Rebekah WallaceMiss New South
Hometown: Olive Branch, MS
Scholastic Ambition: To obtain a Vocal degree with an Emphasis on Music Performance.
Scholastic Honors: Spotlight “Gifted Program” 2013-2017; Honor Roll; Pre-AP Classes.
Talent: Vocal: “Listen” from the musical Dreamgirls
Platform: Epi-Cares: Epinephrine Education and Awareness
What makes you special and unique? I make an effort to compliment people every day. Whether I am telling the cashier at Target that I like her nails or my friend at school that her hair looks pretty, I know that I am making someone smile by telling them something nice.
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize? I am allergic to six of the eight major food allergens and have suffered anaphylaxis twice. This is why I work so hard to bring about more awareness for safe epinephrine injections because without it, I would not be here today.
Best advice you have ever received? “In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.” Suffering from food allergies, severe eczema, and asthma made my childhood difficult. My parents always told me to keep my chin up, to never be ashamed of my situation, and to always be myself.
What can’t you live without?? I don’t know how we ever existed in a world before cell phones! It has everything I need at my fingertips: talking, texting, internet, news… there’s an app for everything.
What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Because of my food allergies, it is hard to find baked sweets that do not contain milk and/or eggs. I only recently discovered what a doughnut tastes like. That was the best
What is your favorite movie genre and why? I absolutely love musicals. Movie musicals represent a magical world. It’s like an escape into a different, more interesting, more musically beautiful place.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I will have completed college after pursuing a vocal degree. I would like to open my own vocal arts studio but only after I have spent a few years traveling the world. I really want to visit England and France.
Most valuable lesson learned? The most valuable lesson I have ever learned was to not judge a book by its cover. When I was in kindergarten, kids stared at the eczema on my skin and didn’t understand why I couldn’t eat what they could eat due to my allergies. I don’t want others to ever feel left out like I did.
Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why? In 2014, I was accepted into a program at National Jewish Health in CO for a 2-week stay for my allergies, eczema, and asthma. While I was there, I met Jenna. She came into the program to find out why she was having allergic reactions that were making her sick and be in pain. Despite all of this, she was the happiest person to be around. She was an amazing example of someone who smiles through her troubles and is positive no matter what. We are still friends to this day!
What motivates you? I like a challenge whether it is trying out a new musical style, exploring an unusual arrangement for one of my favorite songs, or learning a new cheer routine all in the same day, I am the person who loves to stay busy!
Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title?When I was eight years old, I began taking voice lessons for the first time. In a few short months, my vocal coach felt I was prepared to compete in local talent competitions. I competed at the Mississippi State Fair Talent Competition and not only did I win my vocal category, I was named 2nd Place Overall in Vocals that year!
Best compliment you have ever received? I was named Food Allergy Hero of the Week by Red Sneakers for Oakley, an organization that advocates and brings about awareness for food allergies and the use of epinephrine. Oakley was a young boy who passed away after an allergic reaction to peanuts and it was an honor to have been given this recognition by the organization in his name.
Secret wish or dream? My secret dream is to perform the Stranger Things rap with Millie Bobby Brown, the actress who plays “Eleven”on the Netflix show. She performed this on the Jimmy Fallon show as a recap of season one, and I know every single word!
What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? I was in a Broadway Review show that included a lot of energetic dancing. One show I didn’t realize that the boy next to me was getting too close as I danced. Before I knew it, I did a turn and knocked him backwards. He got back up and kept going thankfully but, of course, it was the one night my parents were recording the show so there is video proof!
What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you?I would love to go to Atlanta and be a part of Zombie School for The Walking Dead. While this isn’t totally out of character for me because I love horror shows, the thought of being transformed into a terrifying monster is more daring than I normally am.
What is your super power?I have learned that “compassion” is my super power. Growing up with people staring at my eczema or wondering why I can’t eat foods like everyone else, I know firsthand that life should be about kindness, sincerity, and not judging others. I never put myself above anyone else.
