July 17, 2022-
Hannah Grace Crain said she is looking forward to traveling Mississippi while sharing her story and love for her home state.
The 18-year-old from Hernando was crowned Mississippi Miss Hospitality 2022 on Saturday in the 73rd annual competition at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg. It is Hattiesburg’s 25th year as host of the event.
Crain will attend the University of Mississippi in the fall as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, working on her studies while serving as the state’s ambassador for economic development and tourism.
Although Crain has lived in Mississippi all her life, she would like to get to know her state better and see more outside the area where she lives.
“I’m looking forward to exploring the state more and possibly traveling outside the state to promote it,” she said. “I’m really excited about that.”
The daughter of Matt and Heather Crain, she plans to major in psychology and minor in intelligence and security studies to pursue a career as a federal agent and investigator.
Crain is a singer and 10-year member of the MidSouth Music Institute, based in Olive Branch. She sang with the children’s choir and will continue to sing in the adult choir.
She also sings in her church’s praise band and was involved in the youth group at the United Methodist Church in Hernando.
Crain said when she was considering her career path she thought of her favorite quote: “We all have a little ‘save the world’ in us.”
“That quote really inspired me and it reframed what I was thinking about what I wanted Midsouth Music Institute to do,” she said. “I believe that I have a skill set that is good for investigation. I’m very by-the-book, I’m very methodical, but I’m also very creative with my problem-solving. If I could change someone’s world … that would make all the difference to me.”
Crain worked on the student council at Hernando High School and was involved in planning student activities, including Interact Club, pep rallies and other student-led events. Interact Club is a service organization sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hernando.
“Party planning is a big hobby of mine,” she said.
Crain was one of 40 women between 18 and 24 who spent a week in Hattiesburg performing community service and getting to know each other in between competition events and rehearsals.
The competition included one-on-one and panel interviews, speeches, on-stage interviews and evening gown components.
“This week has been phenomenal,” Crain said in a news release. “I am so happy that I came out with this title, but I quickly turned to look at my fellow contestants because I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Serving alongside Crain at official events and appearances will be 9-year-old Callie Scruggs, as Mississippi’s Little Miss Hospitality. She is the daughter of Andrea Hinton and Ken Scruggs.
Crain was chosen from the top five contestants, which included first alternate Ellis Ann Jackson of Starkville; second alternate Aubree Dillon of Madison County; third alternate Katherine Bishop of Pike County; and fourth alternate Anna Kaitlyn Ashley of Magee.
In addition to the top winners, other awards were given throughout the competition.
Four women received the Jay Slaughter Memorial Scholarship for their 90-second speeches creatively showcasing the state’s history, tourism resources and business assets. Winners included Anna Kaitlyn Ashley of Magee; Aubree Dillon of Madison County; Ellis Ann Jackson of Starkville; and Rachel Shoemaker of Smith County.
Peyton Rounsaville of Greene County won the social media challenge, which began two months before competition week. Contestants shared posts on social media that highlighted their hometowns, the program’s sponsors and more.
Julia Johnson of Marion County received the Lake Little Spirit of Hospitality Award for her supportive, welcoming, and kind behavior throughout competition week. The winner is nominated and chosen each year by her peers. The award is named in memory of Lake Little of Starkville, who died before competition in 2019.
The top ad sales scholarship for generating the most community support for the state competition was awarded to Keaton Boyd of Walthall County, whose Little Miss Hospitality also sold ads.
The Southern Miss Image Center provides a scholarship for the Most Photogenic contestant each year. This year’s recipient is Carson Ward of Jasper County.
The 2022 Volunteer of the Year was Meridian, Lauderdale County, and Clarke County’s local director Penny Randall, who has served in shaping and supporting young women from the area for 10 years.
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