One on one with Haley Wheeler
Miss Kentucky opens up about her Breathitt relations
Reports fond memories visiting our city and county
The Jackson-Breathitt County Times-Voice is a small newspaper. This isn’t plowing very fertile ground with any of you who both read us now and have over the course of your lifetimes.
We don’t get the opportunity to interview famous people very often. When we got the chance to interview the newly crowned “Miss Kentucky,” you can imagine our excitement.
Lucky for us, Miss Kentucky is Haley Wheeler. Though she isn’t from Jackson, Kentucky, she comes from quite a few Breathitt families. We are proud to claim her.
We are providing for you the first interview done with her (we believe) since her getting crowned. As is the paper’s custom, our questions will be headed “JTV” and her responses will be headed “Miss Kentucky” in recognition of this esteemed and important title she has won for herself. We will so refer to her simply because she has earned the right to be so addressed.
Please enjoy this interview. We were proud to bring it to you.
JTV: First, tell us about your family in Breathitt, Kentucky and your favorite memories coming to Breathitt to visit?
Miss Kentucky: I come from the Gross and Neace families as well as the Wheelers. Pretty much the entire expanse of my family resides in Breathitt County, Kentucky.
I spent the vast majority of my childhood visiting with my relations in the mountains. My fondest memories of childhood were spent in Breathitt playing in the creek and eating great food cooked by my grandparents.
My papaw, Floyd P. Gross, is not only the man with whom I shared many Little Debbie banana/marshmallow cream pies on the porch; he’s also the man who inspired my interest in community service projects. I have enjoyed working with projects benefiting senior citizens both in pageantry and in my everyday life.
JTV: Tell us about how long you have worked the pageant circuit in order to attain the crown and title of Ms. Kentucky?
Miss Kentucky: I’ve been in pageants for 8-years, total; 6 of them being in the Miss America Organization competing in Miss Kentucky. It’s been 6-years of immense growth and learning. I can’t say enough about how much persistence in life benefits the persistent.
JTV: Where does Miss Kentucky go from here?
Miss Kentucky: I will compete in the Miss America Competition in December of this year. It will be aired on NBC and the pageant takes place at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Connecticut.
JTV: What are your future plans and where do you plan on working after all of this is complete?
Miss Kentucky: I would like to first express this whole thing is beyond exciting. It’s truly the most highly cherished experience in my life, maybe only rivaled by graduating with my Master’s Degree as a first-generation college student.
Since I finished all of my required schooling, winning the scholarship of $18,000 will go toward my student loans. It may also inspire me to go back to school to earn a Doctorate and become a college professor.
In the end, I acquired my degree in speech-language pathology (SLP) and I hope to work in a medically based setting with older patients after I’m done with my year of service. If anyone reading this should be in the need of a SLP (a.k.a. “speech therapist) when my year as Miss Kentucky terminates, don’t be afraid to call.
I have always wanted to work in the medical field as a speech pathologist. It is my dream to medically help people.
I look forward to the day I get to use my degree. I badly want to help the people most deserving and desirous of my skills and abilities. I will use my skills and abilities, as well as I am capable, to help those who entrust themselves to my care.
I’m so happy the Miss Kentucky award will help me pay a large portion of my existing loans. That’s all thanks to generous scholarship donors and sponsors who believe in the Miss Kentucky program.
Thank you so much for taking so much interest in me and my achievement. Hug my family for me when you see them.
As for the Times-Voice, we believe in this particular Miss Kentucky. We greatly appreciate her taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our newspaper’s questions. We are sure her many Breathitt County relations couldn’t be any more proud.
Note: Mr. Long is an award-winning Kentucky journalist recognized for excellence in both writing and reporting by the Kentucky Press Association.