Grace Ann Lundy Crowned Miss JSU 2024
by Buffy Lockette
It was an evening of twinkling lights, glittery ballgowns, inspiring speeches and a diverse display of talent when 12 women took the stage in a packed Leone Cole Auditorium for the first major event of the spring semester - the 2024 Miss JSU Pageant.
In addition to the crown, contestants were vying for a two-semester scholarship, the opportunity to represent the university at the Miss Alabama pageant this summer and other prizes. Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Terry Casey, who has assisted if not directly organized the event since the 1990s, said it was one of the largest groups of contestants in recent memory.
“Our planning committee, led by Assistant Dean of Students Cody Beck, has really worked hard over the past few years to improve Miss JSU,” Casey said. “I believe interest among students has grown accordingly."
Candidates were scored by expert judges in the following categories: Private Interview with Judges, 30 percent; Evening Gown and Social Impact Initiative, 20 percent; Health and Fitness, 20 percent; Talent, 20 percent; On-Stage Conversation, 10 percent.
While the competition was fierce, JSU sophomore Grace Ann Lundy of Cedartown, Ga., came out victorious. The early childhood/elementary education major also won the talent portion of the competition for her jazz dance performance to "They Just Keep Moving the Line."
First runner-up was Amelia Tucker, a sports management major from Gadsden. Chloe James, a biology major from Attalla, won the Darby Angle Acts of Kindness Award. Established by Miss JSU 2019, Darby Angle, the recipient is selected by the contestants themselves as the participant who displayed "true kindness and grace throughout the week of competition."
The evening was bittersweet for Lily Grace Vernon, as she took her last walk as Miss JSU 2023. Remarkably, the secondary education major placed in the Top 13 at last summer’s Miss Alabama pageant - having only ever competed in one other pageant, Miss JSU.
“Prior to Miss JSU, I had no pageant experience, so this changed my life,” Vernon told the crowd. “Getting ready for Miss Alabama turns you into the best version of yourself. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”
JSU women have a long history of success on the pageant stage. Seven Miss Alabamas attended JSU, including Miss America 1995 Heather Whitestone McCallum and 1979's first runner-up and retired JSU voice instructor Teresa Cheatham Crosby. Other Miss Alabamas who hailed from JSU include Ceil Jenkins Snow, 1971; Jane Rice Holloway, 1973; Julie Houston Elmer, 1977; Tammy Little Haynes, 1984; and Jamie Langley, 2007.
Four former Miss JSUs were in attendance to support the event. Former Miss JSU Jamie Langley, who was crowned Miss Alabama in 2007, was scheduled to serve as the evening's host but had to cancel due to car trouble on her way to the event. Kate Hamby, JSU digital content manager, stepped in as emcee - charming the audience with her down-to-earth style.
"I was truly honored to be invited to step in, and it was so incredible to witness these remarkable young women shine on the stage," Hamby said. "Being a part of a university that wholeheartedly celebrates the achievements of women fills me with immense pride, and I loved being able to celebrate each of these 12 delegates."