Pageants about more than you may think

Published 7:04 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

Some may scoff or roll their eyes at pageants like Miss Mississippi or Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen. I’ve been guilty of that in the past.

However, contestants often get the last laugh.

A new Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen will be crowned today right here in Vicksburg. This year’s Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen, Holly Brand, who will relinquish her crown today to the 2018 winner, will enter the University of Alabama this fall with all of her tuition covered, thanks to the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organizations.

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Hannah Roberts, who was crowned Miss Mississippi in 2015 and went on to become first runner-up in the Miss America pageant that same year, began medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in the fall of 2016. She earned enough scholarship money from her pageant participation to pay for her entire medical education, which costs more than $100,000.

Who’s laughing now?

Today, pageants like Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen have evolved far beyond the “beauty” pageant we think of from years ago. The young women who have the gumption to participate are pretty special. They put on display their poise and self-confidence, talents and ambitions — something many of us did not have the nerve to do, particularly during our teens.

Brand, whose platform or cause is Teddy Bears for Troopers, began at age seven collecting stuffed animals for highway patrol officers to use to comfort children they come across during emergency situations. Because she earned the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen title, Brand was able to take her cause to another level and further the program by working directly with Mississippi’s Commissioner of Public Safety Marshall L. Fisher.

Brand has traveled the state, many times with our own Miss Mississippi Anne Elizabeth Buys, learning more about our state than she ever would without her pageant experience. In addition, she participated in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando, seeking that national title. “How many people can say they know someone from every single state?” she asked recently.

We are proud of Holly Brand, and look forward to welcoming a new Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen later today. Mostly, we are proud to be the home of the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen pageant and the Miss Mississippi pageant.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at