Miss Hinds seizing her moment in time as first-year Miss Mississippi contestant|[06/22/08]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2008

This week, during the talent portion of the Miss Mississippi Pageant, Miss Hinds Community College De’Lisha Wiggins, will sing “A Moment Like This.”

The 19-year-old Vicksburg native said the song, the signature tune of “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson, describes perfectly how she feels about being in the pageant.

“I’ve waited so long to be in the Miss Mississippi pageant, so it felt like the right song,” said Wiggins.

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Wiggins said her mother would take her to the Miss Vicksburg pageant each year, which inspired her to aim for the Miss Mississippi crown. This year, for the first time in at least 50 years, a Miss Vicksburg was not crowned because a pageant director could not be recruited. The former directors, Bill and Alene Thornton, retired in 2007.

“I knew I was going to be on that stage,” said Wiggins, the daughter of Melvin Wiggins and Yolanda Martin.

A member of the 2006 – and last – class from All Saints’ Episcopal School, Wiggins just finished her first year at the Vicksburg campus of Hinds Community College, where she is majoring in biology.

Since there is no Miss Vicksburg, Wiggins is doing double duty, representing both her hometown and Hinds Community College.

“I feel like I still represent Vicksburg and Hinds Community College,” she said. “I feel honored that I’m able to represent both of them.”

In 2006, she represented Vicksburg in Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, in which she competed as Miss Vicksburg’s Outstanding Teen. However, this is her first year to enter the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

“I never get too nervous until the night of (my talent),” she said.

Wiggins said that although she has been preparing for the various facets of competition, the pageant has arrived more quickly than she had anticipated. She has been rehearsing with local blues singer Vickie Baker, who is choir and band director at St. Aloysius High School, shopping for dresses, working out and preparing for the interview portion of the pageant, which happens off stage.

If you goThe Miss Mississippi Pageant preliminaries will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Vicksburg Convention Center. The final competition will be at 8 p.m. Saturday and will be shown live on WLBT, local cable Channel 3. Tickets for all four nights are $100. Single-night tickets are $25 each for Tuesday and Wednesday; $30 for Thursday; and $50 for Saturday. Tickets for the Miss Mississippi Ball, set for 8 p.m. Friday at the Rainbow Arena, are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Friday’s 2 p.m. Miss Mississippi riverfront mural unveiling and the 7 p.m. parade are free. For information, call 601-638-6746.OnlineMiss Mississippi special section”They ask about your platform and a lot of questions about Mississippi politics,” she said.

To prepare, Wiggins said she has been following the 2008 presidential election. It will be her first time to vote for a U.S. president.

To support her March of Dimes platform, Wiggins organized the Vicksburg March for Babies earlier this month. The organization raises money to support healthy births and pregnancies, which goes hand-in-hand with Wiggins’ aspirations to pursue a career in health care.

“I love to help people, and I figured I could get that done better as a nurse practitioner,” Wiggins said.

As for this week’s events, she is excited to return to her alma mater. She and her 44 competitors will stay at All Saints’ dormitories while they set their sights on the crown.

“I want to have fun – I’d love to win Miss Mississippi,” she said. “I want to win talent the most because that’s what I’ve been working hardest on. It’s an opportunity to go and learn more about the pageant so that I can come back and compete again.”