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Bethel University Senior to Compete in Miss Tennessee Volunteer 2023

Gracelyn Eaves


McKENZIE — Gracelyn Eaves, 20, a rising senior at Bethel University, returns to compete in the Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant this summer. The pre-professional Biology major last served as Miss Bethel University in the 2022 statewide pageant, where she was voted Miss Congeniality. This year, she serves as Miss Tipton County Volunteer, a title that earned her passage to return to the statewide pageant.
The brown-eyed, brown-haired beauty comes from a large blended family. Her mom and stepdad are Tasha and Shawn Boone. Her father who raised her is Jeff Eaves and her biological father is of Hawaiian and Korean ancestry. She has six siblings - two older and six younger.
Gracelyn, a 2021 Houston County High School graduate, feels more confident going into her second year of competition than last year, when she won Miss Congeniality among the 36 contestants residing in Tennessee or attending college in the state.
Last year, Gracelyn had a platform of “Giving Grace.”
“I’m broadening my platform to promote character education and social accountability!
“As Miss Tipton County, I speak on being the one! I encourage others to be who they are while also leading, promoting, and encouraging others through listening and leading others!”
Each contestant must have a platform and take part in volunteer service.
The 2023 contest is July 26-29 at the Carl Perkins Center in Jackson. Gracelyn will compete in Fitness and Wellness on Wednesday evening, Evening Gown on Thursday, and Talent on Friday. She will play “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano as her talent. Saturday is the finals for the top ten contestants. A queen and four runners-up will represent the court. Also honored that evening are the People’s Choice, Miss Congeniality, and the non-finalist Interview Award.
As for the contest week, Gracelyn said, “I look forward to seeing the girls and my friends.” She said she is excited to meet the new contestants and share the learning experience and the stress of competing during the week-long activities. She is also happy to learn more about Jackson, Tennessee and the West Tennessee community.
Gracelyn has been a long-time competitor in pageants and in sports.
She was crowned Miss Houston County in 2018, Miss Houston County Fairest of the Fair in 2018, advancing her to Tennessee Fairest of the Fair, earning fourth maid among more than 50 contestants. That was the catalyst to compete in big pageants. She competed in the Miss Tennessee Teen USA in Clarksville and won Miss Bethel Volunteer in 2022 and Miss Tipton County in 2023.
In academics, she was the salutatorian of her high school graduating class. She is pursuing a degree in Pre-Professional Biology at Bethel in pursuit of a goal of becoming a medical doctor.
“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was five,” said Gracelyn. At age 12, she added the distinction of a medical specialist, a heart surgeon.

In the sixth grade, she started saving her money to attend college. With scholarship money from pageants, writing contests, and a Rotary scholarship, she is now entering the final year of her undergraduate education.
She played on the Houston County Fighting Irish ladies’ basketball and volleyball teams in athletics. The basketball team earned a 23-3 record in her senior year.
Her involvement in volleyball earned her a sports scholarship to play volleyball at Bethel University. The senior serves on the Government Student Association and as an ambassador for the University Admissions Department. She recently served in Guatemala over Spring Break along with other Bethel students involved in Global Studies at the university. It was her first international trip. There, she participated in a dental hygiene service mission at a local elementary school.
“God put me here,” said Gracelyn of attending Bethel University, where she serves as the president of the Student Government Association.
“I was all set to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.”
She had already been accepted to UTC, paid her deposits, had a roommate, and set her class schedule.
A last-minute decision by Gracelyn to phone Starla Cupples, the volleyball coach at Bethel, changed her life and her academic course.
“Bethel has changed my life. Bethel and McKenzie have my back,” said Gracelyn.
This summer, she will serve two weeks in Washington, D.C. at the Red Cross Leadership Program - an all-expense paid trip to learn about Red Cross. It will be her first visit to Washington. She will also earn scholarship money.
Participating in the Miss Tennessee Volunteer Pageant is expensive. Gracelyn works in the summer to pay for her wardrobe. The week-long event requires 24 dresses - cocktail and evening gowns, said Gracelyn. She has sponsors to help with the expenses. In addition to those in her host community of Tipton County, individuals and businesses in Houston County also assist. Those include: Creative Design, Houston County Fair Association, and Houston County Recreation Club. She said she also is greatly supported by Bethel University.
On July 26, she will be joined by other locals, including Emma Martin of McKenzie, who is Miss Fall Fest, Miss Carroll County Addi Poole of Nashville, and Miss Bethel University Kameshia Moxley, a resident of Ohio.


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