The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘Miss Mississippi’

Meek School students head to Atlantic City to cover Miss America pageant

Posted on: September 5th, 2018 by ldrucker

It’s one of the nation’s biggest public speaking jobs, and two contestants with Meek School of Journalism and New Media ties will be competing for the title of Miss America this week.

Three Meek School students and a professor will also be reporting live from the pageant that will air Sunday, Sept. 9, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Read Miss Mississippi Asya Danielle Branch’s Miss America profile.

Read Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson’s Miss America profile.

Read the profiles of all Miss America 2019 contestants.

They’ll be rooting for Miss Mississippi Asya Branch, a University of Mississippi junior, who is a current Meek School student; and Miss Tennessee Christine Williamson, 22, who attended the Meek School as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, Williamson was a news anchor for NewsWatch.

Dr. Iveta Imre, a professor of visual storytelling, is taking three students to Atlantic City to cover the event.

“The three students, Brian Barisa, Bryanna Bynum, and Sara Doan, will be working on stories about the girls for The Daily Mississippian, Newswatch, and Hotty Toddy,” Imre said.

The Meek School group left on Wednesday, and they will be staying through Saturday covering all activities leading up to the main pageant on Sunday.

“We applied for and received press passes, and we are planning to cover the preliminaries, other activities such as the Shoe Parade on Saturday, as well as create stories about road Rebs who are going to Atlantic City to support Asya,” Imre said.

Imre said she hopes the students learn from the experience.

“I am hoping that the students will experience reporting under pressure and on deadline as we will be Skyping live for Newswatch every night, as well as creating stories to meet DM’s and Newswatch’s daily deadlines,” she said. “We are trying to anticipate and prepare for the events, but many decisions will have to me made once we arrive on location.”

Imre said she hopes the students will create contacts with other journalists covering the pageant, and learn from observing.

“I think that it is phenomenal and pretty unusual, and I am happy this is happening as I am starting my first semester as a professor at Meek school,” Imre said. “No matter what happens on Sunday, I think this is already a great success for our girls.”

Meek School leaders are also helping lead a Miss America watch party sponsored by the Student Activities Association. The pageant will air at 8 p.m. CST on ABC. The watch party will be held at the same time inside the Student Union ballroom. All are invited.

Debbie Hall, a Meek School instructional assistant professor, said the watch party will give UM students a way to celebrate the Meek School’s two Miss America contestants. Refreshments and games will also be offered.

“When we first started talking about the Meek School sponsoring a watch party, it was to be sure that we honored the two Ole Miss contestants,” Hall said. “However, we did not want to compete with a campus-wide event. Therefore, we are encouraging our students and faculty to attend the SAA event.

“We are especially excited that the two contestants represent the Meek School. Miss Tennessee Christine Williams graduated in May as a broadcast journalism major. Asya Branch is a current IMC major.”

Hall said the Meek School’s Event Planning class will be conducting a fundraiser for the two contestants’ platforms as a way of recognizing and honoring them.

“Asya’s platform is Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents,” Hall said, “and Christine’s is the Alzheimer’s Association. We will be seeking donations to split between the two platforms.”

Hall said the class will use the hashtag:  #MeekMissAmerica. Donations can be made for one platform or the other, or both platforms. Donors will be given a “Team Christine” or “Team Asya” sticker to wear.

“What are the odds?” Hall said, that two Meek School students are in the pageant. “More seriously, I think this is just a further indication of the quality students we have in our Meek School programs.”

Miss University dreams of becoming Miss Mississippi, Miss America and a broadcast journalist

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi senior, also known as Miss University, is studying to become a broadcast journalist, but dreams of becoming Miss Mississippi and Miss America.

Leah Gibson grew up cheering, singing and doing community service work, such as working with the organization Teens for Jeans to collect 100 pairs of jeans for the charity.

Gibson was part of the broadcast journalism program in high school. As one of a five-member staff, she helped create a newscast during her lunch hour, and she became became a features writer for her high school newspaper in 10th grade.

Gibson tried several majors before deciding on journalism. She first considered studying to be a lawyer or psychologist until she thought about the time those degrees required.

Instead, she wanted to do something that allowed her to be more creative and didn’t want to sit behind a desk daily. Gibson soon realized she loved being in front of the camera, going out and getting stories, and finding different angles for stories that have been told thousands of times.

Before deciding what college she wanted to attend, she initially had Mississippi State University in mind until she met former Chancellor Robert C. Khayat in Washington, D.C. while she was a Al Neuharth Conference scholar. He convinced her to look into the Meek School of Journalism and New Media program, and she decided on UM based on information she received from each school.

Gibson said she loves the Ole Miss sense of unity. She believes Ole Miss accepts its past and that the community wants to move forward.

“Every time something bad happens in the media, Ole Miss faces it head on, puts together focus groups, put out new policies, and ensures that everyone feels safe,” she said.

Gibson has volunteered as a cheer coach for Upward Basketball and cheerleading in Oxford, and believes this has made her a stronger person. She said she liked the idea of sharing something she was passionate about with other girls and hopes they will participate in competitive cheer.

She also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club for a year and a half and started a mentoring program called GLAM squad. GLAM stands for Giving Learning Achieving Maturing, and focuses on teaching girls to accept who they are. She also focused on her pageant platform, highway safety.

Gibson has been active on campus for four years, but she is now involved with the Black Student Union, her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., being the Rebel Radio station manager, and fulfilling her duties as Miss University.

Some may wonder why Gibson wanted to be Miss University. It’s a dream she had many years ago. When she first began competing in competitions, they were small beauty reviews. She did the National American Miss Distinguishing Women Competition in high school, and did not win, but she wasn’t ready to give up.

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Gibson spends a lot of time in the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center.

Determined to win a title, her mother found the Outstanding Teen program within the Miss America organization. As a teen, Gibson placed within the Top 10 her first year, but soon realized she had aged out and could no longer compete because she was a graduating high school senior.

She then competed in Miss University and did not win, but her talent for singing did. She still felt like she wasn’t finished with competitions and went on to win Miss Meridian. She loves to compete because, for her, competitions are more than just pageants. She thinks about people from her hometown or little girls she might inspire in the process.

“You have to go through hurdles to get to where you’re trying to go for your ultimate goals to come to life,” she said. “I want people to remember me, not as someone who had potential, but as someone who always went after their biggest goals.”

What makes Gibson stand out? After working with her during the UM Apex leadership summit for rising high school seniors in 2012, Chad Knight said they didn’t talk much in college. However, they later both became orientation leaders and were Lucky Day residential community assistants.

A relationship formed, and he said Gibson is a vibrant individual, happy at all times, and has genuine care and concern for others. During her Miss University campaign, he watched her disconnect from everyone to focus, and that showed her passion and drive.

“Leah stands out from other Miss Universities in the past because of her drive and commitment to the title,” he said. “I believe she knows she is representing something bigger than herself. She is living up to the work of the title and not just the name.”

Gibson’s dream is to become Miss Mississippi, then Miss America. If that does not work out, she plans to take a year off after graduation and study abroad, because she believes traveling and culture is something you cannot teach, but something someone has to experience.

The author of this article, Lydazja Turner, 18, is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. Her dream is to become a radio host or vlogger. She has studied ballet most of her life and dabbles in yoga. Her schedule is packed with schoolwork and involvement in the Black Student Union. She wrote this story for a Journalism 102 class, and she is a writer for Oxford Stories. Read more stories about Oxford and North Mississippi people at OxfordStories.net.