Suzanne Shelley, Ms. Senior America 2006
Suzanne Shelley has had a very exciting, challenging and rewarding life. She earned a BS in English Education with a minor in music from Troy State University. After teaching high school English, she earned a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling from East Texas State University. Post-graduate work was done in Psychometry at Troy State University. Her counseling career included: high school guidance counselor, youth/family counselor with mental health facilities, and family counselor at a psychiatric hospital. Most recently, she was a counselor and assessment coordinator in the Wallace College Counseling Center.
In addition to her professional modeling career, her many interests include reading, traveling, oil painting, collecting art and antiques, playing contract and duplicate bridge, ballroom dancing, excercising, and directing and judging beauty pageants. She also continues to participate in many civic and social organizations. Having returned to Hattiesburg, Mississippi for retirement, Suzanne has been married to her high school sweetheart Ken for over forty years and has two sons and four grandchildren. Each advancing decade has brought a myriad of new experiences, exciting challenges, and rewarding opportunites. Having retired from her full-time counseling career, she now has the time and renewed energy to seek opportunites that utilize her experience, skills, and talents in volunteer work.
The Senior America adventure began a year and a half ago when Suzanne's husband Ken entered her in the Mississippi pageant. After being crowned Ms. Mississippi, Suzanne learned that the next step was the national pageant in Las Vegas. That week was filled with rehearsals, parties, balls, dinners and more importantly, a time of camraderie, sharing experiences and making new friendships with women from across America. Immediately upon being chosen as Ms. Senior America 2006, the whirlwind week escalated with numerous interviews and photo sessions for newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television. Other activities followed throughout the year including performing in Cameo Showcases, retirement homes, senior centers, many state pageants, and several venues on the Nashville tour including the historic Ryman Theater, Opryland Plaza, and the Wildhorse Saloon. Suzanne was recognized by a proclomation from the Lamar County Board of Supervisors in Mississippi for her exemplary accomplishments. She also was chosen as an outstanding alumna and featured in recruitment advertising for Troy State University.
Appearing at health fairs, charity fundraising events, grand opening ribbon-cutting of new businesses, charity balls, groundbreaking ceremony for a new orphanage, parades and judging pageants were other activities that made this one of the busiest years ever in Senior America. When asked by a reporter recently to identify the high point of her year as Ms. Senior America, Suzanne responded: "My very busy year has brought a myriad of opportunites and blessings, one of the greatest being the friendships I have made. My life has been changed forever, for I have had the honor and privilege to bring recognition to senior women in this celebration of the 'age of elegnce'. Performing and giving service to others through volunteerism and mentoring enhances the lives of all we touch. In addition, it enables us as participants to achieve our personal, individual dreams and aspirations and provides a myriad of venues for our own spiritual journey of service.
My heartfelt thanks go to our beloved founder, Dr. Al Mott, and to the Mississippi state director Gladys Hughes, for her sage advice that steered me through many unsure moments and provided answers to the many questions that arose throughout the year. To all the friends who have supported me with their attendance to the many activities and celebrated my reign with me, I am thankful and indebted. To my husband Ken who entered me in the pageant, you have been my greatest source of strength, support and encouragement. My thanks, too, to the many state directors who included me in their state pageants, treated me royally, and made possible the pinnacle of my year- getting to know exceptional women across the nation. The Senior America sisterhood brings a caring closeness, loving appreciation, and a very special camraderie. The phenomenal women I have met this year have truly become family and life-long friends. Ladies: you are a treasure and have greatly enriched my life. Thank you Senior America for the honor and privilege to represent and celebrate senior women everywhere.