"I'm married to the woman. And I couldn't even tell you every extracurricular activity that she does, but regardless of how strung out she is and how tired she is, she is perpetually concerned with the condition of others and how she can go out and help others," said Cade Hixson of his wife Kelli Gill Hixson, this year's Miss MSU.
For Kelli Hixson, the honor of being chosen as Miss MSU is not about the glory, it is about representing the university in a person — and that means being welcoming, supportive and kind to all.
"All the reasons that I came to Mississippi State, I want to embody that and those characteristics and just make people feel welcomed and make people feel important. Just to serve others — I feel like that's what Miss MSU is. It's a representation of Mississippi State and all the best parts of Mississippi State. And that's why I feel so honored to have it," Kelli Hixson said.
Hixson said she was inspired to apply for the position by Reagan Moak, a previous Miss MSU.
"I was a junior homecoming maid and my year Reagan Moak was Miss MSU and she was just everything that you could want to be; she was just really incredible. I feel like seeing her made me even think of the position and I never in a million years thought I would ever get it because I held her to such high standards," Kelli Hixson said.
Kelli Hixson hails from Batesville High School in Arkansas, where she was also a homecoming maid her junior year and Miss Batesville High her senior year. It is also where she met her high school sweetheart and now-husband, Cade Hixson, who is also a senior at MSU. About being married in college, Kelli Hixson said it is a privilege, as well as a balancing act.
"Some people are like, are you going to be Miss MSU or M-R-S MSU? I've heard that multiple times and I'm like I don't think they would change it just for me, but it's funny," Kelli Hixson said, laughing.
Kelli and Cade Hixson met in the ninth grade and were able to connect over shared past experiences of troubled home lives. Kelli Hixson lived in a single-father household and was partly raised by her grandfather, a man who had a tremendous impact on her life until he passed away from cancer. Because of her youth, Kelli Hixson feels she can connect with students from a variety of home lives and backgrounds.
"I've just lived a very diverse life because I've seen poverty, and I've seen wearing the same clothes to school every day, but I've also been really blessed," Kelli Hixson said.
Going into college, Kelli Hixson knew she wanted to work in the science field. As a senior biological sciences major on the pre-dental track, she is planning on general dentistry as a way to be able to give back to impoverished communities in the future.
"I kind of debated on if I wanted to specialize or not, but I think general dentistry, I could do a lot with. Something that I really want to do is help put on days or events where you can help the less fortunate, and I feel like that's something I could do as a general dentist. It'd be hard to put braces on someone and then never see them again. And I could help family. I just feel like it's really versatile," Kelli Hixson said.
Hixson is a member of the Tri Delta sorority and served as a Gammi Chi for the past recruitment. She has been involved in a number of student groups, including Maroon VIP, Dance Marathon and Honors College, but her favorites are the Pre-Dental Club and being a Supplemental Instruction leader.
Chelsey Vincent, an instructor and coordinator at MSU's Learning Center, oversees Kelli Hixson in her supplemental instruction work, a program where students who have completed difficult classes hold tutoring sessions for the next students taking those classes. Vincent said Kelli Hixson's choice to be an SI leader demonstrates her commitment to helping others.
"In her position as SI leader, she made it through, she could have not looked back, but she chose to just apply for this and help students figure out that difficult course as a freshman," Vincent said.
Vincent also pointed out that Kelli Hixson's authenticity sets her apart. She is willing to be honest about her triumphs as well as her struggles.
"She shares her ups and her downs; some people just share the highlights. But Kelly has talked about, 'You know, I didn't get this position, but I just applied again or applied for something else.' And I just think her ability to and willingness to share that, is to me, that's what Miss MSU should be, just helping other people and sharing the ups and downs that you've experienced," Vincent said.