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Branch focusing on Miss Universe as she crowns next Miss Mississippi USA

After being crowned Miss Mississippi in 2018, Asya Branch spent a year traveling the state. She made frequent visits to the Blair E. Batson Hospital, where she visited with the young patients and she spoke at civic clubs and schools where she promoted her platform — Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents.

It is experiences like these, Branch said, that gave her confidence to compete for the title of Miss Mississippi USA. Branch won the state title — making history as the first black woman to do so — and then in November, was crowned Miss USA.

“Serving as Miss Mississippi absolutely prepared me for the competition,” Branch said. “I competed in the Miss Mississippi Competition for three years and without that experience and growth that I gained, I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today because I wouldn’t have had those experiences to develop as an individual.”

The Miss Universe Organization, which operates Miss USA, has three areas of competition — evening gown, swimsuit and interview.

Branch said her favorite was the swimsuit portion of the competition.

“I just feel so free up there and I have never felt so empowered and confident in my skin,” she said.

Although she is hitting the gym “hard” in preparation, Branch said, her overall focus for the upcoming Miss Universe competition, which is set for May 16 in Hollywood, Fla., has been self-improvement.

“I am just focusing on myself and how I can improve all things that make me Asya and just polishing myself and becoming the best version of myself for the stage,” she said. “I think that’s really the same concept with any competition – improving on every aspect you can.”

And while she prepares to chase the international title, Branch has a bit of business to take care of Saturday, as she will crown the next Miss Mississippi USA. And, it may be someone Branch is very familiar.

One of those vying for the title is former Miss Mississippi and Vicksburg native Anne Elizabeth Buys.

Buys was named Miss Mississippi in 2017, and was the one who crowned Branch Miss Mississippi when she won the 2018 title.

The Miss Mississippi USA competition is Saturday at Horseshoe Tunica. The event will be live-streamed at pageantslive.com beginning at 9:30 p.m.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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