MTSU senior represents state at Miss USA 2012

MTSU senior represents state at Miss USA 2012

Jessica Hibler

MTSU senior Jessica Hibler represented Tennessee well in the Miss USA 2012 pageant.

Hibler, who was named Miss Tennessee 2012 last fall, was one of the 16 semifinalists in the national pageant’s final night on June 3.

Her accomplishment marked the seventh straight placement for a Miss Tennessee USA contestant. Miss USA 2000 Lynnette Cole is from Columbia, Tenn., and Miss USA 2007 Rachel Smith is from Clarksville.

Miss Rhode Island 2012, Olivia Culpo, was crowned Miss USA 2012 in the Las Vegas event.

Hibler, a 22-year-old senior broadcast-journalism major, has been participating in pageants since she was 18. She’s competed in Miss Tennessee before and came close to winning a few times, but the Miss Tennessee USA 2012 win was her first victory.

In addition to winning the state pageant crown last Oct. 8, Hibler received scholarship money and the chance to compete in the Miss USA 2012 pageant, but she said she gets more than money from winning.

MTSU senior Jessica Hibler, Miss Tennessee USA 2012, steps forward as a semifinalist in the 2012 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas on June 3. (photo courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization)

“I enjoy participating in pageants, but the ultimate goal, and what I like about pageants, is what you get after becoming Miss Tennessee, which is career opportunities, opportunities at charities and the opportunity to represent your state at Miss USA,” she said.

Hibler works with a number of charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Tennessee Prevention of Childhood Obesity and the American Cancer Society.

Hibler said that pageants are a great way for young women to learn valuable lessons that they might not otherwise learn. The experience of competing has always been a valuable one, she said—even the times she’s managed to come away without the crown in the end.

“It’s a great growing experience even if you don’t win. The life skills that you learn from pageants you can’t learn anywhere else. It’s a crash course in public speaking, walking and being able to present yourself in front of a crowd of people.”

LaShan Mathews

LeShan Mathews, a 2007 MTSU alumna and the Miss Tennessee 2012 second runner-up, earned her graduate degree in physical education from MTSU in May 2011. She is a former Miss Middle Tennessee Blue Raider as well as Miss Black Tennessee.

Hibler encourages young women between the ages of 14 and 28 who are interested in participating in next year’s competition to sign up. For more information on Miss Tennessee USA, visit

—  Jay Powell and NMR staff reports (