FULTON, Miss. (WTVA) - It may have taken Chelsea Rick five times, but she is now the new Miss Mississippi.
The 23-year-old Fulton native was crowned July 14 at the Vicksburg Convention Center, where she and 34 contestants from across the Magnolia Sate competed for the title.
Miss Amory Railroad Festival Chelsea Rick took home Mississippi's most prestigious pageant title after weeks of training and preparing.
Family friends of Rick said they aren't surprised she did so well in the competition.
Fulton resident and friend Harvey Clements serves as the Itawamba Food Pantry co-director. He said Rick volunteers at the pantry every chance she gets.
"There's nothing I could every say bad about Chelsea," Clements said. "You just stand in awe of everything she does because she's always had that focus."
He said the list goes on and on when it comes to defining her character.
"She's humble," he said. "She's sincere. She cares. She can't stand to see people go hungry."
Rick will now represent the state in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sept. 15.
Family friend Laura Homan said there's no question in her mind she'll represent Mississippi well on the national stage.
"Chelsea has always been the type of person that whatever stage she was on, she would rise to the occasion, so I can't believe she would ever be intimidated," Homan said.
Homan said Fulton residents have already begun celebrating the victory.
"It gives them such a sense of pride and ownership of her and her family that you just don't get to see everyday in a small town like Fulton," she said.
Rev. Phillip Box, Rick's hometown pastor, said no one deserves it more and believes she [Rick] will advance far in the Miss America competition.
"We think it's gonna be a great year for her and for representing us and this community," Box said. "No one could do it better."
Aside from winning the overall pageant, Rick also won "Best in Swimwear" and "Best in Talent," receiving almost $11,000 in scholarships.
Chelsea Rick just completed her first year of medical school at William Carey College of Medicine in Hattiesburg, Miss.