From high school dropout to college standout, Ole Miss journalism student Andrea Hightower didn’t find her academic success the traditional way. In overcoming this feat, her goal-getter spirit was ignited.
One goal she wants to accomplish is bringing home the title of Miss Collegiate America. The competition will be held Monday, June 18 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hightower moved to Oxford 11 years ago from Houston, Texas. As a high school student, she never dreamt of participating in beauty competitions because she considered herself a tomboy and athlete.
As a member of Oxford High School’s band, Hightower was dared by her band director to participate in Parade of Beauties—a charity competition that raises money for the band.
“I did [the pageant] and I fell in love with it,” she said.
Hightower never planned to continue in the pageant world after high school, but former pageant director Angel Smith, a former Miss Mississippi U.S.A., prepared her for other beauty pageants. She went on to win Miss Mississippi Teen U.S.A.
Hightower befriended Susan May, owner of Susan’s Shoppe in Brookhaven, Mississippi and former director of the Miss Mississippi Collegiate America competition, who advised Hightower to compete to represent Mississippi in the Miss Collegiate America competition.
As a fierce proponent of education, Hightower wants to use the title of Miss Collegiate America as an opportunity to educate high school seniors about the importance of attending college or trade school.
“I would love to travel and inspire these young men and women to continue [their education] because I never thought I would make it to college,” she said.
Hightower is hoping to make it into the top five so she can voice her charity work, charisma and personality. The top five contestants enter the “question round” where each participant is asked one question.
“It’s my chance to show the audience why I am [competing],” she said.
Hightower said negativity has consistently surrounded the pageant world instead of highlighting the good each pageant does for the community.
“The only time people look at pageants is when a girl failed her on-stage question,” she said. “It should be more publicized for the good.”
She said the Miss Collegiate America system is based solely on charity work and giving back to the community.
Hightower has participated with several community service organizations including animal rescues and prom dress drives.
After Hurricane Harvey struck the city of Houston, Hightower helped organize three U-Haul trucks to deliver supplies to the community.
For more information on the pageant, visit The Miss Collegiate America Pageant.
By Talbert Toole, lifestyles editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.