Grace Elizabeth Munro of Ocean Springs, who is a member of this year’s GCYL class, is certainly a perfect match. Munro is not only an aspiring community leader; she’s also royalty. Having already won the Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen Pageant in June, she will compete at the national competition, which will be held in Orlando, Florida, July 29-August 2.
“This is the most wonderful opportunity for me,” she said. “I just started pageants a year ago on a whim, and here I am. I cannot wait until nationals!”
Munro, who will be a senior at Ocean Springs High School this year, said the seven months she has already been a member of the GCYL team has helped her in her competitions. “We participate in so many incredible business and leadership opportunities through the program,” she said. “I’ve learned about economics, infrastructure and industry, government, and community service. I’ve been able to speak to community leaders and legislators and be a part of events and programs that directly impact South Mississippi. The experience has been one of a kind and has helped me grow as a team member, as a speaker and as a leader.”
As part of the Outstanding Teen contest, Munro must have a platform and perform community service. Her platform issue is Breaking Barriers: Moving Toward Acceptance. She offers dance workshops geared toward children with disabilities and has had as many as 40 participants and 20 volunteers in a single workshop. She has motivated community action behind the project, garnering support from school organizations and local businesses. “My work with GCYL has definitely showed me how to solicit support for this project, from raising awareness to recruiting volunteers, and has built my knowledge of how to handle potential problems that may arise. I look forward to learning even more in the next several months.”
GCYL began in 1998 in an effort to expose high school students to a variety of leadership and career challenges, with students from George, Stone, Jackson and Harrison counties invited to participate. During the year from January to December, students are required to complete research reports, act as mentors and participate in community service. They are also expected to participate in monthly field trips to learn more about the economics of South Mississippi. The students earn three hours of college credit upon meeting all program requirements, and a graduation ceremony is held each December.
Until then, Munro has plenty to keep her busy. “It’s my senior year in high school this year with all that entails, and I still have several months of GCYL to enjoy,” she said. “Plus, if I win the national title for MAOT, I will start a whole new phase of my life in 2015, which will include travel and speaking engagements. It’s going to be an exciting year!”
For more information about GCYL, visit the community section at mgccc.edu, call Mollie Barger at 601.928.6385 or email her at email@example.com.