Shelby Freeman

Miss Brandon

Hometown:   Brandon, MS

Social Impact Initiative Description:      Approximately 50% of college students receive no education of mental health issues prior to college. I am determined to educate and provide awareness of mental health issues starting at a young age.

Talent:      My passion for music, through singing, has been one of the most important things in my life since I was very young. The stage is where I have always shined the brightest through my talent of singing.

What college do you attend, or have attended, or will attend if High School graduating senior?     Mississippi State University

What is your major?      Marketing

List scholastic honors:      At Mississippi State University I am a member of the Shackouls Honors College. The Honors College has pushed me to take accelerated classes every semester and excel in everything I do academically. I have also been on the President’s List and the Dean’s List during my time here at MSU.

What is your scholastic ambition?      While attending Mississippi State University I hope to continue to scholastically excel in everything I do. I hope to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing with high honors. After I graduate, I hope to work as a Director of Marketing at a medical facility or research hospital.

Greatest non-academic accomplishment:      I have had the amazing opportunity to be a fashion model, not only for multiple designers, but also as a model and member of Fashion Board at Mississippi State University. Fashion Board has given me confidence and useful life skills beyond anything else I could learn while in college, including the value of community service and commitment to a group larger than oneself.

What has been your greatest adventure?  Please provide an answer outside of the Miss America program.       When I was 17, I was given the amazing opportunity to live in Atlanta, Georgia, and model for the dress company Jovani. This was my first time to model, to be completely independent, and my first time to make a big choice for something I truly wanted to do in my life. This unique adventure taught me how to accept and love the person I was becoming, and it gave me a true understanding of what it means to be beautiful not on the outside, but on the inside. I captured a glance of how life could be outside of my current reality.

What trip shaped your life? Please provide an answer distinct from your social impact initiative.     When I was in my early teens, I went on three mission trips to different cities around the United States. While I was on these mission trips, I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of concerts as a soloist and reach many different people and share the word of God through my voice. My last mission trip to Memphis changed my live completely by giving me such a clear understanding of what is truly important in the world. Serving others and sharing God’s love is one of my most important missions in life.

Use three (3) words to describe your greatest assets.    Purposeful, extraordinary, and dedicated.   

Are you a person of intelligence or of common sense?      I am a person of intelligence, but I work endlessly to let my intelligence, combined with common sense, work together in making my daily life choices.

Who is the most influential person in your life other than your mother?     My little brother has helped shape me who I am today. From my love for Legos, Star Wars and marching bands, to my views on life and what is truly important, his influence has created opportunities to experience life on a whole different level. He balances my life and he will always be my best friend that teaches me something new every day.  

What are your 2 favorite hobbies and what led you to them? Participation in the Miss Mississippi program is not considered a hobby for this question.      Since I was little, I have always admired my Grandmother Diane because she was an artist. Because of her, painting abstract art will always be one of my favorite activities I do in my free time. I also love taking photos around my city and at my home. There is nothing more exciting then capturing the beauty of nature inside the lens of a camera.

Who is your most interesting relative and why?     My Grandmother Gretchen will always be the most interesting and inspirational person I will ever meet. Throughout her life she has overcome countless battles. She was a business owner, an opera singer, an advocate for de-segregation in Colorado, involved in politics, and she has hosted multiple foreign exchange students and refugees. She did all this while also dealing with mental health issues and raising three children. Her life is extraordinary, and she inspires me to be the women I want to be one day.

What is the best advice you have received and from whom? Please answer this question with information from outside of the Miss America program.     My Dad always tells me that I need to enjoy my life, let the small things go, and understand that you are blessed. I find it so easy to get caught up in my small world and forget to live my best life. When I am fighting battles, he tends to always know what to say.       

