Rachel ShumakerMiss Dixie
Hometown: Pontotoc, Mississippi
Platform: Ahead of the Curve – Scoliosis
Talent: Piano performance
What college did you attend, or are currently attending? Mississippi State University
What is your major? Communication and Public Relations
What is your scholastic ambition? I plan to gain a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Public Relations, pursue a master’s degree, and eventually work in public relations for a non-profit organization.
List scholastic honors: Dean’s List Fall 2017; Shackouls Honors College student; MSU Freshman Council; Ingomar High School STAR Student; BNA Bank Scholarship Recipient; Daughters of the American Revolution History Award
Greatest non-academic accomplishment: Receiving the Miracle Maker Award at Miss Mississippi 2017 for raising over $1,550 for the Children’s Miracle Network was an incredible honor.
What is your favorite style of music? My taste in music varies greatly. I listen to classical or piano covers while studying and love to sing along to musical theatre classics with my sister, but I listen to just about any genre otherwise.
What is your favorite movie genre and why? I love fantasy movies like the Harry Potter series, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Percy Jackson.
What is your favorite gadget? It’s a tie between my iPhone and my Keurig coffee maker. Both are equally essential for life.
What is your favorite blog? Savvyjanine.com. It’s so interesting to follow the life of Savvy Shields, post-Miss America.
What is your favorite place to visit? New York City at Christmastime
What is your favorite food? I love Italian food, but my favorite sweet treat is a Bavarian crème-filled donut from Scarlet’s in Tupelo, MS.
If you were on a deserted island, what book would you want with you? Any of the Harry Potter books
Do you twitter? Yes! Twitter is my favorite place to catch breaking news and follow political opinions in a more casual setting than news programs.
What is your favorite?
Sport: Baseball or Olympic Gymnastics
Sports Team: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Actor: Johnny Depp
Actress: Viola Davis
Television Program: Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News and House of Cards on Netflix
Wardrobe Accessory: My Kate Spade watch that says “Eat Cake for Breakfast” on the face
Thing to do on a weekend: Traveling with friends and family, shopping, and watching the Bulldogs play
Way to spend a day off: Catching up on sleep and watching a few of my favorite Netflix shows
What is your hometown like? My hometown of Pontotoc is small, quaint, and patriotic. It is very family-oriented and was once voted the best place in Mississippi to raise a child. I am thankful for the support of the citizens of Pontotoc in my endeavors as Miss Dixie.
What were you like when you were a child? I was independent, strong-willed, eager to learn, and adventurous. I asked a lot of questions and loved traveling, which really hasn’t changed.
Who is the most influential person in your life? My scoliosis doctor and surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Sawyer, made a lasting impact on me during the most difficult time of my life. He always ensured I was as educated as possible about the condition I faced and worked to lessen its impact on my life. After surgery, Dr. Sawyer still supports my endeavors and work with my platform, Ahead of the Curve, and I am thankful and proud to call him a friend.
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize?
I consider myself a little “obsessed” with politics. I love watching opinion shows and reading political books.
Describe one defining moment in your own life, other than winning your local title:
The first time I visited St. Jude as a patient, I saw so many children who were much sicker than I was, living out their childhoods in a hospital. This was when I knew I wanted my involvement with children’s hospitals to go beyond my time as a patient. Because of these visits, I have a greater understanding of the need for supporting these hospitals through fundraising and awareness.
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program?
I’ve learned that my story is important and can be used to make real, tangible differences in the lives of others. What I once thought were unfortunate circumstances in my life evolved into my purpose and passion, and the Miss America Organization gives me the tools and voice needed to use my message effectively.
If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service?
I want to inspire Mississippians to strive to be more than a statistic or stereotype, to set goals and work hard to achieve them. I also want to expand scoliosis screenings across the state of Mississippi and work to fundraise for scoliosis research, so that the knowledge surrounding scoliosis and its limited treatments can be expanded. I hope to do all of this while telling my patient story and serving as an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network .
What is your secret wish or dream? To be the White House Press Secretary
I’m motivated by: The personal goals I set for myself. I am my own toughest critic and don’t like to disappoint myself. Goals are a pillar of my life.
Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal platform?
My personal experiences with scoliosis called me to create a platform that addresses a vital need in the medical world. There is much work to be done in scoliosis research and education and Ahead of the Curve works to resolve these issues.
What do you think has been the most significant event in your lifetime?
My scoliosis journey as a whole changed the course of my life. I was given a purpose and a passion, and a voice to make a difference because of it.
The one thing I can’t live without: My mini-schnauzer and fluffy cat.
My best friend would describe me as: Busy. My friends get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing for Miss Mississippi!
Something interesting about my family: Everyone in my family either graduated from or currently attends Mississippi State, except for my Mom. Sorry Mom, and Hail State!
Funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me: One time during an important piano performance, I forgot at least half of my piece and sat there just staring at the piano. It was embarrassing, but it taught me the value of resilience after defeat.
One thing I’d like to try that is out of character for me: Although I am terrified of heights, every now and then I do something spontaneous to attempt to overcome that fear, which is why I might try to go skydiving.
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names: I have three dogs: Millie, Foxy, and Champ, and one cat: Crookshanks. They bring joy and entertainment to my life.