Stephanie Stanford, Miss Mississippi State University
Jessica Terrill, Miss Historic South
More than $100,000 will be awarded to the contestants at this year's Miss Mississippi pageant. Some of them plan to attend law or medical school, earn master's degrees or PhDs.
All of them say participating in the pageant is part of their education. They also hope to win the crown to promote what they say are crucial issues that impact all of us.
The Miss Mississippi pageant has long required contestants to be involved in their communities. The Miss America organization works very closely with the Children's Miracle Network. But the contestants we talked with say they didn't just pick up the causes they work with to compete at Miss Mississippi.
"This pageant allows me the opportunity to really get the word out there and speak to people about preventing childhood obesity. I had an opportunity to speak alongside First Lady Michelle Obama," said Chassidy Sumler, Miss Madison County.
"I go into elementary schools and talk about my program 'Power Pals' which implements three elements I believe make up a healthy lifestyle, which is a powerful mind, a powerful body and a powerful spirit," Anna Beth Higginbotham, Miss Heartland said.
Kayla Snow, Miss University, says it boils down to wanting to serve.
"My family has been through two tornadoes and each time Mississippi has come together to help my family get back on their feet both times and I am so passionate about our state because of that," said Snow.
Stephanie Stanford, Miss Mississippi State University, says an experience at a marathon changed her life.
"Amid the race, a man fell out and had heart attack, literally died on the scene," Stanford said.
She now volunteers and says it helped her decide on a career.
"So I do want to go to med school and I even looked into cardiology. It's something that really speaks to me personally," said Stanford.
Miss Historic South, Jessica Terrill is back for the fourth year. She says the pageant has taught her the importance of being resilient.
"I had some health issues last year so I was kinda off, and I finally feel like myself again, and I finally feel excited," Terrill said.
The contestants say they can't wait to discuss their platforms with judges. They say the greatest power of the crown is to be able to give back and serve the people of Mississippi on an even greater level.
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