Be prepared, flexible, outgoing queen tells successor|[06/28/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

After she crowns her successor tonight, Miss Mississippi 2007 Kimberly Morgan will have some downtime after a very busy year. She might even get to go fishing, one of her favorite hobbies.

“My business manager told me I’ve been the most requested Miss Mississippi,” the 25-year-old Oxford native said. “To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement.”

Morgan, a graduate of Alcorn State University, won the title last July, becoming the 50th winner crowned in Vicksburg. Before taking up her Miss Mississippi duties, she was a music teacher with Quitman County School District. She hasn’t decided if she will return to teaching or pursue other opportunities, such as following her passion for music.

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“I need time to prepare,” she said. “That’s something I’m keeping in prayer.”

Morgan’s love of music helped her win a preliminary talent award during last year’s pageant for her rendition of “Summertime” from the musical “Porgy and Bess.” Music is also the basis for one of her favorite experiences as Miss Mississippi – meeting Mississippi native and blues legend B.B. King here in Vicksburg this month.

“B.B. King kissed my hand,” she said. “I’m just amazed with him. He taught me to always stay busy, always stay active and never let your soul die.”

Morgan, the daughter of Elzie and Valerie Morgan, competed last year as Miss Heritage and once before as Miss Southwest.

Morgan spent the first part of her reign preparing for Miss America, held in Las Vegas in January. Attached to the pageant was a TLC reality show called “Miss America: Reality Check,” which turned out to be a reality check for Morgan.

“I learned to never believe everything you see on television. There’s so much going on behind the scenes. It’s all about ratings. I learned that, in any and every situation, never compromise who you are.”

The show “updated” the 87-year-old pageant by nixing the stereotypical hairspray, airbrushed makeup and song-and-dance numbers during the televised Miss America competition. Morgan placed in the Top 16.

The crowningThe final night of the Miss Mississippi Pageant begins at 8 tonight at the Vicksburg Convention Center Tickets are $50. The pageant will also be televised live on Jackson’s WLBT, local cable Channel 3.OnlinePageant PhotosMiss Mississippi special sectionMiss Mississippi Pageant Website”I was satisfied,” she said. “I really wanted to do better, but I’m proud of accomplishing that. I felt good – I was my best.”

Though she says leaving the title behind will be bittersweet, there are a few things she’s looking forward to.

“I get to spend a lot more time with my grandparents and my friends. I really miss my friends more than anything.”

And of course, there’s fishing.

Morgan said the time she spent representing Mississippi has offered opportunities for personal growth, but she also gained insights about family.

“There is power in family, in family unity, in family support and, of course, the older I get the more I learn. One thing I’ve learned that’s valuable is that, throughout the major accomplishments and accolades, and even in the worst of times, there’s no great feeling to have, no better gift to be given, than a family’s love.

Morgan also had a few words of wisdom to pass to her successor, whom she will crown tonight.

“Always be prepared – never really plan your life because as Miss Mississippi something is always coming up. Enjoy it, make the best of it because it’s only a year, and it’ll go by so fast.”