Outside Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama, the sky was pouring buckets of rain. Inside, the only water found was in the tears of joy running down Ashlyn Nichols’ face as she was crowned Miss University of Mobile 2022.
Nichols, a native Missourian, says, “I started crying immediately. I felt so unworthy and undeserving. When Abigail (Breland, Miss UM 2020-2021) placed the crown on my head, I started thanking the Lord over and over.”
For the next year, Nichols will represent the University of Mobile at numerous events, including the Miss Alabama competition in July. Participation in this is the preliminary to the Miss America competition.
Nichol’s platform as Miss UM is “HeadBand Together.” HeadBand Together’s purpose is to educate people about street harassment and how to fight against it. She says 78% of women face street harassment daily, with 13% of girls being catcalled by age 10. The symbol of her platform is a knotted headband with the slogan “knotanobject.”
“Objectification is normalized in society, but just because something is normalized does not make it right. I want every person to know their value because they are made in the image of God,” she says.
“I also want them to know what to do when they see someone experiencing street harassment. I’m hoping to equip men and women to identify and to be able to report it, so it stops happening.”
Nichols is excited about the future. Her schedule will be hectic, but she believes God prepared her for this exact moment. All the activities and events she participated in as a University of Mobile student equipped her for this new role, as well as her involvement as a high school student in Distinguished Young Women.
Distinguished Young Women is a national scholarship program that inspires young women to be confident in who they are and prepares them for success in the future. Nichols won the 2018 Missouri title and advanced to the national program in Mobile, Alabama.
It was DYW that led Nichols to the University of Mobile. In their spare time, the competitors toured multiple universities.
“I really love this school,” Nichols says. “The faculty and staff were so sweet. They just welcomed me, and I have been at home ever since.”
Home is where the heart is, and during her years at the university, Nichols has grown more at home and in love with the Christ-centered university.
At UM, Nichols has been active in multiple programs and organizations. She has been a UM Ambassador, worked as a marketing intern and a student life coordinator. Currently, while getting her Master of Science in Leadership and Communication, she is a graduate assistant. As a GA, she mentors female students daily.
Nichols explains, “Working in all of the departments has prepared me for this moment. In fact, I will be applying all these skills into my one role as Miss UM.”
Her love for God and the university motivates her to be the best Miss UM she can be. Nichols recalls how the faculty, staff and students invested in her life. They talked, taught and ministered to her.
Because of that, she says, during the crowning ceremony, “I couldn’t help but cry.”
Also earning honors at the Miss University of Mobile competition on Jan. 15 were:
First runner-up was Claire Wood from Ozark, Alabama.
Second runner-up was Clara Rebekah Hicks from Franklin, Alabama.
Michaella Johnson from Van Wert, Ohio, won the talent portion of the completion.