Meridian, Miss. Mississippi's Miss Hospitality is Meridian's own Hailey Thomas. She won the title Saturday night in Hattiesburg and paid a visit to WTOK Monday to talk about her plans.
Thomas is the first winner of the program from Meridian since 1952.
She recently graduated from Meridian Community College and will now attend the University of Mississippi where she will study biology.
For winning the program, Thomas received a 1-year tuition-free scholarship, along with $5,000 in cash and other prizes.
Thomas will represent Mississippi by serving as an ambassador for tourism and economic development.
"I plan to tell others that Mississippi has an abundance of natural resources and the best days are ahead of us," said Thomas. "And me being Mississippi's Miss Hospitality, I plan to transform the negative stereotypes into positive ones, and encourage them that Mississippi is the place to call home."
Thomas will visit all the welcome centers in the state where her portrait will be displayed. She will also visit New York City next summer to represent the state for Tourism Week.