Miss Chattanooga USA

Miss Chattanooga, Makayla Johnson, smiles for a posed photo while on the UTC campus. Monday, November 21, 2022.

UTC fifth-year senior and psychology major, Makayla Johnson, hopes to inspire youth in her role as Miss Chattanooga USA the way her mom inspired her growing up.

Encouraged to become a part of the pageant world by Miss Mississippi 2021, Bailey Anderson, Johnson has been Miss Chattanooga USA for a couple of months and decided this would be a great opportunity to build her own platform and give back to the community.

Johnson grew up in Marshall County, Tenn. with a single mom of three kids. Her mom worked at a factory for a while and found that she wanted a better life for herself and her kids, which prompted her to go to school to become a respiratory therapist.

“I have watched her do whatever is necessary for us to have a better life,” Johnson said. “I am always grateful for that.”

Johnson was inspired by her mom’s perseverance and strength and hopes to set the same kind of example for others as her mom did for her. 

“I want to be able to inspire,” Johnson said. “I want to be able to encourage…and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Johnson has seen first hand how difficult it can be for people to chase their dreams when they are struggling with personal, mental or physical health problems. Between watching her mom sacrifice so much for her family and battling her own issues, Johnson grew up knowing she wanted to help others somehow.

“I want to inform more people of my background to show that I’m more relatable than you think,” Johnson said. “With a background of minority and mental health, I’m advocating for those things because I truly want to bring awareness to it.”

Being Miss Chattanooga USA is allowing Johnson to positively impact the lives of those around her by being a good role model for kids and an advocate for mental illness awareness.

“Using this platform, pushing resources, pushing everything like that,” Johnson said. “I feel like it gives people the opportunity to be informed, but also use the resources that are available to them.”

When suffering with her own mental health issues, Johnson found it difficult to figure out how to get help. A big part of her mission as Miss Chattanooga USA is to give people resources they can use to help them work through their problems.

“Without those resources, I would have never even known,” Johnson said. “I would probably still be struggling to this day.”

According to Johnson, she is always striving to help others and wants to go on to become a certified life specialist focused on helping kids in hospitals or schools.

“I want to inspire youth,” Johnson said. “I want to show them that you can accomplish anything.”

Through her work with kids and Miss Chattanooga USA, Johnson hopes to always be an advocate encouraging others and carrying on the legacy by which she was raised.

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