Contestants arrive for Miss Mississippi Volunteer Scholarship Pageant

The pageant promotes scholarships, education, responsibility, volunteerism and empowerment

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Contestants from across the Magnolia State are in Tupelo for a unique beauty pageant.

Miss Mississippi Volunteer Rachel Shumaker greeted each contestant as they arrived to register at the Performing Arts Center at Tupelo High School.  Shumaker, who is from Pontotoc, was crowned the winner of the first Miss Mississippi Volunteer Pageant last summer and says it’s been the experience of a lifetime.

“I’ve been able to accomplish more than I’ve ever dreamed, specifically with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, speaking to over five thousand Mississippians, this year at about 40 presentations on safe driving, heading into law school this fall with about eighteen thousand dollars in scholarships, but I think the most important thing I’ve been able to do this year is help build up this program,” Shumaker said.

Contestants will take part in one of four pageants this week, the Miss Mississippi Volunteer and Miss Mississippi Teen Volunteer pageants. Winners of those will head to the national competitions.  There are also two fundraising events, the Spirit of Mississippi and the Miss Pre Teen Spirit of Mississippi competitions.   Pageants feature interview, talent, fitness and wellness, and evening gown competitions.

Contestants have a full week ahead and since volunteerism is one of the key pillars of this pageant, the young ladies will also take part in acts of service throughout the community.

“One category we added this year, not a pageant, but our Honey Bee Princess Program.  We have 25 little girls who will do a mentoring program all week long, even doing things at NMMC Children’s Wing, painting tiles for the ceilings,” said Steve Stockton, executive director of the pageant.

Each contestant’s platform is meant to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

“My platform is “Defined by Me’ allowing individuals to know their circumstances do not define their future, the choices they make every day will determine their destiny,” said Hannah Perrigin, Miss Lowndes County.

“My platform is Chosen, raising awareness for adoption as a choice.  My adoptive parents had been trying to have a child for five years, through a call through their home church they were able to adopt me fourteen hours after I was born,” said Celeste Lay, Miss Oxford.

“My platform is Epi Care is Epinephrine education and awareness, where I get to advocate for the food allergy community, I’m allergic to six of the nine food allergens. dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish,  I educate others on the importance of carrying an epi-pen,” said Rebekah Wallace, Miss Desoto Teen Volunteer.

The Miss Mississippi Volunteer Scholarship Pageant runs through Saturday when the winner is crowned.

For more information on the pageant, go to Miss Mississippi Volunteer website. 

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