Only a small portion of young ladies gets the opportunity to participate in pageants. Even fewer get the chance to win, wear a pretty crown and move on to the next stage after each round. For Hannah Roberts, this was not only a dream but one she made come true in being crowned as the 59th Miss Mississippi during the 2015 Miss Mississippi pageant in Vicksburg on June 27.
Before fulfilling her dream, Roberts won twice in the preliminary competition for talent and swimwear, motivating her to leave quite an impression on the pageant judges in the final competition, much like she does with her friends, professors and administrators at Southern Miss.
However, the Sumrall, Mississippi native is not your stereotypical beauty queen. While serving as a two-time winner of the Miss University of Southern Mississippi crown, Roberts also graduated with summa cum laude distinction from the Southern Miss Honors College, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a minor in biology.
With science as her favorite subject, Roberts said it is her ultimate goal to become a doctor.
“Other than a short-lived dream of being a dolphin trainer, I have always wanted to be a doctor,” Roberts said. “ I have always loved science because it isn’t just one subject and it encompasses so many distinct disciplines and areas.”
After first winning the title of Miss Southern Miss in 2013, Roberts took a year off to take the qualifying exam for medical school. Then, this year, she won the title again and received her acceptance to medical school, getting the best of both worlds by showcasing her ambition, academic excellence and poise.
As a part of her winning Miss Mississippi, Roberts received a $10,000 scholarship, one of many reasons she enjoys competing in pageants.
“ I innately enjoy competition and growing as a person,” Roberts said. Pageants help accomplish that and the scholarship opportunities are great as well.”
Roberts credited her parents and family for playing a huge role in the success she has witnessed in her life.
“They have always been a huge part of my life,” Roberts said. “They influence me to just be my best, whether or not that involves pageants.”
“ I competed in small, elementary school pageants as a child, “ Roberts said. “ However, before Miss USM in 2013, I had only competed in Junior Miss, now recognized as Distinguished Young Women. “
Beyond wearing crowns or becoming the next top-notch plastic surgeon after medical school, Roberts was involved in numerous activities at Southern Miss and in the community such as 4-H Shooting sports, Beta Club, Spirit Girls of Forest General, Kappa Delta Sorority, Eagle Connection, Golden Eagle Welcome Week and USM Junior Symphony Orchestra.
While playing the violin for her talent in the pageant, the classical violinist said it’s been a love of hers for a very long time.
“I have been playing since I was five, so for about 17 years and I chose the instrument while watching the Nutcracker in Jackson,” Roberts said. “ I was in ballet as a child, but instead of watching the ballerinas, I was fascinated by the orchestra pit. My favorite piece is Cinema Paradiso.”
Despite the glitz and glam of competing in pageants or excelling in all of her other endeavors, Roberts has not always had the picture perfect life. The 22-year-old crown holder opened up about being bullied as a child.
“During elementary and middle school, and even as an adult, I struggled to deal with bullies,” Roberts said. “I consider my biggest failure in life to be avoiding these problems and running away from them.”
However, Roberts said now she has realized how to handle bullies and take on challenges head-on.
“I am most scared of not meeting my own expectations for the future, such as obtaining a great residency and becoming a renowned plastic surgeon,” Roberts said. “ I constantly remind myself that we can only go through life one day at a time. As my dad says, it’s like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.”
While Roberts has many goals set before her, her current focus is starting her term as Miss Mississippi and getting ready to compete in Miss America 2015.
“Whoever wins this title holds a powerful influence for so many other individuals,” Roberts said. Winning this title would be a culmination of all of my hard work and preparation over the years.”