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Program?I have learned that the sisterhood is a real thing. Even before I was crowned a local titleholder, I felt it backstage. It’s an instant bond you have with each other that can’t be explained. Maybe it’s because we all have similar goals. We all want to be the best young women and role models that we can possibly be.
Describe yourself in one word. “Brave” has always been my word of choice to describe myself.
A Fun Family Fact?I come from a family of musicians. My mother is a vocalist, my brother plays guitar, bass, drums, and saxophone, and both my grandfathers played instruments. The most interesting fact of all is that my great-grandmother was an opera singer on the radio during World War II.
I am a fourteen year old 8th grader from Olive Branch, MS, I attend Center Hill Middle School where I am a member of my school’s television show, MTV2, a member of Best Buddies, and am a veteran Mustang Cheerleader. I am active in theatre and have performed in over fourteen shows (mainly musicals) in the past four years. I enjoy singing and have spent many years training in Memphis, TN as well as competing in numerous talent and vocal competitions.
I am an advocate for epinephrine education and food allergy awareness because this is part of my life and has been since I was an infant. I am allergic to six of the eight major food allergens, as well as several environmental allergens. I will never eat egg or drink milk and I will never ride a horse. Coming in contact with these, and many other allergens, will result in anaphylaxis that could lead to death if not treated immediately. I work with various organizations such as Red Sneakers for Oakley, Show Your Teal, and The Land of Can, and my own platform Epi-Cares:
Epinephrine Education and Awareness, to help promote food allergy awareness and safe epinephrine injections.
I am proud to be the reigning Miss New South’s Outstanding Teen and plan to continue to work hard to promote my platform through the use of social media and public appearances where I focus on the warning signs of anaphylaxis and how to administer most epinephrine pens. Whether I am blogging for the Food Allergy Alliance of the Midsouth or being featured as a leader in the food allergy community, I will use this as an opportunity to educate as many people as possible in order to save lives.
When I was five months old, I was diagnosed with food allergies, eczema, and asthma. I was shuffled from doctor to doctor trying to find the right nutrition and skin plan. My skin was covered in red, scaly patches and no matter what my parents did, I continued to scratch despite eliminating the foods I was allergic to from my diet. Each year I was tested again and each year more foods were taken out of my diet. By the age of five, I was testing allergic to all eight of the top food allergens and I had not grown in size in over two years. I was put on an elimination diet to try to rid my body of food toxins for a year but nothing changed. It wasn’t until I was eight that my mother found help from a hospital in Denver called National Jewish Health. Within two weeks of their thorough testing methods, I walked out of the hospital with not only the knowledge and tools I needed to treat my eczema but after carefully studying my skin tests and blood tests, they determined that I was now only allergic to six of the eight top allergens. We also found out that many of my allergies were considered fatal and that I had spent the past eight years dangerously living without epinephrine.
I left National Jewish Health with a new sense of determination. I had met so many children going through the exact same situation I was in and realized that I was not alone and if I was not alone then there were children all over the country who may not have received any education on the proper signs of anaphylaxis and use of their epinephrine. I have since experienced two anaphylactic life threatening reactions and had I not been prepared, they could have been fatal. Thanks to the education my parents and I received from my doctors, the epinephrine injections saved my life.
Working closely with various food allergy organization, I have started a social media campaign to spread awareness for my platform, Epi-Cares: Epinephrine Education and Awareness. I have been an active leader in the food allergy community and been applauded for my efforts to raise awareness and education for not just the proper use of epinephrine but also educating on the signs of anaphylaxis. By visiting schools across the state, I have been able to teach children about food allergies and the proper use of epinephrine pens. I am working on a children’s book to take with me to the schools to continue educating the children in our state and the proceeds from any book sales will further raise money for epinephrine education and awareness. It is important to me to educate as many people as possible in order to save lives.