Kimberly Page, a junior speech pathology major, was crowned the new Miss University of Southern Mississippi Saturday night at the Saenger Theatre.
“It was really overwhelming and you kind of have to take a double-take and say, ‘That was my name, right?’,” Page said. “It’s really, really exciting.”
Hattiesburg residents and USM students were on hand to support the 11 contestants competing in the 69th Annual Miss USM Scholarship Pageant. During the competition, each competitor proved that this event was about much more than physical beauty.
“I think it’s really important for people to know that it encourages women to become better than they are. It encourages them to be their best selves. You learn a lot through it,” said 2013 Miss USM and junior biochemistry major Hannah Roberts.
The pageant, hosted by WDAM’s News 7 Sunrise co-anchor Mike McDaniel and Miss Mississippi 2008 Christine Kozlowski, featured many competitions where the contestants had to demonstrate their elegance, intelligence, physique and mental well-being.
One of the most anticipated stages of the competition was the introduction. “My favorite part is whenever they introduce themselves, because it kind of shows their personality a little bit,” said Harley Oliver, a junior biology major.
Another highly-anticipated part of the pageant was the talent stage. Performances ranged from a three baton dance routine to an emotional rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”
Members of the CC Dance Company performed after the talent stage. In the final stage of the competitions, each of the contestants walked to the middle of the stage to answer a randomly selected question, an activity designed to show how well-spoken each girl is.
Audiences were treated to a violin performance by Miss USM 2013 Hannah Roberts, another performance by the CC Dance Company, a farewell to Roberts and then a final parade of all of this year’s contestants.
The Spirit of Southern Mississippi Award was presented to fashion merchandising and political science double major Shequeena Brown.
Patty Turner, a biochemistry major, was announced Third Alternate. Second Alternate was junior business administration major Shonice Musgrove.
Junior dance major Arielle Dale was named First Alternate. The Miss University of Southern Mississippi Scholarship award, was presented to junior Kimberly Page.
“The Miss America Organization is actually the biggest provider of scholarships for women in America, so it’s all about empowerment,” Page said. “I just think it’s an awesome organization for women.”
“I want to make everyone here [at USM] proud. So it’s definitely not just wanting to do well for my sake, but also for everybody’s sake here that’s cheering for me,” she said.
The pageant was judged by executive director of Miss Meridian and Miss New South Scholarship Foundation Jan Blackwell, Hattiesburg native Arvell Delain, Pi Beta Phi Delegate to the Greater New Orleans Alumni Panhellenic Ashton Turberville, Hattiesburg resident Shea Houze and Mississippi State University graduate Tammy Wells.
Page will represent The University of Southern Mississippi at the Miss Mississippi pageant held July 2014.