June 28, 2021: By Jacob Couch – Office of Communications and Public Engagement
Serving others has never been a chore for Liberty University graduate Tatum Sheppard (’20), the new Miss Virginia. It is a passion that she nurtured at LU through various activities on and off campus.
âMy time at Liberty shaped me as a person, as a Christian and as a godly woman,â she said. âIt wasn’t just about graduating, although the training I received was excellent. Getting my education with a biblical worldview was essential in maturing me and teaching me to find my identity in Christ and not in the things I do.
As part of her reign responsibilities leading up to the Miss America 2022 pageant in December, Sheppard will participate in an “ABC School Tour,” visiting 70 different schools in the fall to promote her social impact initiative “Mentoring Matters” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization. During the tour, she will also talk to students about drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
Sheppard was involved in the organization as a big sister in high school and college; she completed part of Liberty’s Christian Community Service (CSER) hours requirement with the program as well as with Thomas Road Baptist Church. She said she understands the impact a mentor can have and is grateful to have attended a university with a long tradition of service.
âI was so grateful that I graduated from a college that taught me not only what I needed to know in order to be successful in my career, but also how I was going to be successful as a person and as a person. as a Christian, âshe said.
Sheppard received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater from Liberty and also worked as a tour guide at the Hancock Welcome Center, two areas that proved to be training grounds for her success in the Miss Virginia Pageant.
âMy drama degree has been used well this week,â she said with a laugh. âWe had a share of talent in the competition which represents 35% of our score. I played a voice on Broadway, so I was able to use all of my training (from college).
Sheppard said working as a tour guide at the visitor center has helped her identify with all ages.
âWhen you’re a tour guide you have a wide range of people you talk to,â she said. “It could be anyone from a younger brother to a grandfather who brought his granddaughter, and these are the types of people you need to be able to talk to as Miss Virginia.”
In addition to her training at Liberty, Sheppard said she was trained by the best mentor she could have: her mother Kellye, who was crowned Miss America in 1987.
âI have watched my mom my whole life, and it impressed me,â she said. âMy mom is the best role model I can ask for. She’s so pious and she’s so devoted. She was also crucial in teaching me where my identity should be.
Sheppard said that through her mother’s professional theatrical experiences as well as her father’s coaching profession, she was exposed early in life to a variety of different interests for which she is still grateful today.
âI did theater, played basketball and volleyball. I did everything, “she said.” It made my siblings and I very well balanced, but we always knew how to tie our identity not to one of the things we do, but to who we do. are in Christ. “
Sheppard said that once her competition is over, she hopes she will be remembered for her character and passion for showing the love of Christ to those she has met along the way.
âEvery person that I come in contact with, I want them to be seen and known,â she said. âI want to see people as God sees us and I want to leave that impression on them. “
Sheppard’s heart for serving Christ was seen day in and day out in Liberty by Linda Cooper, chair of the theater arts department.
âI’m so proud of this achievement from Tatum, but I’m not surprised,â Cooper said. âShe is a talented, intelligent and confident young woman who speaks boldly of her faith and walks through all the doors that God has opened for her. We look forward to a wonderful future for her and are happy to have been a small part of her journey.