked. I wasn’t paying attention, and accidentally sent it to him. He laughed it off, but I was super embarrassed. Let’s just say things were awkward between us after that…

What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you? One thing I would try that is out of character for me would be cage diving with sharks! I think it would be awesome to get to see real sharks underwater. Then again, after watching Jaws, The Meg, and 47 Meters Down, I might would rethink that!

What is your super power? Many people say that I have a superpower of teaching and explaining.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Program? I’ve learned that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds, and is defined by so much more than just having a pretty face- it’s having a pretty heart and a strong mind, too!

Describe yourself in one word. Quirky

A Fun Family Fact? My grandmother moved to Germany to be with my grandfather during World War 2, and they lived there for a little over 3 years, before coming back to the States and starting a family.

My name is Mary Kate Nelson, but all my friends call me MK. I’m 14 years old. I live in Brandon, Mississippi, and have lived there for around 7 years. I’m a freshman at Brandon High School, where I am on the dance team, as well as being a member of Beta, HOSA, and the Health Science Academy. I go to Pinelake Church, where I worship, as well as work in the nursery. I have two younger siblings, Madison, who is my 13-year-old sister, and John Thomas, my 3-year-old brother! I’m pretty much a normal teenage girl who loves listening to music, traveling, doing hair and makeup, and taking endless selfies with my friends! I also love to sing and dance. I perform at many of the school’s functions, including Beauty and Beau, and Brandon’s Got Talent! I also tried out for NBC’s The Voice this past June, and it was a blast!

While I love dressing up and being on stage, I haven’t done many pageants. In fact, my local title was the first pageant I’ve participated in in over 8 years! I’m so excited to have been given the opportunity to compete in Miss Brandon’s Outstanding Teen, and I am forever grateful for the chance to wear the crown! This year has already been so amazing, and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for my life. From the appearances to volunteer work, I can definitely say that this is one of the best organizations for young girls to participate in! It has taught me so much about myself, the people in my community, and it has taught me lessons that I will forever cherish! Even though this is my first year and I’m just getting into the Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen pageant, I can say that I am ready to take it head on and do my very best!

Ever since I was around 7 years old, I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, and I remember being specifically interested in the heart. As I got older, I dreamed of being the “Christina Yang” of my generation and how many lives I could save by doing the most highly technological surgeries that the world could offer. My interest in the human heart increased significantly when my little brother was around six months old. One second, we were at his regular 6 month check up with our pediatrician and the next, we were at Batson Children’s Hospital, waiting on the results of an EKG. After waiting for hours with no answers and absolute fear, our doctor told us that his aorta was pinched off, causing his heart to work twice as hard as it should’ve been. His heart couldn’t pump blood to the rest of his body fast enough, causing his hands and feet to turn blue. The doctors told us that if it wouldn’t have been caught as quickly as it was, we could’ve lost him. This realization of just how much I could’ve lost so easily is what inspired me to start my platform, Hearts for Hope.

Hearts for Hope is dedicated to raising awareness for early detection of heart defects. One way that we can promote early detection is by doing pulse oximetry tests at birth. Unfortunately, it is not required in many states due to Insurance regulations; in turn causing many heart defects to be detected too late. If pulse oximetry tests were mandated in hospitals, many of the heart defects like my brothers would be caught early enough to be fixed. Because my family and I have had to fight this battle, we understand what so many families across the country are going through. We are firm believers in fighting for early detection, and raising awareness through Hearts for Hope can help us achieve that goal!