Traci Rouse

Vice President of Marketing, Merit Health Wesley in Hattiesburg 

What advice would you give young girls today?
I would challenge young women to constantly look for what’s good in a situation or in a person, instead of looking for what’s wrong. Secondly, you want to surround yourself with people who support you and love you and build you up. 

Best advice woman has ever given you? 
Recently my favorite advice is from someone I’ve never met. Maya Angelou said “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I think this is great advice for women of all ages. My mom always told me “don’t sweat the small stuff” and that is some great advice to remember on a daily basis.  

What does it take to be a strong woman leader? 
I believe all strong leaders know their strengths and their weaknesses. The best of leaders make their team stronger by finding team members who are strong in what they are weak in.  

What is one event you could point to in your life that got you to where you are today? 
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one event but I can name a series of family members, teachers and mentors throughout my life that have shared life lessons with me and helped encourage me to think beyond the status quo. 

Who is your female role model? 
She won’t like that I’m calling her out but it’s true…for years I’ve told Susan Slaughter that I want to be her when I grow up. She is smart, strong, kind and gracious to all others she comes in contact with on a daily basis.   

You get to share a meal with a group of women (deal or alive), who would they be and why? 
Oprah Winfrey – The woman has done it all and I would be lucky to listen to her lessons of life. Reese Witherspoon – She seems fun and real…two of my favorite personality traits. Lady Gaga – She thinks differently and I think it would be so interesting to look a things from her perspective. The group of friends I mention in the next question would have to be there too. I can’t have dinner with Oprah and not invite them!

Who is your female superhero? 
This list could go on forever. I have a group of friends who are superheroes on a daily basis. They are rock stars at work, great moms and wives, and give of their time to make Hattiesburg a better place to live. I don’t know how they get it all done and still have time to hang out with me. ;) 

You can swap places with any one woman for a day, who would it be? 
I’m going back to Oprah on this one. She has experienced life on another level. How cool would be it be to walk in her shoes for a day. 

Favorite memory of mother/grandmother/great-grandmother? 
My Grandmother Holmes would let me drive her car (before I was old enough). I wasn’t even tall enough but that was okay because she kept a phone book in the driver’s seat so she could see over the steering wheel. She was a pretty cool granny. She even sat in the back seat so she didn’t cramp my style. 

Best childhood memory? 
On Friday nights, my brother and I would watch wrestling on TV. Who knows why we thought Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were entertaining but it was ritual every Friday night. 

Favorite actress? 
This changes as I watch different movies but I think Emma Stone is unique and great at her craft. 

What is one item you can’t live without? 
I’m ashamed to say it but it’s my cell phone. It keeps me connected to work, friends and family. It also serves as an entertainment hub for Rebecca when we’re on a long drive or when dinner out is taking longer than we thought it would.

Favorite day? 
Saturday…isn’t that everyone’s favorite day?

Favorite color? 

What was the most memorable gift you ever received?
My daughter Rebecca is the best gift I’ve ever received. We waited eight years to receive this gift. She was our little miracle and we don’t mind treating her like it.

What’s your secret skill? 
I can sing…but I rarely do…unless I’m in the car. 

Skill most like to master? 
I would love to play the piano. 

If you could jump into a pool of anything, what would it be? 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a gold medal for? 
Trampoline jumping…we have one in the back yard and I like to have competitions with my little girl. 

How do you relax after a hard day? 
I like to pour a glass of wine and turn Alexa on so Rebecca can dance while I cook dinner. It’s even better when Wes cooks dinner, then I can do some dancing too. 

What do you like to do in your free time? 
I love to travel. It can be to somewhere close like New Orleans, but getting out of town with my family is my favorite pastime.