Mississippi College

Miss MC 2009 Pageant Winner Crowned

January 23, 2009

Jessica Terrill, the 2009 Miss Mississippi College Scholarship Pageant winner is a talented ballet dancer, future English teacher and daughter of the head football coach at Itawamba Community College.

Next stop for the MC freshman from Fulton is the Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg on July 18.

On Thursday evening, Terrill won over the judges and much of the audience at the annual pageant drawing hundreds to Swor Auditorium. To cap off the night, the 2008 Miss MC Morgan Byrd of Flowood crowned her successor. There were eight students competing for the title. Making her victory that much sweeter, Terrill takes home a $2,000 scholarship.

"The pageant here at MC is better than any pageant I've ever been in," Terrill said during an interview Friday at Nelson hall. "We've had so much fun. I made some real friendships," added the 18-year-old, a former student at Lovett Elementary School in Clinton. "If I didn't win, I would have been back next year" at the 2010 Miss MC Pageant.

Now it's full steam ahead to Miss Mississippi where she will be promoting her cause - to combat widespread illiteracy problems among youth in the Magnolia State.

Terrill, who began ballet lessons at age six, entered her first pageant in 1996 when she was a contestant for Miss Tiny Miss in Raymond. More recently, she was first alternate at the Miss Heritage and Miss Crossroads pageants in Corinth.

The Itawamba Agricultural High School graduate got prepared for the Miss MC pageant by keeping tuned to Fox News broadcasts to stay on top of the presidential election, the U.S. economic crisis and other breaking news. She danced as much as possible, took part in mock interviews and watched her diet.

Sponsored at the pageant by the Nenamoosha Social Tribe, Jessica is the daughter of Jeff and Jan Terrill. The past few years, her dad has enjoyed success as head football coach at ICC. Polls show the North Mississippi school ranked in the top 20 among two-year colleges nationwide for three of the last four seasons. Jessica grew up on football, first as her dad's "water girl," and her father's influence as a top-notch coach "made me more competitive."

A Noxubee County native, Jeff Terrill is a former defensive coordinator at Hinds Community College. While he worked on the Raymond campus, the Terrills lived in Clinton and attended First Baptist Church in Clinton from 1996 until 2002. Jeff Terrill was active in the college ministry at the church on College Street.

For his daughter, Jessica, the new Miss MC, "it is such a privilege and humbling experience to represent such an excellent Christian college in this manner," Jeff Terrill said Friday.

Her quest for a statewide pageant crown is next on her to-do list. Becoming Miss Mississippi "is a dream of hers her whole life," said the ICC football coach. "What an experience it will be."

Judges rated the contestants on such things as evening gown competition, on-stage interviews, and talent.

The first runner-up was MC junior Audrie Cirlot, a music major from Moss Point. She is the daughter of Steve and Tinell Cirlot. Cirlot was also voted Miss Congeniality. The second-runner-up was senior Ellyn Burton, a nursing major from Ellisville. She is the daughter of Stan and Sheree Burton. She sang the tune "If I Can Dream" at the pageant.

MC junior Ivana Kanengiser, 20, a marketing major and Pearl High graduate, received an award from the judges for her lifestyle and fitness. A lifeguard at the Baptist Healthplex and former Lady Choctaws soccer player, her cause is fighting childhood obesity. Ivana is the daughter of Andy and Sunuia Kanengiser. Her dad is MC's university news coordinator and her mother is an MC student. She danced to a number from the Broadway classic "Fiddler on the Roof."

Others competing included Kayla Thompson of Jackson. an MC junior and business administration major, Thompson was sponsored by the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She hopes to become an entrepreneur in the music or movie industry.

Also in the lineup of contestants: Ashlan DuBose, a sophomore and former member of the Lady Choctaws basketball team, She is a kinesiology/exercise science major from Round Rock, Texas. MC senior Jessica Daves, a communication major from Blackhawk, Miss., was sponsored by the MC Cheerleaders. Mary Margaret May, an MC junior from Jackson and member of the MC vocal ensemble Mixed Company, was sponsored by the Swannanoa Social Tribe.

During the 90-minute show, MC graduate and admissions counselor Jessica McNeil of Olive Branch and MC senior communication major Wesley Bonner of Quitman served as the pageant's hilarious emcees.

"I thought it was a spotless performance and I was very proud of the contestants," said Cam Armstrong, the show's director and coordinator of student activities at the Christian university in Clinton.

Photo: Jessica Terrill, Miss MC 2009 and Morgan Byrd, Miss MC 2008

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