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Miss Hospitality: Title made me better person

Madalyn Oglesby believes her yearlong reign as Miss Hospitality has changed her life.

“I think it just kind of made me a better person because I learned about different people, that we could all come together to want to represent our state,” the 19-year-old Brookhaven Academy graduate said. “Going into the community and talking about it changes your perspective of where you live.”

Oglesby, a freshman at Southern Miss, is preparing to crown her successor Feb. 16 and hopes the young woman who follows her will enjoy the experience as much as she has. She regularly messages friends she made in July during the weeklong state program in Hattiesburg and uses the public-speaking skills she learned to help in her classes at college, she said.

“It’s changed me a lot, like to grow up and want to represent something and something I’m really passionate about,” she said. “I think it made me a better person and really have a better love and understanding of my town and how we can come together and get things done if we all work together for it.”

Entry to the local program is $25 and applications are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 13. For an application, call 601-833-1411 or email admin@brookhavenchamber.com.

The program is open to young women between the ages of 18 and 24 by July who are graduating high school or enrolled in college. Participants must have a minimum of 2.5 GPA and live in Lincoln County.

The local competition will be Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. at the Chamber office at 230 South Whitworth Ave. Participants will compete at a formal tea this year and are required to dress in business attire with either skirt or pants. Each contestant will be judged 60 percent for a five-minute interview, 20 percent for a 30-second live commercial about Lincoln County and Brookhaven and 20 percent for presence, composure and confidence.

The winner will be expected to attend the state contestant workshop in Hattiesburg June 1 and the state competition July 21-27.

The winner will receive a $250 scholarship, gift basket and official Miss Mississippi Hospitality crown, sash and pin.

The gifts were nice, but Oglesby appreciated the experience much more.

She said she has never shied away from talking in front of anyone if she was prepared. However, interviews at the local and state level have strengthened her abilities as a public speaker.

“It really will prepare me when I’m older and interviewing for a job because I’ve learned those interview skills and how to answer things and how not to get nervous talking in front of a panel of people,” she said.

The daughter of Tim and Valarie Oglesby of Brookhaven, Oglesby followed in her mother’s footsteps when she won the title of Lincoln County Miss Hospitality and now she’s following her into the medical field.

Her mother, a registered nurse, teaches for Hurst Review. Oglesby plans to become a nurse anesthetist.

“I just always think the medical field has been where I need to be,” she said. “I like that kind of stuff and helping people has always been a big passion, even though I do like promoting and all the marketing and everything the Miss Hospitality pageant was about, I really just think the medical field is where I’m supposed to be.”

Oglesby wants to encourage young women to try for the title, even if they don’t care if they win. She wasn’t expecting to hear her name called, but she’s glad now that it was.

“It really did help me to become a better person and it’s prepared me for things in life that I wasn’t prepared for,” she said. “Even if they’re not wanting to be Miss Hospitality I think they should still give it a try because of how it shapes you to be a person and how it just gives you the skills to be able talk and go around and represent your community.”

Chamber Program Director Katie Nations said the Miss Hospitality winner is invited to attend anything the Chamber hosts as an ambassador and ride at the front of the annual Christmas parade. A Lincoln County contestant who wins at the state level will get to travel throughout the state and attend events with the governor.

“They get the royal treatment,” she said. “It’s a big deal.”

The Brookhaven Exchange Club pays the state entry fee for the local winner. Thousands of dollars in scholarships are available at the state level.

“It’s a really good opportunity for somebody,” Nations said.