ELLISVILLE, MS (JONES COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE) – Jones County Junior College and University of Southern Mississippi graduate, Chataura Harper is headed to Vicksburg this weekend to participate in the Miss Mississippi pageant as Miss Jones County. The 23 year old Laurel native has been busy 'shaking' things up in preparation for this journey competing against 45 contestants.
"I've presented my platform, "Shaking Youth into Health" in downtown Laurel recently trying to inspire kids to make healthy choices," said Harper. "Over 40 percent of Mississippi's children are obese, leading to diabetes and other health issues."
Her goal is educating children and adults on eating nutritional foods and to get them 'shaking'. The life-long dancer and member of USM, JCJC, and Laurel High School's dance teams, shows her skills in a routine she created, as part of her platform.
"My routine is designed to get kids up and moving, and off the couch," she said.
Harper is a little nervous performing in her first Miss Mississippi pageant; however she's had a lot of pageant experience. Her pageant career began at the age of six years old when she started participating in pageants hosted by her mother, Carolyn Harper-McLaurin's sorority. Chatuara owes her love of pageants to her grandmother, Alberta Leggett Pearson.
She explained, "My grandmother loved fashion, beauty, and pageants, and would be so proud of me because she wanted to follow in her footsteps."
Chataura's mother and her sister started the Miss Black Jones County pageant in Alberta's memory and Chataura was a regular contestant in that pageant. She continued participating in pageants and was awarded fourth runner up her sophomore year in the Most Beautiful pageant in Laurel. That motivated her to enter every year making the Top Ten.
Harper captured the crown in her first statewide competition in Biloxi, as Hattiesburg's representative in the Miss Spirit of Beauty pageant as a senior in high school. "That was a great experience," said Harper. "I felt like it was a great accomplishment because it was like I was moving to a bigger and better experience every time."
At Jones County Junior College, the broadcast journalism major earned a Top Ten position in the Most Beautiful Pageant her freshman year. She earned the 2nd Alternate spot her sophomore year.
She ventured into the Miss Jones County pageant in 2009, earning 1st Alternate. Not giving up, she competed again last January and captured the title that would earn her a place in the Miss Mississippi competition. "I've had a lot of support from my church family, St. Elmo Baptist Church, Jones County Junior College and Laurel Mayor Melvin Mack," she said.
Miss Jones County will be participating in preliminary pageant competitions and rehearsals beginning July 3, in Vicksburg. The final round of pageant competition will be Saturday, July 10.
Chataura is the daughter of Jimmy Harper of Atlanta, GA, and Robert and Carolyn Harper - McLaurin of Laurel.