Grace and Talent Shine: Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County 2024 Crowned
Published 12:53 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023
By Laura O’Neill
Nine ladies competed for the titles of Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County on Thursday, November 9 at the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts. Kassidy McMahon was crowned Miss PRCC 2024 and Savannah Faith Sylvest was crowned Miss Pearl River County 2024.
Brittney Diaz-Roman was selected as the first alternate and winner of the interview competition. Laura Cate Lumpkin was chosen as the second alternate. McMahon won both the social media challenge and talent competition. Other award winners that evening included Ryan Sorrells for most ad sales and Madison Sekinger for Miss Congeniality.
PRCC’s Director of Marketing & Recruitment, Kari Eve Valence, served as master of ceremonies. Valence shared a brief history of the Miss America competition, including the shift to a scholarship program in the 1940s. The winner of the Miss PRCC competition receives a full-year scholarship. The winner of the new Miss Pearl River County receives a half-tuition scholarship.
Judges for this year’s competition included Mrs. Margaret Hyer of Hattiesburg, Mr. Richard Patton, Jr. Of Poplarville, Mrs. Jessica Hardaway of Vicksburg, Mrs. Julie Lee of Hattiesburg, and Mrs. Mary Brandon Johnston of Destin, Florida. Candidates were judged on five categories including a private interview earlier in the afternoon, an on-stage interview, lifestyle & fitness, poise in an evening gown portion of the competition, plus their social impact statement, and talent. The candidates brought poise and talent to the building while celebrating Our Miss America Era based on Taylor Swift albums.
Between the different portions of the evening, Sunni’s Elite Dance Academy of Poplarville entertained the audience with several different dance numbers performed by the teams of talented dancers and future Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County competitors.
Miss Mississippi, Vivian O’Neal, was the special guest of the evening. She spoke about the Miss Mississippi program along with her personal experience with it. O’Neill is the founder of a 501C3 nonprofit organization called Capable, which provides disability inclusion resources to educators. The program aims to bridge the social gap, disability, and students through education.
“I’m so incredibly impressed by these women who have been on stage,” said O’Neill. “If you have never done something like this or been on stage in any capacity, it is one of the most difficult and vulnerable things that you can do.”
Before presenting the winners of Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County, the audience was introduced to two new crowns for ladies between the ages of 13 and 18 and inspired to grow even more to make a change in their community. Miss Pearl River County Teen Harley Holder and Miss Picayune Teen Baylee Albritton will attend the Miss Mississippi Orientation in February and compete in the Miss Mississippi Teen Competition in April.
In addition to the scholarships awarded to Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County, the winners will receive wardrobe and accessories to wear at Miss Mississippi next June, sponsored by our wonderful and amazing sponsors: Apple’s Ltd. In Poplarville, Coral Cactus Boutique online in Hattiesburg, Delta Dawn Gifts in Poplarville, and Posh Boutique in Poplarville. Justin Daniels Photography is the new official photography sponsor, providing the winners with headshots. Soap de Joli from Picayune has Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County soaps with a portion of sales going to the titleholders as a cash scholarship. Each winner also receives $750 cash towards her competition at Miss Mississippi.
“I am so thankful for the amazing ladies who step up throughout our practice week and backstage on the night of competition to make sure each of our girls competing have an amazing opportunity and then with crowning as they move forward to Miss Mississippi,” said Director of Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County Lauren Baker. “We are so excited to watch these young women grow with experience and gain more help with scholarships to further their education and experience!”
Mackenzie Brownlee of Hattiesburg had the social impact platform of Teachers Matter Too. She sang the song “Anyway” by Martina McBride for her talent. Brownlee is studying political science with the goal of entering law school.
Brittany Diaz-Roman of Hattiesburg shared her desire to help past foster children find success through Fostering Family, Fostering Opportunity. Her talent was a self-authored monologue titled “The Helper.” Her career goal is to earn a doctorate in occupational therapy.
Laura Cate Lumpkin of Carriere is working towards degrees in psychology and physical therapy. Her social impact was “Peace After Pain” and her talent was spoken word titled HERStory.
Kassidy McMahon of Laurel is currently a business owner and studying to become a court reporter. Her social impact is “The Happiness Project” and her talent was singing “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brettin.
Elizabeth Ola of Picayune is studying to become a registered nurse. She performed the original song “I Can’t” for her talent and chose Freedom from Addition through Healing Generations for her social impact.
Madison Sekinger of Kiln plans to become a kindergarten teacher as well as a paramedic. Her social impact was sick children who cannot afford hospital bills. She danced to “I Was Here” by Beyonce for her talent.
Laken Smith of Poplarville put forth the “Helping Hand Project” for her social impact. For her talent, she danced to “Battlefield” by Svrcina. Her goal is to enter the field of elementary education.
Ryan Sorrells of Picayune sang the song “Garden” by Carrie Underwood for her talent. Working towards dual paths of being an entrepreneur as well as a surgical technology technician, Sorrells chose the social impact of Tutoring for All.
Savannah Faith Sylvest of Sumrall is working towards law school and becoming an assistant district attorney. Her social impact was Sunshine in the Mourning. She provided vocal percussion (beat box) to “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner for the talent portion.
The newly crowned Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County will begin their reigns immediately and will represent Pearl River at the Miss Mississippi Competition in Vicksburg in June. Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County are preliminary competitions to the Miss Mississippi and Miss America scholarship programs.