Sharing her message of character, integrity and trust, reigning Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson spoke to groups of students at Smithville Elementary, Northside, and DeKalb West School Friday.
"Today I spoke to about 800 students. I love children and I'm excited that I am able to convince them to think critically about their character and to come up with ways to be a more trustworthy person in their everyday life," said Thompson in an interview with WJLE.
Thompson’s lifelong dream came true when she was crowned Miss Tennessee on June 22, 2013, at the Carl Perkins Civic Center in Jackson, Tennessee. "There's a lot involved in becoming Miss Tennessee. You're tested in so many different ways. I actually went through a ten minute politically based interview. It is grueling. They can ask you anything from your deepest dreams and fears to your biggest mistake to your views on political things and your solutions for any issue going on in our country. It's a big job and preparing for that job took lots of hours. I also did a couple half marathons and a triathlon to get ready for the swimsuit competition that everyone looks forward to every year . Along with the personal talent, I studied Opera at Vanderbilt for four years. I sing opera as my talent. It's a fun job. You're tested in a lot of ways but ultimately you just focus on preparing your heart for this job in serving our state," she said.
As Miss Tennessee, Kirkland’s Inc. sponsors Shelby as she serves as Governor Haslam’s Official Spokesperson for Character Education and travels 70,000 miles speaking to 40,000 schoolchildren about the Character Education Trait: Trustworthiness. Throughout her year of travels across the state, Shelby also serves as a National Spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Official Friends of Children’s Hospital Board Intern, Volunteer Tennessee’s Honorary Board Chair, as well as the Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network for the state of Tennessee, home to five CMN hospitals.
Shelby is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a B.S. in Public Relations, a minor in Business and has been accepted into Lipscomb University’s MBA program with a Nonprofit Management concentration. She was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, was selected as one of fifteen college seniors to participate in the Senior Leadership Capstone Course, and received the UTK’s School of Public Relations Scholarship. Shelby also received Tennessee’s Lottery HOPE Scholarship, as well as the University of Tennessee’s Center for International Education Scholarship. While a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, she was selected by her professors to attend the LeaderShape Institute in 2011, was employed as an Ambassador Scholar, served as Philanthropy Chair for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority where she coordinated weekly service projects for 175 members and was named Alpha Kappa Chapter’s Junior of the Year. The National Alpha Delta Pi Sorority honored Shelby as the National Collegiate Volunteer of the Year in 2011 for her work involving Ronald McDonald House Charities where she raised over $8,000 through the fundraiser she created.
Shelby has been awarded over $26,000 in college scholarships from her participation in the Miss America program. She won the Miss Tennessee Quality of Life Award 2013 and was presented the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Medal Award by HRH Prince Edward at Governor Haslam’s residence in May 2013. Shelby was a Swimsuit Preliminary Winner in 2010 and won Talent Preliminary awards in 2012 and 2013 when she competed for the Miss Tennessee crown. With the scholarships she won participating in the Miss America Organization, Shelby was afforded the opportunity to study International Public Relations and Crisis Communication in Italy at Universita di Urbino during the summer of 2011.
As a Nationally Endorsed Spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Shelby will represent the organization during her travels across the state and will be filming a national Public Service Announcement that will run on Comcast and joins Academy Award Winner, Jamie Foxx, former Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler, Grammy Award winner, Eve, and Super Bowl Champion, Darrin Smith, as national spokespeople. Shelby is an Honorary Member of BBBS Ambassador Circle, has appeared in a statewide Public Service Announcement as Miss Tennessee in support of BBBS, and is on a billboard campaign with her Little Sister, Justice Fields, for BBBS. Over this past year, she has worked as the Fund Development Intern and has spearheaded the Tennessee chapter’s capital campaign by organizing Bowl for Kids’ Sake in five different cities that have raised $125,000, while also raising nearly $15,000 during the past ten months through online virtual fundraisers and speaking engagements. Shelby has also served as a Programs Intern for BBBS and volunteered as a Big Sister to Justice for three years, until her Little Sister graduated from the program. Shelby received the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Honor for Extraordinary Community Service for her volunteerism with BBBS.
In addition to her work promoting Big Brothers Big Sisters, Shelby has been heavily involved with Tennessee’s five CMN hospitals and volunteered for IHOP’s CMN National Pancake Day for the past several years. Shelby created a Krafts 4 Kids Program, which she has taken to all five Tennessee CMN Hospitals, where she makes “love bug crafts” with patients who are able to participate. She has volunteered for CMN Queen for a Day events in Nashville and Memphis, hosted a Pancake Breakfast for CMN Hospitals in Knoxville, and hosted both The Children’s Christmas Artwork Winner’s Party and “Miss Tennessee Day” at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Shelby escorted youth volunteers at CMN’s Sundae with Friends and Fashion Show and worked as a phone bank volunteer for the Nashville and Knoxville CMN telethons. She volunteered at the CMN Phone-a-thon for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, and participated in the Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving in Nashville where 27 stores provided a portion of the proceeds to CMN. Shelby has founded the GenerosiTEA fundraiser at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where mothers can bring their daughters to have refreshments and photos with Miss Tennessee while learning about Shelby’s volunteer experiences at VCH.
When Shelby is not working on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters, CMN Hospitals and the Miss Tennessee Organization, she enjoys classical vocal performance and has had the opportunity to sing at Dollywood and Carnegie Hall. She has studied classical voice through Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, Nashville Opera and Opera Memphis. Shelby is an avid triathlete and runner, having completed both the Nashville Country Music and Chicago Half marathons and UT’s Triathlon.
Thompson said she hopes to have a career in sales and marketing or working in her family's business after her reign as Miss Tennessee and once she completes her education.