The Meek School of Journalism and New Media faculty and students were rooting specifically for two Miss America contestants when the pageant aired Sunday, Sept. 9, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
While Miss Mississippi Asya Branch and Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson, both who have Meek School ties, were not selected among the final 15 contestants, Meek School leaders were proud that they represented the Meek School and the University of Mississippi in the competition.
Branch, a University of Mississippi junior, is a current Meek School student. According to her pageant bio on the Miss America website, Branch said the competition empowered her to embrace her past while helping children of an incarcerated parent find their way.
“Having the backbone and financial base of our family stripped away through incarceration and arrest left me hurt, confused, scared, bullied, and withdrawn,” she said. “Through the Miss America Organization, I have been able to face my fears and insecurities brought on by my father’s imprisonment. Now, I am boldly working to help other children who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances fulfill their greatest potential and realize they have an uninhibited future.”
Williamson, 22, attended UM and the Meek School as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, she was a news anchor for NewsWatch.
According to Williamson’s pageant bio, she is an advocate for Alzheimer’s because she has lost four family members to the disease, including her grandfather, who she helped her mother take care of for 11 years.
“I watched the lengthy demise of someone I loved, and vowed to be a catalyst for change,” she said. “As a National Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Association, I have lobbied U.S. and state congressional leaders for three years on Alzheimer’s initiatives. I have raised $25,000 for Alzheimer’s Association to help the 5.7 million Americans and their caregivers fighting America’s most expensive disease.”
Meek School leaders also helped lead a Miss America watch party sponsored by the Student Activities Association inside the Student Union ballroom. Debbie Hall, a Meek School instructional assistant professor, said the watch party was organized to give UM students a way to celebrate the Meek School’s two Miss America contestants. Refreshments and games were offered.
Hall said the Meek School’s Event Planning class conducted a fundraiser for the two contestants’ platforms prior to the pageant as a way of recognizing and honoring them.
Students, faculty and alumni were encouraged to use the hashtag: #MeekMissAmerica Sunday night.
“I think this is just a further indication of the quality students we have in our Meek School programs,” Hall said.Tags: Asya Branch, Christine Williamson, communication, featured, imc, integrated marketing communication, journalism, marketing, meek school, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, Miss America, pageant, Public Relations, University of Mississippi