Defying the Odds: Asya Branch makes history with Miss USA win

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 1:20 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Add one more item to the state of Mississippi’s “win” column!

Mississippi native, Asya Branch was crowned the new Miss USA last week.

“I’m so grateful to be crowned Miss USA, it still feels so crazy coming out of my mouth,” says Branch.

The 22 year-old is making history here in the magnolia state and in the pageant world.

Branch is the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss Mississippi USA and the first competitor from the state to win the national title.

“It just blew my mind that it was 2019 and this was just happening, but I believe everything happens in perfect timing and just as it should.”

Branch grew up in Booneville, MS.

Her journey to the crown wasn’t an easy one, stating she wasn’t supposed to beat the odds.

Her father served a 10-year prison sentence and was absent for almost half her life.

“Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be here. As a child of an incarcerated parent, I should have either been a drug user, or a school dropout or pregnant, the list goes on and on of the statistics, and I’ve defied every odd that was stacked against me. So i just want to use that as an example to show it doesn’t matter what your background is, you can accomplish anything,” says Branch.

Defying the odds is how Branch is spreading hope in our own community.

Pastor Kajsa Cole, CEO of Kajsa Cole Ministries in Meridian says it was a moment her and her daughter will never forget.

“I just felt like she brought so many young girls and women from Mississippi on that stage with her, they were crowned with her that night, and to allow our young girls to see what an amazing example that is and someone that looks like me. Attaining these things, walking in the path and the territory that she is. It is so encouraging,” says Cole.

Cade Slaughter served as the Co-Director for pageants at Ole Miss. He worked with branch when she won the schools “Parade of Beauties” title.

“I’m proud of her as a Mississippian and a former Ole Miss student. She’s worked very hard for that so it’s very deserving. It’s really cool when someone you know wins or accomplishes something they worked hard toward,” says Slaughter.

Branch competes in the Miss Universe pageant next year.

She’s reminding young girls everywhere to let nothing stand in their way.

“The only thing that can limit you is you, and you just have to believe in yourself in order to make others believe in you as well.”

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