Beauty Abounds in Mississippi

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Jalin Wood, Miss Metro Jackson, was crowned the 2004 Miss Mississippi over the weekend.

This year's competition was considered one of the toughest. In each night of the preliminaries, there were ties in almost all of the categories.

Wood credits pageants with helping her develop people and communication skills. The 23-year-old Waynesboro resident described herself as "a chemistry nerd in college.''

After being crowned Saturday, the Mississippi College graduate will begin preparation for the Miss America competition in September.

Throughout her reign as Miss Mississippi, Wood will travel the state helping to setup chapters of Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD.

In addition to the tiara, Wood's win earned her $15,000 in scholarship money, which her father says will help pay for medical school.

Miss Mississippi 2003, Allison Kellogg, is planning on moving to New York and pursuing a career in dance.

Miss Florida 2004 also has a Mississippi connection. This year's winner is University of Miami student, Jenna Edwards, 22, who's a native of Clinton, Miss. She won a $14,000 cash scholarship. Forty-two women competed in Florida's 69th pageant.