In December of 1927, the senior class of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College decided to host a popularity contest. Excitement and a competitive spirit filled the campus grounds as young ladies of the college, grades 7th and onward, vied for the title. Nine young ladies from amongst the student ranks were nominated by popular acclaim. On the morning of December 21, Emma Weathers was announced as the first Miss Alcorn. Her coronation was held on May 1, 1928.

Since then, 97 young women have donned the title with honor and pride. Ariel Knott was recently elected as the 98th Miss Alcorn State University to carry on this distinct legacy.

A Jackson, Miss. native, Ariel attended Park Place Christian Academy, a private Christian school in Pearl, Miss. As a scholar-athlete, she was actively involved in many activities on her high school campus. “I participated in basketball, track, and soccer. I also was part of youth legislature, homecoming court, class favorite, vice-president of the senior class, and Beta Club,” she shared.

A legacy student, her mother Trina Payne-Knott ’98, was Miss Senior 1987-1988. She hoped that Ariel would attend the University but left the choice up to her daughter to decide.

“I am the youngest of four children, and it was a given that we would attend college, said Ariel. “My other siblings attended other universities, so I did not have a clue where I wanted to attend college.  My parents told me to pick five colleges to preview, but I only chose two. Alcorn was the right fit for me. I immediately fell in love with the campus and the family atmosphere.”

Ariel, a senior human development and family science major at the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, has immersed herself in the Alcorn campus community. “You can find me participating in various activities around campus.  I love bowling, basketball, volleyball – really any athletic activity.  I also love hanging out and making new friends.”

Ariel is also a member of the Women’s Soccer Team, National Society of Leadership and Success, IMPACT Community Service Organization, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). During her time at the University, she has consistently been a Dean’s List Scholar and President’s Scholar.

As part of her course of study, Ariel interns in the Child Development Learning Center. This campus-based daycare provides social, emotional, cognitive, physical, language, and developmental learning activities for the children of college students as well as faculty and staff. She can be seen wearing the center’s signature gray scrubs, feeding and caring for infants, or on the playground laughing with toddlers and preschool children.

“I love children,” she smiled. “One of my career choices is to become a child life specialist. Utilizing my skills and experiences, I want to work in a hospital setting, ensuring that children have the best hospital experience.”

With a family history of entrepreneurship and a proactive attitude, Ariel may one day have multiple streams of income.

“Right now, I am trying to mesh all my various interests,” she said. “I am a certified nurse assistant, a pharmacy technician, and a summer coach. My ultimate goal is to become an entrepreneur.  I come from a family which encourages entrepreneurship. My grandparents, great uncles, parents, cousins have all been in various businesses ranging from a candy store, grocery stores, real estate investors, law offices, etc.”

While Ariel leads an active and balanced lifestyle of scholarship and service and is successful at her undertakings, her success hasn’t come without its challenges.

“One of the most difficult parts of my undergraduate experience has been balancing academics, athletics, work, and life as a Type 1 diabetic.  The early morning runs, the extended trips, the dreaded ice baths, balancing the highs and lows of a diabetic, and commuting on the weekend to work as a pharmacy tech while ensuring that I stay on top of my schoolwork are everyday experiences that are part of my world,” she shared.

She has the support of her loved ones to help her remain focused and motivated.

“Some things that inspire me are my family, friends, and faith,” she said. “Each has poured into me to help me become a confident young lady.” “The best part of my undergraduate experience has been meeting and forming relationships with so many great individuals.  Although many of my friends and teammates are from various backgrounds, we have really bonded and established lasting memories.”

Ariel also notes her mother as a source of strength.

“She is one of my biggest supporters. She not only prayed for me but also encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming Miss Alcorn.  If I am rocking, she is rolling.  She always has my back – figuratively and literally.”

Ariel has big plans for her reign as Miss Alcorn.

“I ran on the platform, T.I.P.S.—which is an acronym for — “Tapping Into your Potential Success,” she said. She hopes to focus on helping students prioritize health, build wealth, and establish successful relationships. She has already started to generate ideas for the upcoming semester.”

“I would like to enhance our campus pantry, especially focusing on hygienic products, fresh food, and other essentials. I am interested in a ‘Money Matters Forum’ focusing on student debt management, investing, and budgeting. I also want to host a forum/panel that would focus on relationships – identifying toxic relationships and creating safe and nurturing relationships.”

As an ambassador for the University, recruitment is at the forefront of Ariel’s mind.

“I want prospective students to know that Alcorn State University is a top-tier university that provides opportunities for each student to be seen and known.  Students are not just a number but a part of a family!”

As the reign of 97th Miss Alcorn State University Jillian Mills comes to an end, Ariel is well equipped to take on the duties that senior class president James Hall Bolden charged the very first Miss Alcorn with in May of 1928.

During her coronation, he said, “I place upon your head this crown. Wear it and remember that you are representing the ideals of this institution — those ideals that were foremost in the minds of the fathers of our educational system, and which still move us on. May the smiles of heaven beam radiantly upon you and instill into your soul the ineffable joys of nobility, which, we pray, shall ever preserve your dignity of manner, your fidelity to life, and your sacred honor.”