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By GWEN SISSON
She said everything was moving so quickly there wasnâ€™t time to think.
Despite her best efforts to savor the moment, the final night of competition is a bit of a blur for 2011â€™s Miss Mississippi Mary Margaret Roark.
â€śBut one thing I immediately wanted to do was thank my family and everyone who made my journey to Miss Mississippi possible,â€ť Roark said.
The Mississippi State University student was crowned the 77th Miss Mississippi at Saturday nightâ€™s pageant in Vicksburg. Roark is the third MSU student in a row to receive the honor.
â€śMary Margaret has worked in the presidentâ€™s office for the past two years, so we have had a chance to get to know her well,â€ť said Mark Keenum, MSU president.Â â€śShe is very talented, driven and possesses a strong work ethic that served her well in pursuit of the title of Miss Mississippi.Â I have every confidence Mary Margaret will represent our state â€” and Mississippi State University â€” well in the performance of her duties as Miss Mississippi and in competition for the title of Miss America.â€ť
Keenum also wanted to congratulate MSU students Fenly Akers, Shelby Corn and Stephanie Stanford for their top-five finish in the Miss Mississippi Scholarship Pageant.Â
â€śThe Mississippi State family is proud of these outstanding young women,â€ť Keenum said.
Karen Jones, business manager for the Miss Mississippi Scholarship Pageant Corporation, said she believes Roark will make a great Miss America contestant.
â€śI have already been very impressed with Mary Margaret and I think she is going to do a great job,â€ť Jones said.
Jones said Miss Mississippi 2010 Sarah Beth James had 120-plus appearances, in addition to balancing preparation for the Miss America Scholarship Pageant during her first six months.
â€śWe expect our Miss America contestant to give 110 percent in every phase of the competition,â€ť Jones said. â€śI think Mary Margaret will do just that.â€ť
Roark said she has high expectations for her year as Miss Mississippi
â€śI expect that I will do things I have never dreamed of,â€ť Roark said. â€śI think I will meet some amazing people, and I hope I will touch many lives.â€ť
She said she has begun her journal for the year, and she said it is already clear this year will change her life forever.
In her second year to compete for the Miss Mississippi crown, Roark said she was feeling pretty good about all areas of competition before the pageant. One change this year was her talent. In 2010, she had a vocal performance. This year, she focused on her piano skills, playing â€śNostradamus.â€ť
â€śHowever, when I got to Vicksburg I realized that we had a very strong group of competitors,â€ť Roark said. â€śI tried to focus on my competition and not compare myself to any other contestants.â€ť
Roark said sheÂ noticed she had more fun this year backstage with the contestants than in the previous year.Â
â€śI think I can owe that to my extensive preparation and the fact that I put the competitive nature aside and just tried to do my thing that week,â€ť Roark said.
In this yearâ€™s competition, Roark said most of her focus was on figuring out who she was as a competitor and showing that to the judges in every phase of competition.Â It worked out well for Roark early in the competition, placing first in swimsuit in the first round preliminary.
But it is the evening gown portion of the competition that