What is your favorite quote?      “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela 

Who is your most influential mentor and why? Please answer this question with an individual from outside of the Miss America program.       My former boss, Tammy Patridge, leads by example and has turned me into the woman I am proud to be today. Every choice she makes is out of love for others, and thanks to her, I learned to love myself and love others with the same passion she does. Working under Tammy gave me a completely different view of what a job should look like, what true passion looks like, and what caring for others should do for the world. She will always be the most influential mentor I will ever have.

Other than being Miss Mississippi, what is your dream job?      In the future, I hope to work as a Director of Marketing at a medical facility or research hospital. My dream is to use my degree to educate and promote cancer related issues in order to secure funding and research. We must find a cure and that will be one of my main focuses. A big part of my heart is for cancer research and spreading awareness to finally have a cure for cancer.

What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize?      I usually come across as very shy and soft spoken, but what people do not see is that I am a listener and an observer. I may not always be seen in a big room of people, but when someone reaches out to me, they will know that I was there and that I was truly present in all of life around me. I am fully intentional with my words. I may be shy at first, but once I start talking, good luck getting me to stop.

What success have you learned most from?  Please answer this question with an experience outside of the Miss America program.      I live my life everyday striving to be better than the person I was yesterday and to keep doing the next thing I am meant to do. My greatest personal achievement to date was when I finally understood that progression is much more important than perfection. I learned that I cannot be a perfect person, but through my successes I have learned to instead, push for progress.

What failure have you learned most from? Please answer this question with an experience outside of the Miss America program.     Without failure you cannot have success. Every time I fail, I learn something new about myself. A very small failure, compared to most in my life, has actually taught me the most. When I was in middle school show choir, I forgot to bring my heels to a competition which was a huge deal considering shoes are a social normality. I will never forget how much trouble I got in, my embarrassment, and the pure look of horror on my mother’s face when I walked on stage barefooted. Surprisingly, I will never regret that experience, because since that day, I show up prepared. Important lesson-check your bags before you leave, not after you arrive.

What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss America Program?      It is easy to lose confidence when you start listening to what other people think is best for you, but it is so important to learn to love yourself and be proud of the choices you make. It is a constant battle to love myself. I have learned that the only person you are competing against is one’s self doubt. Through the Miss America Program, I have found a way to be 100% me at all times and be proud of who I am and what I believe in.

If you are crowned Miss Mississippi, what do you want to accomplish during your Year of Service?      As I break barriers and social stigmas, I hope to be the voice of all, for all. As Miss Mississippi I will be a giver of love and understanding, especially to those who feel as if they have no one to turn to. I will create a legacy of awareness and acceptance towards the people who have felt left behind in today’s society. I will make strides in the progression of my social impact Mind Over Matter and create a change in the atmosphere surrounding mental health. I hope to also make a difference in cancer research across Mississippi. This crown is not for my own glory, but it will be an opportunity to do something more with my life and my passions. As Miss Mississippi I am ready to be the voice of my community and my state.

Is there a personal connection that made you pick your personal social impact project?     Mental health is something that connects us all, and like many others, I have personally dealt with mental health issues. At a young age I struggled with depression due to negative body image. As I grew older, I developed anxiety and perfectionism due to my need to prove my worth. I struggle daily to overcome perfectionism. Through progression, verses perfection, I find true love for myself.

When is your sense of humor most evident?      My sense of humor is most evident right after I eat food. According to my younger brother, Colby, I’m an absolute comic and l literally bounce off the walls after I eat. I also believe my humor is most evident when I am in a social setting with people that I know well because I’m comfortable and confident enough to be myself.

What historical figure best represents who you are striving to be?      Princess Diana not only changed history, but she stood up and spoke out for what she believed in. She saw a need for change, and she used her status for the betterment of everyone. She lived her life for a greater and I strive to do the same. No matter who I become in life, I hope to use my voice and my status to promote positive growth and change.

What gadget can you not live without?      Organization is essential for my life to function. I could not live without my phone and its online calendars, reminders, and alarms to keep my life on track and myself organized.

What is your favorite sport and sport team?      My favorite sport is football and my favorite teams are the MSU Bulldogs and the Denver Broncos.