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There's how to watch a beauty contest.

BeautyThere's how to watch a beauty contest.

O' Neal is the Miss Mississippi and she is going to compete for the Miss America crown. She will have six more months of acting as Miss Mississippi if she doesn't return home with the crown. When she was crowned Miss Mississippi last June, O' Neal quit her full-time job as a recruit to work for the University of Southern Mississippi. The weather is expected to move toward Mississippi.

O' Neal travels for appearances and public speaking on a regular basis. She has already been through six cars since she started. "I've been bitten by a police dog, and I've been up in the air at a rocket testing sight," O' Neal said. O' Neal's service initiative includes a curriculum for students with disabilities. The main character in "Josiah's Big Day" is inspired by O' Neal's younger brother. The program is used to teach more than 50,000 students across the country. More in state news: Gov. Tate Reeves pledges to focus on the economy and healthcare.

The mission of Miss America is to empower women to lead and give higher education scholarships to young women in each state. O'Neal left the airport Saturday morning with a full schedule of appearances, interviews, workshops and more. This year's competition will feature a fitness component for the first time. The Miss America's Teen competition will be held the same week as the Miss America competition. She competed in five Miss Mississippi pageants before winning the crown, and balanced her training with graduate level classes and a job. She said winning the Miss Mississippi title felt like a dream. It was almost like an out-of-body experience for O' Neal, who plans to use any scholarship money she wins at this Sunday's competition to earn a doctorate. O' Neal earned a bachelor's degree in pubic relations and a master's degree in higher education administration from USM. I love being in front of people. "Any position that allows me to do that, but also gives me a little bit of flexibility to continue growing my nonprofit, that's something that I really see in my professional future." "I have found that a lot of people still don't understand the caliber of young women that compete," she said. As for Sunday's competition, O' Neal said she is not nervous yet but will as she goes on stage. The public can watch the competition on WatchMissAmerica.com.

The competition will be free for the public to watch.

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