Miss Mississippi 2012 Three from River City vie for the crown

Published 11:04 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

Three Vicksburg women will be on the stage this week during the annual Miss Mississippi competition, and Executive Director David Blackledge thinks it might be the first time.

Miss Central Mississippi Elyssa Lassiter, Miss University of Southern Mississippi Grace Claire Cordes and Miss Vicksburg Jeralyn Stuart, are among the 42 women vying for the title beginning Monday with the crowning June 30.

Lassiter, who competed in the Miss Mississippi Pageant last year as Miss Vicksburg, said she feels more comfortable in all phases of the competition for this year’s pageant.

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“Last year I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I feel more relaxed and comfortable and I’m not focusing on a mold of what I think they want.”

Lassiter said she is planning to look at the judges as friends and not be a “bottle of nerves.”

Lassiter plans to perform the same flute solo she did in last year’s pageant, but said she has added a few more “runs in the piece of music.”

She is the 23-year-old daughter of Dr. Ethel Lassiter and is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College and has a master’s degree from Mississippi College. She hopes to one day obtain a doctoral degree and work as a video journalist.

For Stuart and Cordes, best friends since first grade, this is the first time they have competed in the Miss Mississippi Pageant.

Stuart is the daughter of Jerry and Shirley Stuart, and Cordes is the daughter of Dr. Dale and Lyn Cordes.

Stuart said she has been doing a lot of mental preparations to ready herself for the pageant, which includes keeping a journal, praying and talking to her mom and friends.

She also said she has done four to five mock interviews, a lot of working out and shopping.

Stuart, who plans to sing in the competition, said, “I’ve been practicing for the talent portion of the pageant by singing at church.”

Stuart is a 19-year-old student at the University of Mississippi, where she is a biology major. She plans to become a doctor.

Cordes, who also plans to sing, said she spends an hour a day practicing her vocals. She said she also is keeping an eye on current events and working out to keep physically fit.

“I’ve learned to pace myself to reach my special goal,” she said

Cordes was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when she was 10, and said she has achieved a personal goal of running up to three miles making her joints stronger.

Cordes is a 20-year-old student at the University of Southern Mississippi and is pursuing a vocal performance and music education degree with plans to one day earn a DMA in vocal performance.

Not only have the three women been preparing to compete in the Miss Mississippi competition, they have also been actively involved in helping promote their platforms.

Lassiter is a certified Zumba fitness instructor and hip hop aerobics teacher and has been teaching exercise classes at Wyatt’s gym in Vicksburg and at Hinds in Utica. Her platform is “Lets B.O.O.G.I.E.!” (Banish Our Obesity Growth through Initiating Exercise).

Stuart has been fundraising for her platform, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, by making quilts that she plans to sell with the proceeds going to the hospital.

Cordes is planning a benefit concert with Hattiesburg musicians for the Foundation of Music Educators in Hattiesburg. Proceeds will go toward her platform, Supporting Music Education in Schools.

This year’s pageant features 42 women 22 new and 20 returning. E vents kick off Monday with a downtown parade followed by an autograph party at the Outlets at Vicksburg. Preliminary competition runs Wednesday through Friday at the convention center, with a winner crowned Saturday night in a live, televised broadcast. The winner will advance to the Miss America Pageant in January.

On TV and online

The pageant will be shown at 8 p.m. Saturday in a live broadcast on WLBT. A webcast will run on www.missmississippipageant.com. Also follow the pageant at www.vicksburgpost.com and on Twitter by searching @MissMSPageant.

Parade — 7 p.m. Monday along Washington Street.

Competition — 8 p.m. Wednesday- Saturday at Vicksburg Convention Center; $125 for four nights; $30 each for Wednesday and Thursday, $40 for Friday, $50 for Saturday.

Miss Mississippi Awards Ball — Saturday after crowning; Vicksburg Auditorium; $20.

Autograph parties ­— Monday night after parade at Outlets at Vicksburg; 10-11 a.m. Wednesday at Geogre Carr Motor Company on South Frontage Road; 10-11:30 a.m. Thursday at various merchants in downtown Vicksburg.

Judges workshop — 10 a.m. at convention center, Saturday.

Tickets — 601-638-6746.www.missmississippipageant.org.