Miss Virginia 2021 shares passion for mentoring, impact of Liberty University on her path leading up to her crowning moment

Virginia News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Liberty University alum Tatum Sheppard is ready to make the Star City her new home after being crowned as Miss Virginia 2021 at the Berglund Center over the weekend!

Sheppard — the now-former Miss Central Virginia — sat down with WFXR News’ Hazelmarie Anderson and Colleen Guerry on Monday, June 21 to discuss her path leading up to her victory as Miss Virginia, as well as her plans moving forward

Sheppard’s social impact initiative is “Mentoring Matters,” so not only is she excited for the Virginia ABC tour so she can visit schools throughout the Commonwealth, but she is also eager to teach students how to mentor or be mentored, which she practices through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

“As a Big Sister in the program, my Little Sister, when she was 11, signed up to be mentored because she was a cancer survivor, so she needed somebody to look up to, to help restore her confidence, get back to normalcy, and I was able to provide that for her and we live in different cities now, but we still keep in touch because everything is so virtual now that, even if you’re not in person, you can still have a relationship.”

Sheppard says the Little Brothers and Sisters enrolled in the program sometimes feel that adults don’t know how they feel, so for the college-aged students in the program, it’s not hard to think back on how they felt in their pre-teen years.

You can apply to enroll yourself or your child in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program by following this link.

As for her own education, according to Sheppard, not only did Liberty University allow her to pursue a musical theatre degree — which helped her with the talent portion of the Miss Virginia competition — but it provided her with an education from a biblical worldview, helping to shape her into the woman she is today.

In addition, thanks to the $21,500 scholarship Sheppard won through the Miss Virginia competition, she says she is practically debt-free going into the next chapter of her life, which enables her to pursue her passions without being held back by her student loans.

Sheppard, however, is not the only woman in her family to don a crown. Her mother, Kellye Cash, was Miss Tennessee 1986 and later Miss America 1987. Sheppard’s sister also competed several times for the Miss Tennessee organization.

“I heard this quote the other day — ‘strong women raise strong women’ — and I just hope that I am a testament to that and can honor my mom’s legacy at the 100th anniversary of Miss America,” Sheppard said.

Since Sheppard spent her college years in Virginia, poured her efforts into the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Central Virginia, and has built relationships and a community in the Commonwealth, she says she is proud to represent Virginia moving forward.

For young girls who aspire to follow Sheppard’s path, she offered the following message: “You don’t need to worry about filling in someone else’s shoes. Make your own footprints in the sand. Everybody has a different journey and this is absolutely attainable.”

After graduating from Liberty University last year, Sheppard worked in a plethora of positions, from pool attendant to a marketing role to a nanny to an actor in a professional show.

Next on Sheppard’s plate: moving into her Roanoke apartment, making appearances around the Commonwealth, preparing for her Virginia ABC tour in the fall, and gearing up to compete for the title of Miss America 2022 in December.

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