Distinguished Through the Decades: 1991, Amanda (Ray) Rushing
Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades
Today Amanda (Ray) Rushing is wife to Heath and mother of four. In 1991, she was representing Franklin County as Junior Miss.
“At that time in high school, you are looking to the future: What are your goals, and how you can make them happen?” Rushing said. Although that question might be a bit nebulous and hard to pin down, for Rushing, the answer was simple: compete in Junior Miss. “Scholarship opportunities while doing something you enjoy made it a pretty easy choice.”
The Russellville High School student was constantly busy with something, as a Marching Hundred majorette, a HOBY representative and a member of Student Council, Mu Alpha Theta, RHS Singers, annual staff and her church youth group and choir – “just to name a few,” Rushing said. She was also on the Homecoming Court and was named Miss RHS 1991.
For Rushing, the best part of Junior Miss was “making friends from other cities, within Franklin County and when I participated in the state program.”
“Learning and rehearsing for all the group performances was my favorite experience,” Rushing said, noting “lots of laughter” was the order of the day.
She also treasures fond memories of her performance for the talent component of the competition. “I did musical theatre: ‘On My Own’ from the Broadway play, ‘Les Misérables.’ My voice coach suggested it,” Rushing said. “I used to get very nervous performing, but this piece was enjoyable. It probably didn’t hurt that we all had made friends and were supporting each other.”
Rushing’s positive experience was, however, tinged with unique heartache. “I do remember it was during Desert Storm, and once we heard the news, it was very stressful for the participants who had friends and family who were involved,” she said. “I think that brought us all a lot closer.”
After high school Rushing attended Mississippi State University on a band scholarship. She was an MSU majorette and served as head one year. She also pledged Phi Mu sorority and “enjoyed all that campus life had to offer. Go State!”
She earned her accounting degree from Southern Miss, and her professional career has spanned from working in the audit division of Arthur Andersen in New Orleans to serving as a religion teacher in her children’s school. “With four children, you are always at school, so I guess they just hired me,” Rushing joked.
“We have enjoyed supporting our children in their education, sports, school and community activities,” she added. “Good thing we love to travel because they have settled all over the country. Who knows where this last one will go.”
On the whole, Rushing said she remembers Junior Miss as an experience that broadened her outlook in life. “I would encourage young women to not be afraid to participate in DYW,” she said. “Franklin Country is a great place to grow up, and I have always enjoyed sharing that with the people I meet. I would encourage them to take advantage of all aspects of high school, support their communities and reach out even further to learn about others and how they live. Junior Miss/DYW helped to do that for me my senior year at RHS.”