For one Mississippi native, the journey of a lifetime is now underway.
Madison Central high school graduate Ashley Hamby is in Las Vegas hoping to be crowned Miss USA. The reigning Miss Mississippi USA sat down with us before she left to give us some exclusive insight into her road to the crown.
The crown that Hamby wears practically dulls in comparison to the jewel that she is; smart, sassy and full of southern charm...
This southern belle is hoping to make history and bring the Miss USA crown to Mississippi for the first time ever.
"It's a lot of mental preparation, emotional preparation, as well as physical preparation; obviously in shape, getting in the gym, eating correctly. But then it's also finding out who you are. and knowing who you are so you can express that."
Hamby is currently in graduate school at Mississippi College. She says her love of pageants developed when she was younger as she was looking for a way to challenge herself.
"I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and a competitive tumbler for 4," said Hamby. "So I needed something to push me to help me set goals for myself, and I entered my first pageant and I was hooked, absolutely hooked."
Hooked and ready to make a difference. She's been studying her current events, eating right and staying focused. Her goal is the crown but her mission is to make sure she makes Mississippians proud.
"This state is where I came from and what made me Ashley and I'm extremely proud to be from Mississippi and you go into Miss USA and you break all the stereotypes that you can."
Ashley's platform is illiteracy and whether she's representing her home state or the country, she wants to use her position to make sure children know the importance of reading. And also that no matter what, they're special.
"You're beautiful exactly the way you are, and I mean that to every single little boy and girl in the world," said Ashley.
The Miss USA competition will air live from Las Vegas on FOX 40 Sunday night at 7 p.m. Julianne Hough and Terrence J will host the event.
The winner of the Miss USA pageant goes on to compete for the title of Miss Universe.