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MARTIN, Tenn. – Brenna Wilkins, of Union City, and Laura Ann Higgs, of Toone, claimed the

Miss University of Tennessee at Martin and Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival crowns,

respectively, during the combined scholarship pageant Nov. 13 in the UT Martin Boling

University Center.

Wilkins, a sophomore social work major at UT Martin, performed the vocal selection “Unlove

You,” by Jennifer Nettles, as her onstage talent. She will use her reign as Miss UT Martin to

support a platform on depression and suicide awareness on college campuses. Wilkins plans to

finish her bachelor’s degree at UT Martin before earning a master’s degree and working in the

social work field promoting children’s welfare.

Higgs is a junior at Middle Tennessee State University where she is studying child development

and family studies. She plans to become a certified child life specialist after graduation and

obtain a master’s degree in child life studies. During her year as Miss Tennessee Soybean

Festival, Higgs will promote a platform called “Team Mica: Suicide Awareness and Prevention.”

Her jazz dance was unique among the evening’s talent performances.

Only current full-time UT Martin students could compete for the Miss UT Martin crown. Those

competing for the Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival title must be West Tennessee residents or

enrolled as students in West Tennessee, but did not have to be UT Martin students. Both young

women will advance to the statewide Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant, held at the Carl

Perkins Civic Center in Jackson each June.

Both Wilkins and Higgs have competed in pageants before, although this is Wilkins’ first

experience with a Miss Tennessee preliminary pageant. “My first plan is to hit the gym quite a

few times and work on better stage presence,” she said, of preparing for the state competition.

Higgs competed for the Miss Tennessee crown last year as Miss Queen City. “I’m super excited

to represent Martin and the soybean festival and go back again this year,” she said. She plans to take a holistic approach to her pageant preparations in hopes of taking home the crown.

The title of Miss Tennessee is a full-time, yearlong position as Gov. Bill Haslam’s official

spokesperson for character education and as an ambassador for Tennessee’s Children’s Miracle

Network hospitals. The winner of the Miss Tennessee title will advance to the Miss America

Scholarship Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., for a chance to serve as Miss America 2018.

Miss UT Martin’s court included UT Martin students Amanda Mayo, of Lawrenceville, Ga., as

first maid, and Morgan Martin, of Union City, as second maid. Miss Tennessee Soybean

Festival’s court included Hannah Minear, of Atoka, as first maid, and Mallory Tidwell, of

Bradford, as second maid.

For more information on the Miss UT Martin or Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival scholarship

pageants, contact Katrina Cobb, pageant director, at kcobb@wljt.org.

BOTH COURTS: Pictured are (l-r) Morgan Martin, of Union City (second maid, Miss UT

Martin); Amanda Mayo, of Lawrenceville, Ga. (first maid, Miss UT Martin); Brenna Wilkins, of

Union City (Miss UT Martin); Laura Ann Higgs, of Toone (Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival);

Hannah Minear, of Atoka (first maid, Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival); and Mallory Tidwell,

of Bradford (second maid, Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival).


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