Miss Jackson Hospitality Creates New Traditions With Her Mother While Continuing the Old

October 18, 2023

Jaidyn Thomas and Tara Patrick

Jackson State University computer science major Jaidyn Thomas serves as the 74th Miss Jackson Hospitality for the city of Jackson. As the sixth Black woman to hold the title, she became the first Miss Jackson Hospitality crown holder to participate in JSU’s homecoming parade, held last Saturday. Miss Jackson Hospitality serves as the face and voice for the Jackson tourism community, a signature program of the city’s destination organization, Visit Jackson.

“Homecoming season is an amazing thing, and since I’ve been here at Jackson State, my mother takes the week off from work every year and she comes and stays,” said Thomas about her favorite JSU tradition. “This would be her week away from the kids, and she’d come and party and love it. So, now I can spend that with her.”

Thomas expressed how celebrating homecoming with her mom, Tara Patrick, has strengthened their bond as mother and daughter. She gained a deeper connection with her, and they developed a homecoming tradition of their own.

“Last year, we started a tradition to do wine tasting, and it’s called ‘Winecoming.’ We do that during the week with immediate family and friends,” Patrick explained. “We have a sommelier come in and sample different wines, a charcuterie board, and really get to educate ourselves. It’s also a good time for fellowship and friendship.”

Thomas and her family have a growing legacy with Jackson State. Her mother was encouraged to attend JSU by her aunt, Louise Jones, and uncle, Arthur Jones, who taught at the university. Patrick labels that as one of the best decisions she made for the trajectory of her life.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Patrick graduated from JSU in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. The mother of two said she knew she wanted to share the HBCU experience with her children.

“The schools that she graduated from, we were more of the minority versus the majority. Understanding, especially from a cultural standpoint, how big of a difference it is between a PWI and an HBCU,” said Patrick. “I instilled in my children the importance of attending an HBCU because it resonates and feeds your soul in a completely different way.”

The 2023 JSU homecoming theme was “Thee Legacy Continues…” and this mother-daughter duo have been leaving quite the legacy. Thomas and Patrick both decided to pursue a career in the STEM field. Patrick is currently a manager at Texas Oncology, one of the leading oncology providers in Texas. After graduation, Thomas plans to work as an environmental data analyst to research climate change.

Now, they have also participated in the homecoming parade as pageant winners.

“When I was at Jackson State, I was Miss Insatiable [the JSU Modeling Squad], so I got to be in one of the homecoming parades. I know what that experience and excitement was like. Now, I’m able to pass that down to her,” Patrick said.

Patrick was also Miss Krimson & Kreme from 1999-2000 and was on the royal court of the 1999 coronation. Thomas was Miss Otaku from 2021-2022 and was on the royal court for the 2021 coronation.

“The legacy continues means I get to pass down experiences, traditions, moments, and memories. I’m able to build on it with not just my children but her children and her children’s children. It’s also being able to lean very heavily into the persuasion that they should go here [JSU],” Patrick joked.

Thomas and her mother agreed that their time at JSU was and has been a life-changing experience. She said she thrives on making her mother proud and is trying to convince her brother, Kingston, who is in high school, to continue the family legacy at JSU.

“I’ve had experiences, and I’d call my brother and say, ‘Hey, look at what we’re doing, we got this on the plaza,’ and he’d think it’s cool,” said Thomas. “He’s feeding into it slowly, but surely.”