Abby Church was crowned Miss University 2022 on Sunday night during the 73rd annual scholarship pageant.
Church is a junior psychology major with a pre-law track and also a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. After a special interview with judges, an on-stage interview, a talent competition and a red carpet competition, Church won the crown.
Church’s platform, “Positively Purpose,” focuses on empowering young people to have confidence in themselves for their future, especially in the professional workforce. “Positively Purpose” uses a podcast located on Spotify, a clothing competence organization and a body image 3D initiative to empower young women, and Church serves as its primary host.
“Basically, we’re empowering young people to develop the internal confidence that it takes to have external success,” she said. “The main three ways that we’re doing that is through a podcast, which I am the founder and host of, and it can be found on Spotify. We also have a clothing competence organization here on campus, which clothes women in interview attire and professional work clothes so that they can be successful after college. The third way that we’re really implementing ‘positively purpose’ is through a body image 3D initiative, where I am the head, and I am inspiring people with confidence, self-esteem and self-love in my everyday life.”
Every year, the winner of the Miss University pageant earns a spot in the Miss Mississippi competition in Vicksburg in July 2022, and this will be Church’s first Mississippi experience. This pageant also serves as Church’s first Miss America preliminary competition.
Church said she hopes to continue to grow her platform throughout the Miss Mississippi competition.
“I think if I was crowned Miss Mississippi, it would just be such a blessing because it would be given a bigger platform on which to expand my own platform and just expand that reach even more,” she said. “It would leave that lasting positive impact on even more people in the community and outside of Ole Miss and outside of Oxford, but the entire state of Mississippi, which would be a responsibility that I am more than prepared for and it would be such a great honor.”
The Student Activities Association’s pageant committee puts on this scholarship competition every year, with the exception of the previous year due to COVID-19. The committee does everything backstage, from making sure candidates are in the right place to choreographing the opening dance sequence.
“We do have to work with the Miss America organization to make sure we’re following all their regulations and guidelines,” senior nutrition major and SAA pageant committee co-director Mary Frances Buzhardt said. “Basically, as long as we’re following those, me and Sarah (one of the other co-directors) kind of just had free rein to choose everything like choreographing the opening number to deciding what the walking pattern was going to be, what the girls were going to wear and all that kind of stuff. Like all the little things that you don’t really think about going into a competition and then seeing it all play out.”
Church will receive $5,000 in scholarship money from the Miss America Scholarship Organization as she prepares for her debut in Vicksburg.