Miss Alabama Comes Home to South

Posted on November 1, 2023
Joy Washington

Brianna Burrell, Miss Alabama 2023, USA President Jo Bonner, Nan Teninbaum, president of the Miss Alabama Scholarship Organization. data-lightbox='featured'
Miss Alabama Brianna Burrell arrives with USA President Jo Bonner and Nan Teninbaum, president of the Miss Alabama Scholarship Organization at the MacQueen Alumni Center October 27, for a reception held in her honor. Burrell graduated from South with her political science degree in 2021.

Miss Alabama Brianna Burrell, a 2021 University of South Alabama political science graduate, recently received a big Jaguar homecoming celebration.

It was a day of great fanfare with the South Alabama cheerleaders, SouthPaw, Miss Pawla and the pep band at the MacQueen Alumni Center as Burrell rolled in on the presidential golf cart with President Jo Bonner and Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Andi Kent.

Burrell, a native of Saraland, Alabama, also was greeted by the inspirational and melodic voices of the Black Student Union Choir and a room filled with students, family and supporters, along with the USA red, white and blue decorations, and the pink and green colors of her Epsilon Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

The 2023 USA Homecoming Queen Maiben Mitchell, president of USA’s Chapter of AKA and SGA Chief Justice, gave the opening greetings and served as the day’s presenter.

Bonner and National Alumni Association Vice President Ron Stallworth presented Burrell with a beautiful blue glass vase created by the USA students and faculty in the Department of Art and Art History glass program.

 “Miss Alabama, we wish you Godspeed. We wish you all the blessings,” Bonner said. “And, we thank you for the radiance that you provide for us as an example of all the students who have come before you and those who will follow. You are a wonderful ambassador for our state and for your generation.”

Burrell enjoyed a program filled with presentations including a proclamation and key to the City of Saraland, a certificate of recognition from the City of Mobile, and music and inspirational words of support, along with an afternoon lunch filled with fellowship.

“When students arrive on the South Alabama campus, you never really know how their stories will unfold,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Michael Mitchell, dean of students at South. “But today, we have a great story to see, and a great person to celebrate, and it’s Ms. Bri Burrell. Bri welcome home.”

Burrell is traveling across the state representing the Miss Alabama program by making public appearances, inspiring others and sharing her message of equitable educational exploration through her community service initiative SAVE-A-STEM. She is also the author of her first children’s book, “Investigation Nation: Who Made It!” The book, which can be purchased on Amazon, shares a diverse world of inventions for students to explore. 

 “It warms my heart to see my family, friends and my community here with me. I feel your love on this special day,” Bri said. “This is day 116 of my new reality that I am living in as Miss. Alabama. I understood the responsibility of this title. But again, I am mind blown every day about the opportunities, moments and experiences I get to live and the lives I get to touch.”

The Miss Alabama Pageant Director Nan Teninbaum also brought greetings and shared the distinguished history of the the Miss Alabama Program. As the choir sang, Jarmora Valrie, director of the USA Multicultural Leadership Center, closed out the program.

“Never forget you are well-loved, and that you are enough,” Valrie said. “This will always be home. Our love for you is deep, high and wide. Thank you, everyone, for coming to support Bri, as she goes to compete in Miss America on Jan. 14, 2024. There she is, Ms. Brianna Burrell.”

USA Alumna Kalyn Chapman was the first African American to be named Miss University of South Alabama and then Miss Alabama in 1993. She placed in the top 10 as a semi-finalist for Miss America. 

Burrell will compete in the 2024 Miss America program Jan. 6-14 in Orlando, Florida. 

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