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Future Ole Miss student crowned Miss Mississippi Teen Volunteer

An incoming University of Mississippi freshman is the state’s first Miss Mississippi Teen Volunteer.

Mary Kate Nelson, granddaughter of Kay Nelson of Oxford, was crowned Saturday at the Performing Arts Center in Tupelo.

“Being the first ever Miss Mississippi Teen Volunteer means so much to  me already,” said Nelson. “I am honored to begin a legacy of empowerment for young girls across our state, and I am even more excited to wear my state’s name across my chest.”

During the pageant, she entertained the crowd with her vocal performance of the Eagles’ Desperado and was recognized with the Overall Interview award.

Nelson is a recent graduate of Brandon High School, where she served as Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) president and was a member of the BHS Yearbook staff and the Health Sciences Academy, as well as other student organizations.

Nelson focused her impact initiative, “Hearts of Hope,” on making a happier and healthier Mississippi by advocating for heart health.

She was inspired by her younger brother’s struggle with a congenital heart defect.

Through this initiative, Nelson raised funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the American Heart Association and donated gaming consoles for the cardiology patients at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital.

She plans to attend University of Mississippi in fall of 2021 and major in Public Health and Health Sciences with an emphasis in Health Science Studies.

Nelson will also dedicate the next year to serving her home state through furthering her Hearts of Hope platform, empowering young women, and serving  as an official partner for the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s D.R.I.V.E. campaign. 

Additionally, she will represent  Mississippi at the national pageant held in 2022 in Jackson, Tennessee, and will be joined by Rachel Shumaker, Miss Mississippi Volunteer.

The Miss Mississippi Volunteer Pageant is the state branch of the Miss Volunteer America Pageant, a nationwide, non-profit and service-oriented scholarship program based in Tennessee that seeks to empower young women across the country through educational scholarships and extraordinary opportunities.

MHP D.R.I.V.E. promotes safe driving habits to young drivers across the state and works to reduce teen driving fatalities.