Last month, a Liberty Christian School student captured the national title of Miss High School America.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Haleigh Hurst, 17. “It was a dream come true!”
Hurst, of Decatur, entered her first pageant when she was 9 years old at the North Texas Fair and Rodeo in Denton, and since then she has competed in many pageants, being named National American Miss Texas and International Junior Miss Texas and coming in the top five twice at Texas Teen USA. She was named Miss Texas High School in 2018 and was first runner-up at the national pageant that year.
“I felt really defeated after coming so close, but I decided to return the following year with an appointed title,” Hurst said. “Every competition is an experience in personal growth. I grew spiritually and in character learning to wait for God’s timing because I haven’t won every competition I entered.”
This year’s national competition was supposed to take place in June, but was postponed until September because of the coronavirus pandemic. Over three days, Hurst completed interviews based on her resume and social media posts. In the finals, while tied for first place, she was asked about the pageant’s platform, Building Respect And Values for Everyone (BRAVE).
“In middle school I felt hopeless,” Hurst answered. “I stood 5’10” with the voice of a 5-year-old due to a severe speech impediment. I was an easy target. But I chose to embrace the things I could not change and change the things I could. With that in mind, I fixed my speech impediment in six months when therapists told me it would take two years. I have made it my mission to spread BRAVE to anyone who will listen. I go in to schools and speak to all ages about the power of words and the power of one. I wrote an anti-bullying children’s book called Shine Your Light. I reach people on a national level through my Self Empowerment blog and website.”
Hurst was named Miss High School America, and she’s treating the title like a full-time job, with trips planned to make appearances, meet with sponsors and participate in photo shoots. Hurst will be awarded more than $109,000 in scholarships, trips, wardrobe, travel, service and prizes. She is heavily involved with local nonprofits and extra-curricular activities at Liberty, where she is the senior class president. Hurst hopes to attend the University of Alabama and major in political science.