Hello everyone! I am so happy to be back on the blog and returning to my routine. I just spent the last week in Orlando representing Kansas at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and had the most incredible experience of my life. No, seriously. I have never been surrounded by more encouraging, driven, entertaining, gorgeous, smart, humble young women in my 17 years of living. And let me tell you, saying goodbye to those girls was NOT easy.
Recap: I was crowned Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen on June 11 after my second year of competing for the title. We are the “little sister” program to the Miss America Organization, and one of the largest scholarship providers to young women in the world!
As a state titleholder, I was blessed with the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. I only had 6 weeks to prepare, and that meant choosing a new talent song, mock interviews, new gowns, meeting sponsors, and breaking in my heels. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to spend a week with 50 of the nation’s most talented and accomplished young women. Thinking about that intimidated me!!!! However, I was determined to put my best foot forward by investing in friendships and working hard during rehearsals so I could gain as much as possible from the experience.
Jenna from California was my roommate, and she instantly became my other half. We ate breakfast together in mornings, walked to rehearsal together in the afternoon, and binged on chocolate while having heart-to-heart talks late at night. It was all a part of God’s perfect plan that we became besties since I am going to school in California next fall.
Heather from Texas was my breath of fresh air. We connected before the pageant after discovering we shared a love for Jesus, coffee, and blogging (read hers here!) She has the sweetest heart and was always there to listen and provide encouragement right when I needed it the most. She showed Jesus to our entire group and lead prayers before each performance, which is why it was no surprise when she won the Spirit of America Award, also known as Miss Congeniality.
Stella from Mississippi was my saving grace. Not only is she a knockout and has the CUTEST southern accent ever, but she also is one of the most selfless people I encountered. I don’t know how many times she helped others curl or tease their hair when she still wasn’t completely finished getting ready herself. She also was a finalist for the Teens in Action award!
Kendra from Michigan kept us on our toes….or in her case, on our bunions 😉 She was one of the youngest contestants, but you would never know because she carries herself with such maturity. With that being said, she also loves to have a good time and make everyone laugh. Thank you, Kendra, for being the life of the party.
Chapel from Kentucky kept me sane. Since our states are next to each other alphabetically, we stood in line next to each other often and were also in the same preliminary group (#RedGroup amiright?!) She always had a story to keep us entertained while we were waiting to practice or go on stage, and helped me find the earrings I was constantly losing.
Kylene from Wisconsin was the kind, adorable blonde with the rocking talent who’s too humble to admit how awesome she is. Madeline from Utah was the beautiful, elegant, and graceful one who never said anything negative about anyone else. Jordan from Indiana was the one with the adorable laugh who was always there when you needed her, Kelsey from Georgia was the one with the voice so incredible your mouth dropped to the floor, Rae’Lee from Wyoming was the girlfriend who always had your back to zip you up or calm you down, and Kate from Rhode Island was the cutie patootie who could accurately impersonate Elle Woods and Bernie Sanders within the same sentence. These are just a few of the young women who impacted my life this week in tremendous ways, far more than they know.
To Nicole, the new Miss America’s Outstanding Teen: We are soooo proud of you and happy YOU were the one chosen to represent all of us!!!! You were sweet, kind and genuine; start to finish, no matter the circumstances. You are incredibly beautiful, but what’s even more special than your pretty curls or your cute face is your heart. You truly care about your platform and spreading kindness, and that is evident to everyone you interact with. I am so happy for you and can’t wait to see what your year holds.
To all of the volunteers, sponsors, family members, and friends: Thank you for making this week possible for me as well as the others. Without you, I would have never made it this far and been given this opportunity. Thank you to my ED, Melissa, for always encouraging me to stay true to myself and work hard (and for bringing me a chocolate bar after every prelim to visitation!) I owe an especially big thank you to our hostesses, security, and choreographers, who sacrificed their time and energy (let’s be honest, LOTS of energy) to keep all 50 of us quiet and focused. We appreciate you caring and sacrificing your time to invest in us.
To my MAOTeen Class of 2016: I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls. I’m not joking when I say the majority of the time I forgot we were even at a competition! It felt like a super fun girls conference where I got to dance in heels, laugh my head off, eat cake at every meal, and occasionally go on stage in a pretty dress. I am so proud of each and every one of you and thankful we were all brought together during this specific year for one specific reason. I can’t wait to see you all throughout the year and cheer you on as your represent your state and this organization!!!!!
Although I did not make the Top 11, I am leaving Florida a new woman: completely changed and inspired. I walked away with $1,500 in scholarships and a medal for winning 4th place in Children’s Miracle Network Hospital fundraising. I now have the pleasure to serve the state of Kansas for the next 10 months and speak out for the victims of sex trafficking that cannot speak for themselves. I am moving forward and bettering myself every day. I can’t wait to compete for Miss America someday and continue my journey with the Miss America Organization, hopefully with the MAOTeen Class of 2016 by my side.