The University of Mississippi’s Student Activities Association hosted a watch party for the Miss America finale last night, as one Ole Miss alumna and one student were in the competition.
Both Miss Mississippi 2018 Asya Branch, a senior integrated marketing communications major, and Miss Tennessee 2018 Christine Williamson, a 2018 graduate, were eliminated and were not selected to advance to the top 15 last night.
Branch is from Booneville, and her platform is based on empowering children of incarcerated parents. Branch’s father, Anthony Branch, has been incarcerated since she was ten years old.
She was crowned Most Beautiful in the Student Activity Association’s 2018 Parade of Beauties and later competed as Miss Tupelo in the Miss Mississippi pageant, where she won the title.
“I think I wanted Asya to win just because she’s currently enrolled here,” said Dakin Reed, sophomore integrated marketing communications and art history major. “I like Asya’s charitable platform. I think it’s unique and special to her.”
Williamson represented Tennessee on the national stage Sunday night. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. Her platform is raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and funding research efforts to end the disease.
During her time at Ole Miss, Williamson was news anchor for NewsWatch Ole Miss.
In addition to the two women competing in the weekend pageant, a group of Ole Miss students traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey, last week to support Branch and watch the pageant in person.
“We got here Thursday afternoon, so it’s been a fun time so far,” senior managerial finance major Blair Wortsmith said.
Both Branch and Williamson received support not only from individuals but also via a fundraiser run through the Meek School of Journalism.
“We thought it was important to show our support for both of our Ole Miss girls … and their charitable platforms, and so we’re going to show our support through a fundraiser,” Reed said.
At the end of the night’s competition, Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was crowned Miss America 2019.