Kaelyn Wolfe to Compete for the Miss Mississippi Title
It’s her first and last chance at achieving her goal of becoming the next Miss Mississippi.
Kaelyn Wolfe, formerly of Picayune, is in Vicksburg this week competing alongside 43 other women for the Miss Mississippi title.
The 23-year-old was crowned Miss University of Southern Mississippi in October of last year and is actually considered “old” by most in the pageant world.
“I think a lot of people think it’s strange that I waited so long because you do age out at 24, so this is my first and last chance to go to Miss Mississippi,” Wolfe said. “So I think a lot of girls are like ‘wow you’re kinda old’ because a lot of them are around 18 and 19 year old.”
Wolfe, the daughter of Debbie Wright Wolfe, former longtime show choir director at Pearl River Central, and the late Jeffrey Lynn Wolfe, was given the Pearl River County’s Distinguished Young Woman award in 2012 and finished in the top 10 in the statewide event. But after experiencing the loss of her father, Wolfe felt the need to take a step back before attempting other competitions.
“I really wanted to wait ‘til I was in a really good place, mentally and physically, to give it all that I have. I just didn’t feel that way after my dad passed away. It just wasn’t a good time for me to compete and put myself out there,” Wolfe said. “If I would have competed before now I wouldn’t have been as comfortable in my skin as I am right now. I think it took me a long time to figure out who I was and what I care about and how to show that to others.”
One thing Wolfe cares about is her Mental Health platform, which she has pushed passionately during her time as Miss Southern Miss. From creating safe open forums for college students to speaking with legislators in Jackson about Mental Health, Wolfe has forged a campaign to normalize the mental health conversation in Mississippi. Wolfe explained that the platform is one she has a personal connection to and will continue her efforts on a state level if crowned Miss Mississippi.
“About a year after my dad passed away I was diagnosed with depression. I didn’t tell anyone, not my mom or my friends, I just silently dealt with it,” Wolfe said. “Then while doing research in grad school about mental health and college students and I discovered that about 75% of college students have a mental illness and don’t seek care. Once I realized I was part of that statistic it really made me feel burdened to speak out about that.”
The eight months since being crowned Miss Southern Miss have been a whirlwind for Wolfe. While finishing up her bachelor’s degree in communications, starting grad school, and working for her platform, she has also had to prep for the now present Miss Mississippi competition.
Preparing for a state level competition, like Miss Mississippi, can quickly become a fulltime job for most of these young ladies. Wolfe explained that with two separate interview coaches, walking practice, talent practice, and personal fitness she has spent no less than 40 hours a week honing her skills.
“Honestly I give like five to six hours a day to preparing, so basically a work week,” Wolfe said. “It’s really everything, especially the last month of preparation you are hitting every single phase every single day.”
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a conversation with the personable beauty it’ll come as no surprise that her favorite part of competing is the the Interview portion.
“Even in my DYW days it was Interview. A lot of people are like that’s so nerve wracking that’s so weird, but that phase of the competition has pushed me the most in having to really form an opinion on a lot of different subjects and topics,” Wolfe said. “It’s also my favorite time to get to know the judges it’s 10 minutes just you and the judges. You get to share with them whatever you want to share. I’ll get to speak about my platform with them, tell them my life experiences and stories. I think it’s good I get to show them my heart and who I am and what I care about.”
For the talent portion of the competition this week in Vicksburg, Wolfe, who has studied dance for 17 years, will be performing a tap dance to “Great Balls of Fire.”
“Dancing on the stage is really where I feel the most comfortable,” Wolfe said. “I’m really excited about my talent for this. It’s just a super upbeat song, Jerry Lee Lewis wrote it in the 60s, so I threw some 60s stylistic moves in there and my costume has some flames on it. I’m just super excited.”
Preliminary rounds of the competition begin Wednesday night with Swimsuit, followed by talent on Thursday night, then evening gown and onstage question Friday night and the top ten will be announced on Saturday for the big finale.
Since arriving in Vicksburg on Saturday, Wolfe’s schedule has been packed full of rehearsals, autograph sessions and finishing touches. She also rode in the Miss Mississippi parade along with 25 former Miss Mississippi's in downtown Vicksburg Monday night.
After her interview with the judges Tuesday morning, the preliminary rounds will begin Wednesday night with swimsuit, talent on Thursday night, evening gown and onstage question on Friday followed by the finale on Saturday night, where only the top ten will continue on.
The contestants have just ten minutes to persuade the panel of judges they are the best person for the job of Miss Mississippi 2017.
“I think the biggest thing that Miss Mississippi needs to be is relatable I don’t have plans to go in there and put on this façade of this girl who just has it all together all the time because that’s unrealistic for anybody so I really want to show them that I am the right person because I’m just normal I’m just me I think Miss Mississippi is something that should be viewed as achievable and obtainable to all the young girls in the state no matter what they have faced.”