Nine of the university’s prestigious women competed in the Miss USM scholarship pageant on Saturday.
The pageant is an official preliminary to the Miss Mississippi Pageant, which will be in June 2016.
Macy Mitchell, a freshman communication studies major who was crowned Miss USM 2016, will compete in Miss Mississippi as the representative of The University of Southern Mississippi.
Bethany Noelle Cuevas, senior child and family studies major, placed second alternate in the Miss USM Pageant. She said that she loves opportunities that allow her to continue her leadership on campus.
“Pageantry helps me gain self- confidence, opportunities that I would never have had and a sisterhood,” Cuevas said. “I wanted to compete in Miss University of Southern Mississippi because I bleed black and gold.”
Cuevas added that she loves having the ability to make people aware of her platform, which is called “Volunteerism: Every Hour Counts.” Cuevas implements her platform through her community by shining a light on issues through volunteer drives.
Taylor Robbins, a junior biochemistry major, was a first- year contestant through the Miss Mississippi Organization. She discussed her excitement and admiration for her newfound love.
h“I really wouldn’t consider myself much of a pageant girl, but this experience has definitely forced me to find things about myself I would have never discovered had I not given it a shot,” Robbins said.
Robbins said she has competed in pageants before, but never one of this caliber. Robbins placed third alternate at Saturday’s event.
Meredith Moody, pageant director, expressed her love for pageantry. She said she has always enjoyed planning and executing events and that now she is combining her two passions.
“The most rewarding part of this job is seeing the contestants become more confident in who they are and seeing the smiles on their faces when they realize that they can truly do anything they put their minds to,” Moody said.
She discussed how the contestants inspire her as a director by facing their fears and challenging themselves through this process.
“Only one girl can win the crown, but every single one of them will take away memories, friendships and skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their life,” – Moody
The Miss USM Pageant provides thousands of dollars in scholarship money toward the contestants’ educations.
First runner-up of Miss America 2016, having walked away from the Miss America Pageant with approximately $25,000 in scholarship money, Miss Mississippi 2015 Hannah Roberts was the emcee of the Miss USM Pageant.
Friends and family of the contestants described Roberts’ performance as breathtaking and the highlight of the event. Other highlights included the Spirit of Southern performance and the crowning moment.
“‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others,’” Mitchell said, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. “As Miss University of Southern Mississippi, I now have the opportunity to give back to such a wonderful university that has already blessed me with so much.”
Mitchell described her crowning moment as overwhelming with gratitude.
“I am extremely excited to learn about the opportunities and plans the university has for me,” Mitchell said. “As Miss USM 2016, I now have an even bigger voice for my platform, ‘The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.’”
For more information about her platform, visit the Crowns for a Cure Facebook page.
Mitchell will go on to compete in the Miss Mississippi 2016 scholarship pageant in June 2016 as the university’s representative.