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VOL. 115 | NO. 128 | Friday, July 6, 2001

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By JENNIFER MURLEY More than skin-deep By JENNIFER MURLEY The Daily News To look at her, theres no doubt Germantown resident Suzanne Jackson would have any trouble winning the average beauty pageant. Shes gorgeous. But, the wife, mother and community volunteer didnt choose to compete in an average pageant. Entrenched in her full-time career as an account executive with Kimberly Clark, Jackson, 34, was performing that all-to-familiar balancing act between family and work when she found out about the Mrs. Tennessee International Pageant via the Internet. As a former Miss Mid-South Fair, she had plenty of experience in beauty pageants and earned part of her way through college with pageant scholarships. But, just as she was a different person after marriage and motherhood, so was this particular pageant. Instead of focusing on beauty, the Mrs. Tennessee International competition promoted the dignity of married women with families and the importance of community service. "It was more than just a beauty pageant, more than just a competition it meant something," she said. Impressed by the ideology of the pageant, she convinced a friend to enter, and the two trekked across the state to Bristol, Tenn., to compete. After a long weekend involving a comedy of errors such as two broken-down vehicles, an emergency trip to the hospital and a flooded hotel room, Jackson won the title of Mrs. Tennessee International. May 27, her husband, Wes, officially crowned her as "queen." "I was in total shock, it was just a huge honor and an incredible surprise," she said. " I honestly did not go down there thinking I would win." Through the high profile associated with her title, Jackson plans to give back to the community she says has given her so much by promoting her pageant platform of feeding the hungry. During her upcoming tenure she will make numerous appearances and speeches on behalf of the Memphis Food Bank, an organization with whom she has worked closely throughout her 12-year career with Kimberly Clark. In the two months since she won the competition, she has volunteered her time as pageant queen in local soup kitchens, as well as participated in various events for the local volunteer organization Hands On Memphis. "Im getting the chance of a lifetime, so Ill try to do as much as I can with my platform," she said. In August, she travels to Sevierville, Tenn., to compete with representatives from other states for the title of Mrs. International. Shes looking forward to the opportunity to expand her platform to the national level. "I have a lot of ideas, if chosen," she said. "One thing would be a school tour throughout the U.S., just talking to children about the importance of feeding the hungry and sharing with those less fortunate than you." She also plans to get involved on a legislative level to help Congress pass the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act, which would provide corporations with tax relief for food donations. "I just cant think of anything worse than knowing that somebody is going to bed hungry because they dont have enough money to buy something to eat." Most importantly, Jackson said when her whirlwind year as beauty queen ends, she wants to be able to look back and know she made a difference in the community. As far as her expectations beyond the next year, well honestly, she hopes to be "expecting." Jackson said in addition to continuing her involvement in the community, she and her husband want to have another child. However for now, shes simply grateful for the experience as a pageant queen. "I never thought this couldve ever happened to me," she said. "Its going to give me more of an incentive to work harder and the self-confidence to do other things." Jackson plans to remain in Germantown where she lives with her husband and 2-year-old son, Cole.

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