If Bradford Stewart could be any type of bread, she would be a salted pretzel with a side mustard. She said that pretzels are her favorite food to order at concession stands and they’re always fun and exciting.
Homecoming queen, senior Bradford Stewart, held her chin high to keep her crown from falling after winning the election on Sept. 23. Stewart said she felt at peace walking up to the Lyceum stairs waiting on the results. However, peace quickly turned to joy after hearing she was the winner.
“Oh my gosh, this isn’t real. I feel like I’m dreaming. I remember walking back and talking to Kenzee (the homecoming king) and being like, ‘Kenzee, I need you to pinch me. This isn’t real,’” Stewart said.
Even as a Birmingham, Alabama, native, Stewart remembers always shouting “Hotty Toddy” instead of “Roll Tide.”
“I just always loved Ole Miss. I loved the campus, the Grove, the people that I met that were already here,” Stewart said. “It was definitely stepping outside of the Alabama-Auburn bubble and doing something different, but at the same time having the comfort of family.”
Family seems to be an invisible string that binds Stewart together. Stewart has a line of Ole Miss Alumni in her family, starting from her parents to her two sisters.
Family is so important to Stewart that with her sisters, she started a fashion blog called Poema, which is Spanish for poem. Stewart said that the fashion blog’s name was inspired by the bible verse Ephesians 2:10 — “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Although Stewart is majoring in integrated marketing communications, her dream is to turn the fashion blog into a clothing store with her sisters.
On top of Poema, Stewart is involved in the Rebelettes and The Grove Retreat, which her older sister started when she attended Ole Miss. The Grove Retreat is a Christian-based student organization that welcomes incoming freshmen to Oxford. Stewart held the position of Director of Public Relations this past August. Stewart is also in the Tri Delta sorority, where she currently holds the position of membership experience chair, which handles recruitment and new member education. She is also in a few honor societies.
This past spring, Stewart was nominated by her sorority to run for homecoming queen. After many prayers and conversations with family and friends, Stewart decided that running was a good idea.
“I’m doing this for every single person that I’ve met on this campus and not for me, like I want to represent them well and be somebody that they want to be their homecoming queen,” Stewart said.
From day one, she hit the ground running: Excel spreadsheets, campaign ideas, finding campaign managers, social media content, slogans, stickers and networking.
With all these responsibilities, Stewart said she still found time to attend to all of her other responsibilities and bring a bright light to the people who have supported her through this whole process, despite the exhaustion that comes from campaigning.
“I wanted to be there for the people that I knew were standing by my side so I would just constantly be going,” Stewart said.
“Brighter with Bradford,” her slogan for the campaign trail, truly encapsulates Stewart as a person.
“I think one thing that going back to what Ole Miss has taught me is it’s taught me like where my strengths and weaknesses are,” Stewart said. “One thing that I’ve come to find out is that my strengths are being joyful and encouraging to people. I definitely have lots of weaknesses, so not discrediting the fact that I do have weaknesses. I wanted to come up with something that was different and just new and unique.”
After the slogan was decided, Stewart started designing the stickers and came up with a graphic that incorporated sunshine with colors of powder blue, orange and yellow.
Stewart said she would not have been able to win if it wasn’t for her phenomenal team.
“I truly couldn’t have done this without Scout Hodges, Greg Vance, Evan Raines and Drew Scott,” Stewart said. “Their constant encouragement throughout the two weeks of campaigning, so a huge ‘thank you’ to them because I would not be where I am without them.”
Hodges, one of Stewart’s campaign managers, said it was a joy to work with Stewart for the run to homecoming queen.
“She has impacted so many people in so many corners of the campus, and they all really showed up to support her,” Hodges said. “She truly is one of the hardest workers I know and is so great at pouring into those she works with. It brought us so much closer and I’m so grateful to have worked with a candidate as amazing as she is.”
Within the upcoming week, Stewart has a lot on her plate. From reading books to children, ice cream bars, photoshoots with alumni, double-decker bus tours and riding in the homecoming parade, Stewart said she’s so grateful to have this opportunity to connect with so many people in the Ole Miss and Oxford community.
Stewart accredits her authenticity and success to Ole Miss.
“One thing that this university has taught me, or really shown me throughout my four years here, or three years here is like who I truly am,” Stewart said. “It’s challenged me and it’s really pushed me and given me different opportunities and experiences, friendships and people that I know are going to be in my life forever.”
Ole Miss has not only brought Stewart knowledge and education, but close friends and support systems. As she enters her final year at Ole Miss, she offers students this piece of advice.
“I’ve loved getting involved in different organizations across campus that have brought me so many amazing friendships and memories,” Stewart said. “Without the encouragement from those friendships, I wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things I’ve been involved in my last three years.”