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Released July 25, 2003


HATTIESBURG - You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Luckily, the people, places and atmosphere that make up The University of Southern Mississippi didn't need one where Katie Newman, Mississippi's Miss Hospitality 2002, was concerned. She fell in love with Southern Miss and all it had to offer the first time she visited.

"Everyone I met greeted me with a smile," Newman said. "I loved the attitude of the campus, and it seemed like a really great place to be. And I love the Commons. I love the food.

"Also, I'm in sports medicine, and there's a really good Sports Medicine/Pre Physical Therapy program here. And I have a lot of friends that go to school here."

Newman, 20, is transferring to Southern Miss from Mississippi College and will begin classes in Hattiesburg in the fall.

The visit that helped Newman, a Brookhaven native, decide on Southern Miss as the place to continue her education took place exactly one year ago when she was in Hattiesburg to participate in the Miss Hospitality pageant. Contestants in the pageant live on campus while competing in the event.

Now, 12 months later, Newman is back on campus to participate in this year's Miss Hospitality pageant. Forty-two young women from across Mississippi are here representing their hometowns in the contest, and Friday night, activities get underway at the Saenger Theatre in Hattiesburg.

Ten finalists will be selected to come back and compete for the crown Saturday night, and Newman will pass the crown to the new Miss Hospitality.

Serving as Miss Hospitality over the past year has been a great experience, Newman said. There have been a lot of ribbon cuttings, festivals and parades on her calendar, as well as opportunities to travel and meet exciting people.

"I've done Stars Over Mississippi," Newman said, "where I met some Hollywood stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Ray Romano and Delta Burke. Also, I traveled to New York for six days for the Mississippi Picnic. I also went to Chicago for a golf show to promote golf in Hattiesburg."

Newman has traveled thousands of miles representing Mississippi as the Hospitality State and promoting economic development and tourism.

Almost as soon as Newman crowns the new Miss Hospitality, she will be off to Birmingham, Ala. Newman has joined the Southern Miss cheerleading squad, and the group is attending a camp there.

Cheerleading is only one of the activities Newman plans on being involved with at Southern Miss. She is going through rush in two weeks and said, "I'm going to try my best to do as many as possible, [and become involved with] any kind of organization I can get involved with on campus."



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August 14, 2003 4:42 PM