Meek School of Journalism and New Media alumna Christine Williamson has spent countless hours with children of the Children’s Miracle Network. Christine’s passion for helping others is a big part of why she won Miss Tennessee, said her sister, Christal Williamson.
“She really cares about the children there,” said Christal, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Tennessee.
She touched the heart and changed the life of one child so much that when the child passed away, the parents asked Christine to sing at the funeral.
Christine Williamson, 22, grew up in Memphis. After high school, she attended UM as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, she was a news anchor for NewsWatch and a member of Phi Mu sorority.
After graduating in 2017, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to pursue a master’s degree in business with a certification in data analytics, which she has put on hiatus for now.
She began competing for Miss Tennessee just five years ago. The first year, she was Miss Memphis and didn’t make the top 15. Then she was named Miss Smoky Mountains the next year and jumped all the way to earning second runner-up.
Her third year, she fell back slightly as Miss Mountain Empire by getting third runner-up. Last year, she was able to get first runner-up as Miss Scenic City. Finally, she won the title this year as Miss Chattanooga.
“It was five years of determination and hard work,” Christine said. “Lots of hurt and disappointment, but there were a lot of reflection and understanding that it’s not about instant gratification. It’s about what you learn on the way to achieving your goal.”
As Miss Chattanooga, Christine served as a Tennessee congressional advocate and national ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, raising more than $25,000 for the association. She is also a Tennessee State Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Her experiences at Ole Miss have stayed with her along the way, giving her skills that helped her become Miss Tennessee.
“I’m glad that my undergraduate degree at Ole Miss gave me the on-camera skills for my job as Miss Tennessee,” Christine said. “Going forward, I know how to use those media skills and know how to best promote the issues that I care about.”
Additionally, the close friends she made during her time at UM continue to provide encouragement and support.
“I was really shocked at when I worked at NewsWatch at how much it became like an entire second family and how supportive they’ve been through all of it,” she said.
Her Phi Mu sisters have provided an enormous extended family as well.
Most of all, Christine said, her family has supported her on this journey, and they were able to celebrate when she finally won the Miss Tennessee crown.
“My mom has been my biggest cheerleader and friend through the process, and Christal, my little sister, definitely has been, too,” she said. “My sister was squalling her eyes out … so it showed me how much it meant to her.”
“I was really excited, but mostly excited for her to see her fulfill this goal,” said her mom, Carol.
“I love cheering her on,” Christal said.
Her family continues to provide love, support and encouragement as she prepares for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They understand all the hard work and effort she has put into the contest, such as going to the gym, practicing speeches and more, because they competed in a few pageants as well.
Christal won Miss Banana Pudding Outstanding Teen in Dickson, Tennessee, Miss Collierville Outstanding Teen and Miss Delta Fair. One year, their mom even competed for Miss Tennessee.
Christine said if she was to be named Miss America, her focus would remain on a few key topics: to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s and the Children’s Miracle Network, in addition to character education.
The children and their families at the CMN hospitals have shaped her life, she said.
“I want to really focus on them and give them my everything,” she said. “They’re so strong, brave and courageous, and the families have really changed my life. I’m really excited to spend more time with them hands-on.”
The Miss America pageant is set for Sept. 5-9 in Atlantic City. The final night of the competition will be televised at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Besides Williamson, Asya Branch, a rising junior majoring in integrated marketing communications at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at UM, was crowned Miss Mississippi and also will compete for the Miss America title.
This article was written by Kendall Patterson of UM Communications.