Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts did not capture the coveted crown of Miss America 2016 Sunday night, but the University of Southern Mississippi graduate certainly won over the crowd on hand in Atlantic City and millions of others around the globe who watched the telecast with her poise, personality and extraordinary musical talent.
Roberts, a Mount Olive, Miss., native and Sumrall High School graduate, finished as first runner-up to Miss Georgia Betty Cantrell, who took home the title in the 89th annual competition.
In a Facebook post Monday morning, Roberts had this to say about her experience:
“Last night was a wonderful blur or emotions, cheers, and hugs as I was named first alternate to #MissAmerica. My goal was to play my talent piece on national television and that's a memory I'll never forget. This week, I won $30,000 and am well on my way to graduating medical school debt free, and this is exactly why Miss America is relevant in today's world. Here's to the greatest two weeks of my life thus far, and Mississippi, I'm coming for you!”
For her talent portion of Sunday’s night pageant, Roberts played Zapateado, No. 2, Opus 23 on the violin.
A biochemistry major with a minor in biology, Roberts graduated summa cum laude at USM this past May. A Goldwater Scholar, she was named the outstanding senior from the College of Science and Technology and is a member of the Southern Miss Student Hall of Fame. She has already been accepted into medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Through her “Pages of Love” book collection/donation program, Roberts has distributed more than 25,000 new and “gently-used” books to various schools, churches, hospitals, and other organizations.