One Competition, two crowns. Announcing Miss PRCC 2023 and Miss Pearl River County 2023.

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November 11, 2022

Twelve ladies competed for the titles of Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County on Thursday, November 10 at the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts. Along with bringing poise and talent to the building, the candidates and audience celebrated the 101st anniversary of the Miss America competition. Savannah Faith Sylvest was crowned Miss PRCC 2023 and Britney Diaz was crowned Miss Pearl River County 2023.

Miss PRCC 2023 Savannah Faith Sylvest and Miss Pearl River County 2023 Britney Diaz

Mackenzie Brownlee was selected as the first alternate. Avery Workman was chosen as the second alternate as well as winning the talent competition. Other award winners that evening included Laken Smith for most ad sales, Hannah Bennett for the social media challenge, Michelle Bolland for Miss Congeniality, and Diaz for interview.

PRCC’s Director of Marketing & Recruitment Kari Eve Valence took the helm as master of ceremonies. Valence shared a brief history of the Miss America competition, including the shift to a scholarship program in the 1940s. The winner of the Miss PRCC competition receives a full-year scholarship. The winner of the new Miss Pearl River County receives a half-tuition scholarship.

Before the public component of the competition began, Miss PRCC 2022 Hannah Smith expressed her gratitude for the opportunity her reign as Miss PRCC provided. She then showcased her talent, dancing to “You Are My Sunshine” in honor of her mother.

Judges for this year’s competition included Honorable Brad Touchstone of Sumrall, Mr. Carl Thomas of Hattiesburg, Mrs. Melanie Bishop of Summit, Mrs. Missy Segreti of Slidell, and Mrs. Stacey Niemeyer of Hattiesburg. Candidates were judged on four categories including a private interview earlier in the afternoon, an on-stage interview, poise in an evening gown portion of the competition, plus their social impact statement, and talent.

Between the different portions of the evening, Sunni’s Elite Dance Academy of Poplarville entertained the audience with several different dance numbers performed by the teams of talented dancers and future Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County competitors.

In addition to the scholarships awarded to Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County, the winners will receive wardrobe and accessories to wear at Miss Mississippi next June sponsored by our wonderful and amazing sponsors: Apple’s Ltd. In Poplarville, Coral Cactus Boutique online in Hattiesburg, Delta Dawn Gifts in Poplarville, and our new additional sponsor this year, Posh Boutique in Poplarville. Each winner also receives $750 cash towards her competition at Miss Mississippi.

“Our goal as a committee is to make sure each girl has everything she needs to just have fun at Miss Mississippi and focus on her goals there growing in her best self,” said Director of Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County Lauren Baker. “It is a pleasure to be a small part of their journeys and opportunities that are helped shaped by being involved in this competition.”

THE CANDIDATES

Twelve young women in evening gowns stand in a line with a balloon arch behind them.
Contestants (Left to Right): Kelsey Graves, Lily Boyd, Peyton Barber, Bailey Craft, Laken Smith, Mackenzie Brownlee, Miss PRCC 2023 Savannah Faith Sylvest, Miss Pearl River County 2023 Britney Diaz, Avery Workman, Michelle Boland, Hannah Bennett, and Emma Evans.

Peyton Barber of Poplarville promoted communities for a cause and showcased her musical talent by playing “Oceans” by Lauren Daigle on piano. She is a student in the business program.

Hannah Bennett of Carriere chose promoting kindness for her social impact. She danced to “Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley for her talent. She is in the nursing program.

Michelle Boland of Picayune addressed the need to break down barriers for women in a male dominant workplace. She played “Dixieland Medley” on clarinet for her talent. Boland is in the Drafting & Design Technology program.

Lily Boyd of Picayune promoted the need for awareness of learning disabilities in education. She did a tap dance to “Popular” from Wicked for her talent. She is in the Drafting & Design Technology program.

Mackenzie Brownlee of Gulfport had the social impact platform of Teachers Matter Too TM2. She sang the song “Anyway” by Martina McBride for her talent. Brownlee is studying to become a respiratory therapist.

Bailey Craft of Picayune promoted helping the homeless for her social impact platform. She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland for her talent. Craft is pursuing a degree in nursing.

Brittany Diaz of Hattiesburg shared her desire to help past foster children find success through Fostering Family, Fostering Opportunity. Her talent was a self-authored monologue titled “Through the Work of Our Hands.” Her career goal is to become an occupational therapy assistant.

Emma Evans of Carriere promoted overdose and substance abuse awareness for her social impact platform. Her talent was the spoken word, “Importance of Education.” She is studying to become a radiologist.

Kelsey Graves of Taylorsville focused on how life skills matter for her social impact. Her talent was the spoken word as she recited “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou. She is studying to become a nurse.

Laken Smith of Poplarville put forth the “Helping Hand Project” for her social impact. For her talent, she danced to “Battlefield” by Svrcina. Her goal is to enter the field of elementary education.

Savannah Faith Sylvest of Sumrall is majoring in English and literature. Her social impact was focused on how “Every BODY is beautiful.” She danced to the song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion for the talent portion.

Avery Workman of Abita Springs, Louisiana promoted mental health in our veterans for her social impact. Her talent was a dance to “Helium” by Sia. She is studying to become a nurse.

The newly crowned Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County will begin their reigns immediately and will represent Pearl River at the Miss Mississippi Competition in Vicksburg in June. Miss PRCC and Miss Pearl River County are preliminary competitions to the Miss Mississippi and Miss America scholarship programs.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG). 

Article by Laura O’Neill
Photography by Jacob Cochran.