Tori JohnstonMiss Brandon
Hobbies: Singing, Show Choir, Running, Baking, Spending time with Friends, Art
School: Jackson Preparatory
Scholastic Ambition: To be in top 10 percent of my class and attend a 4 year university for my undergraduate training followed by a graduate degree in my field of study, which is yet to be determined.
Scholastic Honors: High Honor Roll, National Junior Honor Society, Chi Alpha Mu
Talent: Vocal Performance
Platform: Shining a Light on Special Needs
What makes you special and unique?
I have always been taller than my friends and therefore have always looked older. One of my nicknames in Elementary school was Giraffe, which I embraced because I could see things others couldn’t. I love being tall and feel it is a wonderful gift!
What is the one thing about you that people you meet may not immediately realize?
I love telling jokes and making people laugh. I don’t take myself too seriously.
Best advice you have ever received?
If and when someone is rude to you, kill them with kindness. Everyone has bad days and deserves a second chance.
What can’t you live without?
My family. They are my support system, biggest fans and prayer warriors!
What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
What is your favorite movie genre and why?
Romantic Comedies. I love nothing more than laughing and I am definitely a hopeless romantic at heart.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully after serving as America’s Outstanding Teen I would love to further my career in television and also marry the man God has for me, my prince charming.
Most valuable lesson learned?
Never take for granted time spent with those you love the most.
Most valued role model (other than your mother) and why?
Definitely my brother because he stands up for what is right in a world that is full of compromise. He is my inspiration.
What motivates you?
When people doubt me it makes me try even harder to succeed.
Greatest non-academic accomplishment other than winning your local title?
Winning an International Talent Competition in Los Angeles.
Best compliment you have ever received?
You inspire me!
Secret wish or dream?
To be a secret santa and give to those in need without them knowing it was me. There is no greater gift than blessing others.
What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most recent embarrassing moment is earlier this year I was talking about how CUTE our high school heartthrob is. I turned around and he was right there listening to everything I said!
What is one thing you’d like to try that is out of character for you?
Skydiving! I love adventure, but skydiving is out of my comfort zone. Break barriers and grow!
What is your superpower?
What is one important thing you have learned from being in the Miss Mississippi Program?
Having the privilege of recently interacting with approximately 1000 elementary and middle school girls, I have realized how important it is to empower them in making right decisions that will allow them to chase their dreams.
Describe yourself in one word.
A Fun Family Fact?
I am the third girl on my father’s side of the family in over 150 years!
Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) describing yourself to the people viewing the website. Let people know who you really are. Keep in mind the questions you’ve already been asked and include other things that you would like people to know about you.
I am Tori Johnston and am honored to be Miss Brandon’s Outstanding Teen for 2018. As a young child I tried my hand at basketball, soccer and t-ball. I had so much fun making new friends and playing these sports but learned after several years of “playing” that my gifts lie elsewhere! My family says I have been singing from the time I could talk. I was overjoyed to begin voice and acting lessons around eight years old and discovered quickly my passion for music, stage and film. I have had the privilege of being in a number of musicals as well as film and television broadcasting or in the music industry. I recognize that my talents are from God and my life is grounded because of my faith in Jesus Christ.
From my perspective, every day is a brand new adventure and my “happy place” is spending time with my family and friends. Traveling with my family is one of my favorite things. I delight in learning from different cultures while experiencing different foods and languages. I have discovered that people I meet on our travels enjoy hearing about my southern roots and many times are surprised to hear about the amazing people and paces from my home state of Mississippi. The lessons learned from my travels are very instrumental in enabling me to connect with people from varied walks of life.
Connecting with people, all people, is why I am ecstatic about my platform, Shining a Light on Special Needs. I want to encourage others to embrace developing meaningful relationships with special needs children and adults.
Please write a short essay (2 or 3 paragraphs) explaining your passion for your platform and your stance on the subject. Be sure to name your platform and give a brief explanation of its purpose as well.
My platform is Shining A Light on Special Needs. For generations our special needs community has been misunderstood and at times ignored as a result of not understanding their strengths and gifts. Many people, through no fault of their own, are not in contact with special needs individuals on a regular basis. However, this lack of exposure is what creates such misperception and even fear of not being able to relate or communicate effectively with special needs children or adults. My passion is to be part of the solution to change perceptions and educate Mississippians on the importance of and the contribution the special needs community makes to our families, churches, and society as a whole.
The first initiative is community education. Built in platforms for educating people are schools, civic clubs and church youth groups. These are natural settings to help Mississippians understand that working with and walking alongside of special needs individuals is a two-way street: we can learn as much from them, maybe even more, than what they learn from mainstream society. This is much more pertinent and relevant in this politically and socially hostile time in our nation’s history. One very good model of what I am referencing is the Rankin County School District. They have developed and nurtured a program where special needs teens and young adults have special services provided to them. The have a coffee shop called Gathering Grounds Coffee and Art Shop which is a working classroom environment. After high school, these students enter phase two of the program which prepares them for the real world and affords them a much better chance of thriving in their respective communities.
The second avenue of accomplishing this mission is community action. Once we have educated Mississippi, we must take that knowledge and move to action. Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison has taken that initiative. They have a Friday night once a quarter where parents and children invite special needs individuals to come to the church for games, food and recreation, allowing primary caregivers to have a night out. This also affords teenagers and adults an up-close and personal opportunity to experience real community- not an “us” and “them”, but a true community-unconditional love and acceptance of everyone!
Let’s learn, let’s act, let’s give.