Senior wins national title, scholarship

Morgan Ann Mathis receives her national title and crown from America’s National Teenager Scholarship Organization in July. She represented her home state, Tennessee.

Over the summer, senior Morgan Ann Mathis spent a week preparing for a national title, where she won the crown.

Mathis was a contestant in the the Americaís National Teenager Scholarship Organization during the final week in July, and she walked away a winner.

Mathis said she started competing in pageants when she was a sophomore in high school after receiving an email from National American Miss.

“I’m from a very small town, so I kind of just wanted to break away from being stuck there,” Mathis said.

In her first pageant, she placed third runner-up out of 70 other girls and decided she could compete at the national level.

Mathis said she competed at the national level for five years, but never placed until this year, where she won first place in the Americaís National Teenager Scholarship Organization. She competed against 49 other girls, one from every state.

To represent your state in a national competition, you first had to win a state title, and she represented her home state, Tennessee, she said.

This particular pageant was not centered on gowns and swimsuits, Mathis said.

“There was 70 percent (of the pageant) that was academics, community service and interview and an on-stage question,” Mathis said.

It didnít just focus on the girlsí outer appearance. Itís about the girl herself, her personality and acts of service, she said.

“I donít think I really had to prepare for that because I do it throughout the year,” Mathis said. “Special Olympics is my platform. My mom is a special-ed teacher, so I’ve always been involved with that, since I was little.”

Mathis said she did have to take interview lessons, but to prepare for this pageant, she just needed to be herself.

“It’s stressful, always going to a national pageant, but it wasn’t like, ‘I’ve got to keep myself on a diet plan and work out.’ That’s what I like about this one,” Mathis said.

Going to a national pageant, she was worried her competition would keep to themselves, but that was not the case, she said.

“We have a group message now, and they talk to me every day,” Mathis said. “So, it was honestly the best experience.”

Mathis said she and the girls she met at the pageant have become close, and they have already planned a trip to the beach together this spring.

Mathis said she spends her spare time with her two younger cousins, with her sorority sisters and traveling when she can.

Mathis said she is a Member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, and they are her biggest support system.

“I think she’s worked really hard to get where she is,” said Mathis’ friend and sorority sister Erin Masterson.

Masterson said Mathis has been driven to reach her dream.

Mathis is majoring in health, physical education and recreation with a concentration in exercise science.

After graduation, she plans to become a pediatric occupational therapist, she said.