McCarty, Cleveland ready for state pageant
By By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 14, 2002
Although Rebecca McCarty and Cassie Cleveland don't know each other, they have one thing in common: They will represent East Mississippi this month in the Mississippi Miss Hospitality pageant.
McCarty was chosen as Meridian and Lauderdale County's official goodwill ambassador in March at Merrehope. Cleveland was recently named Newton County Miss Hospitality by officials from the Newton County Chamber of Commerce.
This was the first time McCarty had participated in such a pageant and she said she is excited to have been chosen. Sandy Bynum, executive director of the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau, agreed.
McCarty has appeared at ribbon cuttings, helped at the Mississippi Welcome Center in Toomsuba and interned in the media operations center at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson.
McCarty, 19, is a 2000 graduate of Meridian High School. She will be a junior at Mississippi College in the fall, where she is majoring in business administration.
She is the daughter of Van and Robin McCarty of Meridian.
Cleveland said she, too, finds it an honor to serve as Newton County's Miss Hospitality. The lifelong Newton resident said she is "looking forward to it, because I like being around different people."
Cleveland, 18, is a 2002 graduate of Newton County Academy. In addition to preparing for the state pageant, she is looking forward to her first year at East Central Community College.
Cleveland, the daughter of David and Cora May Cleveland, attends Newton Christian Church.
The girls will compete July 26 and 27 against 34 other contestants from across the state for $100,000 in scholarships, prizes and the title of Mississippi's Miss Hospitality 2002
During their week-long stay in Hattiesburg, McCarty and Cleveland will rehearse for the state pageant and participate in several interviews with pageant judges.
In their first judges' interview, both will give a 90-second speech on "How I Would Best Promote Mississippi to a Tourist."
During the first night of competition on July 26, they will give a 20-second speech on "My Hometown" followed by a evening gown competition, where the contestants are judged on presence and composure.
In preparation for her speech Cleveland said she has been reading up on the history of Newton County.
The following night, the field will be narrowed to the top 10. The girls compete in presence and composure and are asked a question that could be about world affairs, their hopes and their dreams.