Chili- and for a great cause!

Sunday morning, mom and I woke up at 5:30 AM to start cooking chili. We made four cookers of delicious chili and two cookers of rice. Of course, we also had chips, cheese, and lots of great cookies! We invited the members of First Baptist Church as well as the Stuttgart community to come eat chili after church. We offered a free meal, but asked for donations towards a new scholarship that I am creating. It is called the New Beginnings Scholarship and will be given to a first generation college student in Stuttgart High School.

We had an incredible turnout with around 125 in attendance. About 15 people assisted in the effort to make the fundraiser possible and we raised a grand total of $1,513!! I am so pleased with the outcome of the fundraiser and am so thankful for the community support! My original goal was to raise $750 and hand out one scholarship, but now that we raised double my goal... I am going to be able to hand out two scholarships!! I am so excited about meeting with the Stuttgart High School counselor and getting the applications out!

This fundraiser required an incredible amount of work, and there is no way that I could have done it alone! A huge thank you to my family for promoting the event, setting up the tables, buying and preparing the food, and cleaning up afterwards. Mom truly was the mastermind of the operation! Thank you to Mrs. LoraNelle for helping us decorate and clean-up. Thank you to Mr. Carl for helping on Sunday morning, taking photos of the event, and cleaning up afterwards. Thank you to Mrs. Tracy and Cori for baking delicious yet beautiful cookies for the event and also Mr. Lynn for the clean-up effort! Thank you to Karissa and Ashley for working so hard to put up and take down tables, Sunday morning preparation, and some laughs during the down times. Thank you to Mrs. Paula, Daniel, and Meredith for serving on Sunday. Thank you to Mrs. Mitri for lending us her cooker and Mrs. Charlotte for baking cookies. Also, thank you to everyone who donated or attended the chili lunch... couldn't have done it without all of you!!

Some of the helpers that made the chili lunch possible!

Preparing for the crowd...

Mom's recipe was perfect! So many people complimented the meal!

A great crowd!

The best part of the day... counting the money... $1,513!

Me with my friend, Jay

The crew of dedicated helpers. Thank you!

Sheridan Freshmen Academy

I had the privilege to speak to an incredible group of ninth grade students at the Sheridan Freshmen Academy. Mrs. Slocum invited me to speak to her classes and share my passion. I introduced my platform of "Second Chances: Empowering Youth to Rise Above" and discussed the effectiveness of a mentor. We also had fun with "name that tune" and interactive discussions over celebrities who have made well-known mistakes. This was a great group of kids and I look forward to hearing their feedback!

I am starting to feel very comfortable with my school presentation! Obviously, there is always room for improvement but I greatly enjoy spreading this message of hope and empowerment. It excites me to watch a few students soak in every word of my presentation and connect with my message. Inspiration is a powerful purpose and I am thankful for the opportunity to accomplish this purpose through the Miss America Organization.

January = National Mentoring Month

January = National Mentoring Month

I was elated when I noticed the front page article of the newspaper declaring January to be the National Mentoring Month! Mentoring is the key idea behind my efforts to equip at-risk students with skills, passions, and second chances. I was tickled pink when I recognized that President Obama and Arkansas Governor Beebe recognized mentoring to be equally important!
"The dedication of mentors has helped countless young men and women succeed when they might have otherwise fallen short of their full potential," Obama said. "Mentors can provide a steady presence and share their valuable knowledge and experiences. Even brief amounts of quality time set aside by these compassionate adults have lasting impact on the development of a child."

President Obama also recognizes the long-term positive affects of mentoring. "We know the difference that a responsible, caring adult can make in a child's life. Effective mentoring programs can result in better school attendance, positive student attitudes, and a reduced likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use."

January is a great month! Mentors deserve a tremendous applause as you impact the lives of others!

Me, Darlene, Sarah, and Whitney

Whitney is my best friend and roommate. We mentor a younger pair of best friends, Darlene and Sarah, through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program at Ouachita Baptist University. We often hang out together and we recently bought them matching scooters for Christmas! Together, Whitney and I model a healthy friendship with care and trust. We love these two girls!

Good Ole Stuttgart High School!

Good Ole Stuttgart High School!

Mrs. Humphrey invited me to speak to her class on Thursday. I have been working on my school presentation of my platform and was excited about the opportunity to share with my alma mater! We ate lunch together in the school cafeteria which instigated a flood of memories. Afterward lunch, I spoke to a class of seventh grade girls and a second class of high school students. I really enjoyed speaking to the students, sharing stories of my own, and endorsing second chances! The students were very involved and interested in what I had to share. I hope that they were inspired to rise above mistakes of their own and set an example for the students around them.

Part of my presentation involves discussing celebrities that have made mistakes.

Quiz time!

Great group of seventh grade girls!

Mrs. Humphrey and I

Final class of high school students... lots of fun!

Second Chances: Rwandan Style!

Second Chances: Rwandan Style!

I wanted to bring light to an incredible country that is being transformed through second chances. In 1994, the assasination of the Rwandan President sparked the Rwandan Genocide, a killing of 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in only 100 days. Since then, government has been revamped, social stability reached, and a heartwarming national forgiveness.

An award winning documentary, "As We Forgive," highlights the current state of Rwanda. Here is the synopsis for this compelling documentary:

Could you forgive a person who murdered your family? This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and Chantal—two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The subjects of As We Forgive speak for a nation still wracked by the grief of a genocide that killed one in eight Rwandans in 1994. Overwhelmed by an enormous backlog of court cases, the government has returned over 50,000 genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to destroy. Without the hope of full justice, Rwanda has turned to a new solution: Reconciliation.

But can it be done? Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Can the government expect this from its people? And can the church, which failed at moral leadership during the genocide, fit into the process of reconciliation today? In As We Forgive, director Laura Waters Hinson and narrator Mia Farrow explore these topics through the lives of four neighbors once caught in opposite tides of a genocidal bloodbath, and their extraordinary journey from death to life through forgiveness.

For more information:

Now, I am particularly intersted in Rwanda as my boyfriend, Josh Groves, will be moving to Rwanda in March to work with a non-profit organization Bridge 2 Rwanda. He will be working with the Bishop of Rwanda to train pastors in doctrine and theology. This is an incredibly important task because most pastors have a fourth grade reading level or less. He will have contact with hundreds of pastors and consequently effect thousands of Rwandans for the sake of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Rwanda is the most consencrated country in basis of population with a significantly high level of orphans due to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He has an incredible opportunity to further the kingdom of God!

Josh has been working to raise enough money to move to Rwanda for two years. He strives to raise $15,000 per year and has raised approximately 1/3 of the money for this year. If you would like more information, please read his blog ( or contact him at If you are interested in giving, please give online at and make sure the donation is directed towards Josh Groves. We are so excited about the way God is transforming Rwanda through second chances and are delighted that Josh gets to be apart of it all!

Me, Josh Groves, and Elisee (Josh's best friend and college roommate from Rwanda)

Josh and I

Musanze, Rwanda: Josh's home for the next two years (paradise, right?!)

Rwandan child. Image borrowed from B2R volunteer blog (