‘People just fell in love with her’|[06/30/08]

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

Miss Mississippi Christine Kozlowski had goal of making Top 10

When Christine Kozlowski came to Vicksburg for her second Miss Mississippi Pageant last week, her goal was to make the Top 10. After making the first cut, she stood with the Top Five, waiting to hear her name as fourth runner-up, then third, then second. It didn’t happen.

“That’s what was so intimidating – to be up there with the front-runners – because in my mind they had already won,” Kozlowski said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

And then there was one. As outgoing Miss Mississippi Kimberly Morgan crowned Kozlowski Saturday night at the Vicksburg Convention Center, she whispered in Kozlowski’s ear.

“Kimberly was just saying, ‘I told you,'” said Kozlowski, the daughter of Brian and Norma Kozlowski. The pair competed as the oldest and youngest contestants in 2007.

The 19-year-old D’Iberville resident is the youngest winner of the Miss Mississippi pageant this century. She competed in her first pageant, the Miss Mississippi Coast preliminary, as a senior in high school. The second time around, she knew what was expected.

“I prepared like I was going to Miss America. Now I really have to prepare for Miss America, just 10 times harder.”

Kozlowski, a sophomore majoring in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Southern Mississippi, takes everything about preparing seriously, from her regimented diet and exercise to her interview skills. Even with all the preparation, she wasn’t ready for what happened after Morgan pinned on the crown.

“I was doing my walk down the runway and all I could think about was that my dress was caught on my shoe,” she said, laughing.

Being young won’t hurt Kozlowski in the Miss America Pageant come January in Las Vegas. Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund was 19 when she was crowned.

“My dad used to call me Miss America because I’d always be primping,” Kozlowski said.

Around the Miss Mississippi stage, there are rumors that the next Miss Mississippi already knows who she is, Kozlowski said.

“There are even rumors that Miss Mississippi knows that it’s her, but I looked in the mirror and said ‘no way (did I know).'”

“People just fell in love with her,” Norma Kozlowski said about her daughter. “We know she has a lot to learn, but because she’s a people person she’ll do well.”

The eldest of four siblings, Kozlowski’s varied interests span from languages to cooking. She loves Food Network and Paula Deen, though Deen’s cooking doesn’t exactly fit with Kozlowski’s nutritious lifestyle.

“Just watching her can make you just go into a sugar coma,” she said. “But her personality is just so real.”

She began teaching herself Spanish by translating Selena songs. She has even written a few songs of her own.

Related StoriesPageant scholarships up to nearly $700,000″The first one was a heartbreaker song about when I had to quit dancing,” she said.

But she returned to dancing, and has now danced for seven years. It was, in part, her dancing that gave her the crown.

“It’s just a way to express yourself without even opening your mouth. It’s a way to express yourself from the tip of your toes to the tips of your fingers with a smile on your face.”

Kozlowski will dance her way to Las Vegas in January to compete for the Miss America title. If she wins, she will be the fifth Miss Mississippi to win the national crown.

A tentative reality show is scheduled around the Miss America pageant, in which Kozlowski will take part.

“My goal is to be myself and get some camera time, but not in a negative light,” she said.

Ultimately, Kozlowski will use the self-confidence that won her the crown to guide her through her year as Miss Mississippi.

“I’m up for changes and suggestions, but if I like myself the way that I am, then I’m going to stay that way.”