She Wears the Crown

The lights dim as you grasp the hands of your fellow contestants. This is the moment that you all have been waiting for. The hours of preparation and countless rehearsals all culminate to this moment. For an instant, it seems as if time has stopped. The silence

is deafening, yet it ends abruptly with thunderous applause as you hear the words: “You are the next Miss University of Mobile!”

In that moment, a young woman knows her life is about to change forever.

The Miss University of Mobile competition is one of the university’s most cherished traditions that embodies community and servant leadership. This title means so much more than a dazzling crown or a chance to
be in the spotlight. Wearing the crown gives each young woman the opportunity to make a difference and leave an impact that will last a lifetime.

“Not only is the Miss University of Mobile program a way for young ladies to represent and serve their student body and the university as a whole, but it’s also an incredible chance for these women to come together, celebrate one another, and grow
in their God-given giftings and talents. So often, I have the pleasure of walking alongside these young ladies from commitment date to program date, encouraging them to become the best version of themselves and push the boundaries of their perceived limitations. In those moments, that’s where you find the importance of a program such as this. It’s so much bigger than placing a crown on someone’s head. It can truly be a life-altering experience for those involved.”

– Hannah Clardy ’19 & ’22, Director of Miss UM

Since Sally Holmes was crowned the first Miss Mobile College in 1965, titleholders have become news anchors, teachers, journalists, managers, missionaries and more.

Each lady took the lessons that wearing the crown taught them and built upon that in their own lives.

The Heart of Miss University of Mobile Stays Constant

In 58 years, the Miss University of Mobile program has gone through many changes. However, the values of Miss UM remain constant.

At its inception, titleholders were crowned as the result of a student vote instead of a panel of judges. Now many years later, the woman wearing the crown is selected by a panel of five judges. Miss University of Mobile has also been a preliminary for the Miss Alabama competition. Now, each lady has the choice whether she would like to pursue that route or stay more local in the ways that she serves.

Joannie Munger Glisson, Miss Mobile College ’72, says, “One thing that remains constant is the search for a person who sets a positive example for the community, remains strong in her faith, loves UM, and encourages others to attend. One of the many responsibilities Miss UM demonstrates is the support she continues to give to the mission of UM, which is to provide not only a quality education to all students but to promote a Christ-based foundation for them as well.”

Both Miss University of Mobile and Miss Mobile College needed to have a heart for serving and ministering to people. In hearing from former titleholders, this is exactly the kind of people who gained the opportunity to wear the crown.

The Women Who Wore the Crown

“My favorite thing to do as Miss Mobile College was mentor and invest in younger girls and to get the chance to walk alongside them through the gospel. This is something I still do to this day with younger women in the ministry or those preparing for ministry. Life is hard in this broken world we live in, and we all need someone we can completely trust and who can encourage us to keep running the race. I want to be that person for those who feel they have no one.” – Lori Gaston Haight, ’92, Last Miss Mobile College, Ministry

“Lessons I learned from being Miss UM were things like learning to interview, which has served me well countless times. Also, I learned to speak publicly and to be winsome on matters of importance. I learned that serving others with intentionality ministered to my soul and still does to this very day.” – Christy Wynn Williams, ’04, Local Missionary

“Since I participated in the Miss University of Mobile pageant, I have only grown in my confidence more and more daily! Miss University of Mobile was one of the first things I did that was truly nerve-wracking as it was out of my comfort zone. It challenged me to face fear head-on! Now, I am living in Paris, France working an international career in marketing. I am so grateful for my experience!” – Ember Langley, ’13, Marketing

“Being Miss UM was exactly what I needed to come into my own personality. It was the catalyst that showed me my own strengths: hospitality, engagement, and communication!” – Brooke Sanders, ’14, Social Worker

“Serving as Miss UM was one of my greatest gifts. The relationships made and the opportunities granted were nothing short of a blessing. The University of Mobile is a special place that holds kindness and love, and I will forever be grateful for the time I had to represent the university.” – Chelsey Sayasane Sklopan, ’17, Co-host to Studio10 and Fox10 Midday

“The true significance of wearing the crown is hard to put into words. In the end, I was forever changed. I walked away taller and more connected to the calling that the Lord placed on my life! Without this organization, I would not be the woman I am today.” – Raven Young Casey, ’19, Teacher

“As Miss UM, I learned what it meant to seize every moment to shine the light of Jesus, realizing that I was simply a vessel for Him. I learned how to listen to others, show compassion and stand for something much greater than myself. Now that I’ve traded my crown for a microphone, my purpose remains the same – to reflect the good news of the gospel in a dark and broken world and, through storytelling, bring hope to those around me!” – Ashlyn Nichols Mitchell, ’22, Multi-media journalist

“The best part about being Miss UM was the chance to see the different sides of the university. I got
to meet people and minister to people that I never would have gotten to, and even though I am no longer wearing the crown, opportunities still present themselves to me. Also, I am getting my master’s for free because of the Miss UM association, so I am forever indebted to this organization!” – Michaella Johnson, ’23, UM Enrollment Counselor

A full list of titleholders is available at umobile.edu/missum.

Miss UM Legacy Scholarship

The Miss UM organization has awarded over $250,000 in tuition benefits during its 58 years. A way to further the next generation of Miss University of Mobiles is to give to the Miss UM Legacy scholarship.

The Miss UM Board of Directors and prior title holders are working to increase scholarship opportunities through the new Miss University of Mobile Legacy Scholarship. This award provides cash scholarships for Miss University of Mobile to help offset educational expenses. Previous Miss University of Mobile and Miss

Mobile College title holders are invited to pledge a variation of their title year annually toward the award for the next Miss UM. Those who wish to support the program are encouraged to donate as well. To give, visit umobile.edu/missum.

Making a Difference

Not only do former crown-wearers understand the impact of this legacy, but current Miss University of Mobile AnnaKatherine Bell knows this privilege is one that will shape her future. It also gives her a unique platform to shape the future at UM.

“Gaining the title of Miss UM 2024 gives you access to meeting all sorts of different people from various walks of life. God has used this for me to be able to minister to people in the community in ways that I would have never been able to,” she says.

One of those ways is her initiative, “The Growth Project,” that aims to create a daylily garden in partnership with The Legacy Fountain Courtyard Brick Campaign.

The Legacy that Lasts a Lifetime

Wearing the crown is no simple task. As the current and former titleholders look back on their legacy and all the hard work that they have put into this organization, what stands out is not the crown atop their head or the sash around their waist. What stands out to them are the experiences they gained and the people they met through this program.

Each young woman used the opportunity as a selfless way to serve greater matters. Whether it be through leading spiritually, or becoming more confident, each titleholder sought out how to encourage the hearts of students at UM. Ultimately, each leading lady learned that wearing the Miss University of Mobile crown was less about donning a sparkly tiara, but more about learning how to wear their eternal crown.

About the Author

Molly Grace Watkins

Molly Grace Watkins is the Content Creator for the Office for Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Mobile. She is a full-time student in the College of Arts and Sciences, where she is pursuing a degree in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Broadcasting. A published author, Molly Grace loves writing and being in front of the camera. She is an active member and volunteer at Cottage Hill Baptist Church. She also enjoys listening to music, going on long walks and driving her friends around in her blue MINI Cooper.

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