Four former MMOTs vie for crown

Published 1:53 am Saturday, June 27, 2015

Last summer, Jasmine Murray became the first person to have ever been both Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Mississippi. This summer, four others are looking to join her.

MMOT 2008 Morgan Burnett, MMOT 2009 Laura Lee Lewis, MMOT 2011 France Beard and MMOT 2012 Molly May are all competing for the title of Miss Mississippi 2015 this week.

Molly May

Molly May

Lewis said her pageant journey started in 2008.

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

“Someone said ‘I think you would enjoy the teen pageant, and it’s a great way to give back to your community,’” she said. “I knew nothing about pageants, but on a whim I decided to do it because I knew there was a talent section, and talent was my outlet to become a new person and get out of my comfort zone.”

Lewis said she soon learned the organization was about so much more than that.

Morgan Burnett

Morgan Burnett

“It’s about giving back to communities, giving back to people, making and impact and being a change agent,” she said. “I said ‘I am forever hooked on this organization because it’s not just a beauty pageant or not just a talent pageant; it’s an overall great, confident young woman pageant. I’ve loved it ever since that.’”

Lewis said she would not be competing in the Miss Mississippi pageant this week had it not been for the Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen pageant.

Laura Lee Lewis

Laura Lee Lewis

“I had such a positive experience from the teen pageant,” she said.

May said through doing the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen pageant she gained a lot of experience, especially through her experience at the national teen pageant, where she placed fourth runner up.

“Not necessarily because I was walking on stage in a swimsuit, but you know, you get locked away for a week, you have your cell phone taken away and you become very independent,” she said. “You have to depend totally on yourself.”

France Beard

France Beard

May said competing in the teen pageant also helped her become a better public speaker, a better interviewer and feel more comfortable on stage.

“I think it’s the best thing you could do,” she said. “You’re getting affiliated with the organization itself, but you’re also gaining experience by being on the stage and somewhat knowing what to expect when you make the transition from teen to miss.”

Burnett said the current Miss Mississippi, Jasmine Murray, crowned her as Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen in 2008.

“It’s really a stepping stone,” she said. “You learn a whole lot, and it’s really the mentorship that as a teen you get to have with a miss. The teens look up to us for guidance as far as wardrobe and what to do and what not to do.”

Burnett said it’s truly an honor to be able to be that mentor now, and the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen pageant deserves credit.

“I used to have a different outlook on the competition itself,” she said. “I know it’s just more than what the average person would think of as a pageant. I know that it’s hard work and dedication and quite frankly, I was thinking as a third-year occupational therapy student at the medical center I don’t have a lot of time for pageantry, but I knew this was something I really wanted to do and God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Burnett said it’s been fun the watch the pageants grow over the years.

“I think they’re both prospering,” she said. “The teen pageant when I did it, it was in it’s infancy, and when I look back at it, all I can do is smile at how much it has grown, from scholarships they’re offering, the girls and all the events they’re involved in, being more collaborative with the miss pageant — now looking back and seeing how much they do now, I can definitely see it’s not a stagnant program. We’re definitely progressing here both as a teen and a miss pageant.”