Q&A with Miss Columbus: Willietta T. Grant

May 29, 2013 

Talent: Vocal Performance

Age: 23

University: Columbus State University Alumni

High school: Columbus High School

Hometown: Fort Benning, Georgia

Career goals: Mathematics educator

Family: Parents: William and Loria Grant. Siblings: Margaret Grant-Wooden, Stephanie Gibson, Lydia Grant

Favorite song: "Its Not Over" by Israel Houghton

Favorite movie: "Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid"

Favorite book: "Love You More" by Lisa Gardner

Favorite food: Chicken and shrimp alfredo

Tell us about your platform.

My platform, "Give Them You: Youthful Expression & Esteem through the Arts", focuses on building a bridge between our youth and the fine arts. I believe that if all youth were offered affordable opportunities to participate in some form of the arts this would provide a positive outlet for self-expression for our youth to share their voices, which in turn, increases their self-esteem exponentially. Two years ago my platform originated from my passions: encouraging and empowering today's youth. I cultivate the self-esteem of this generation through speaking engagements. Even though I may use different word arrangements, I always deliver the same message in each speech; because my goal is to assist young girls and teens in knowing and believing they are beautiful and special while encouraging young boys to grow up as noble and respectful men.

Through my platform, I have been able to speak to students in the Muscogee County School District. Over the past two months as Miss Columbus, my platform has reached more than 1,600 students. The effects have surpassed my expectations. Teachers and students have e-mailed me thanking me for the inspiration and encouragement, along with reports of increased class participation and effort. Students have chosen to cite the words of my speeches on their personal social media accounts. I do not personally benefit from these profuse e-mails and citations; instead, I benefit from knowing that I have made a difference in one life. This short-term response foreshadows the long-term effects of my efforts. Through my platform, my generation [and those to come] will know that their dreams are attainable. In the future, I believe students will continue to choose only positive outlets for expression. Stronger community support of the youth is in my vision for long-term effects. I believe my platform will perpetuate the building of a united community that will continue to encourage the youth of today and tomorrow.

The Southern states are consistently listed as those with the highest obesity rates in the U.S. What can be done to promote healthier lifestyles in our communities?

Our children need more active lifestyles. They need to get outside and play the way we did in our younger years. Children are spending an unbalanced amount of time using modern technology in place of good exercise. Our First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative is the perfect example of dedication toward promoting healthier lifestyles among children and adults. In addition to physical activity, food and nutrition are key contributors to the high obesity rates. Our culture has enabled us to choose between quality and cost, which mirrors a direct correlation between healthier food choices and expensive prices. We must continue to educate our community on nutrition and appropriate food portions.

An anti-bullying rally was held in Columbus recently in response to the suicide of a 13 year old who was bullied at school. What steps need to be taken at school and at home to eliminate bullying?

As a community, we must be proactive instead of being responsive. It is all of our responsibility to stop bullying regardless of who it may be affecting. Importance lies in our schools' and households' capacity to educate our youth about the true definition of bullying and it's effects. If we continue to proactively communicate about this issue and spread the news about it's tragic consequences, then our community will take a preventive stance against bullying because it will be one of our priorities.

Who are your mentors and how do they positively impact your life?

Samantha Daniels and Arlene Embola (of Transformations Hair Salon) are my God-sent mentors in this season of my life. As I prepare for the Miss Georgia Pageant, these women have been the iron that sharpens iron. Together, they push me to be better, because they see greatness in my depths. There is no such thing as criticism from these two; instead, only constructive criticism and compassion. Samantha and Arlene not only love me, but they emphasize the importance of me loving myself because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Their lives and beliefs are inspiration to me.

What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Fun? Relaxation? What is that? As an educator, one of the hardest working volunteers in the city, and a contestant for Miss Georgia, my schedule is full of experiences that I would not trade nor replace. However, when I manage to steal a moment away for myself, I enjoy taking a nice nap!

What makes you feel better after a bad day?

At the end of a bad day, I could not be happier with a single scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins topped with whipped cream, sliced bananas, and almonds!

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