Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love my job as a Buyer Specialist for The DeLois Smith All-Star Team?  Not only is my work fun and rewarding, but the people I work with are amazing!  And working here provides me with so many opportunities that I would have never had if I had just simply retired from teaching.  For example, last month, my co-worker and dear friend, Linda Seifert and I decided to represent The DeLois Smith All-Star Team in support of our fabulous Miss Mississippi in Atlantic City!  Because neither of us had been to Boston, we thought why not…let’s go there too!  After conferring with our Boston clients, Bill and Mary Nolan who now live in Petal, we were pumped!  By the way…Bill and Mary bought a house here sight unseen!  Adam Watkins was their Realtor and he talked with and emailed them for over a year and found them their dream retirement home.  They are remarkable people and great friends!  See what I mean about this job?  Linda and I also got to visit Philadelphia (Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell) for about 3 hours.  That is another somewhat funny story that I may tell you one day…another “missing our flight” adventure!

     As a little girl, I was always glued to the television set the night of the Miss America Pageant.  It became a tradition… watching it with my mom and then in later years with groups of girlfriends and most recently with my own daughters and their friends.    For me, it has always been one of my favorite television nights…like the Super Bowl for men!  Despite the criticism of pageants, I think the Miss America Pageant celebrates female achievement!  Just take a look at our Miss Mississippi, Hannah Roberts.  What an accomplished young lady and role model she is!  I know Hannah and her mom personally and I am one of Hannah’s biggest fans!  I taught with her mom, Danna, at Seminary Elementary and taught Hannah reading in first grade.  Hannah is an exceptional person.  Her platform, “Pages of Love” was not a service project that she had to quickly invent as a requirement for the Miss Mississippi competition.  It was actually started by Hannah when she was in the sixth grade.  As a child who was often sick, she noticed that there were very few books for children in the waiting rooms.  She began collecting new and gently used books and distributing them to clinics, hospitals and children’s organizations. To this day she has collected and distributed over 26,000 books in five states and two countries.  Hannah is an Honor’s College student and Presidential Scholar.  She graduated summa cum laude with a Biochemistry degree and a minor in Biology from USM last May.   Not to mention, she was also awarded top senior in the College of Science and Technology, was one of only three students in Mississippi to win the National Barry Goldwater Scholarship for science research, and has already been accepted to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine to pursue a career as a pediatric plastic reconstructive surgeon.  Not only excelling in academics, she is also an accomplished classical violinist and has been playing since the age of 5.  When she was in 11th grade she was named Mississippi’s Junior Miss and later named 2nd alternate to America’s Junior Miss.    She won Miss USM in 2013 and was named 1st runner-up to Miss Mississippi.  This year she won Miss USM again and was named Miss Mississippi 2015.  Seeing her named 1st Runner-up to Miss America and STEM Scholarship winner (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) was truly special.  Only 3 Miss Mississippi’s have been awarded 1st runner-up…Patsy Puckett in 1965 and Jane Ryan in 1967.  Mississippi, however, has had 4 Miss Americas!  Say what you will about beauty pageants, the scholarships awarded have certainly been appreciated by Hannah and her hardworking teacher parents! All of Hannah’s undergraduate studies have been paid for by scholarships and the $30,500 she won at Miss America is definitely helping pay for medical school!

     So to all pageant opponents who claim that Miss America contestants are sexist, lame, degrading and embarrassing…go ahead and celebrate /support the  Miley Cyrus’s and Kim Kardashians of the world in which may unassumingly become the role models for your little girls.  Humm?    As for me, I will continue to support the great values Southern traditions I was raised with…prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, In God We Trust, Merry Christmas, baseball, apple pie and Miss America contestants!

                                                                                                Southern Girls Rock!

                                                                                                Brenda