I was really nervous about this trip to Dallas. Shannon had been in Honduras and Italy the weeks before, and I received an itinerary with little time to spare. I was uncertain about exactly what to pack for the variety of events but got some great tips from former Miss Arkansas titleholders. So I made the final packing decisions early Monday morning… and ended up taking the perfect amount of clothes!
Shannon met me at the airport to begin a busy day! Within the first hour in Dallas, I had toured their beautiful home and had my first rides in a Porsche and in a Ferrari. Wow! I especially enjoyed lunch with Patti Thorn Lusk, a former Miss Arkansas who also lives in Dallas. I loved meeting another Miss Arkansas sister! After lunch, we began shopping for my interview dress. Mary Ellen VanGilder, member of the Miss Arkansas Foundation Board, joined us for shopping. I really had fun with Mary Ellen and appreciated her shopping advice!
Monday night… FOOTBALL! Yes, it was my first visit to the Dallas Cowboys magnificent football stadium. We arrived in the Skokos’s suite to eat dinner before the game started. Amazed and distracted, I gazed around the arena as I took 45 minutes to finish my meal. The game was really close because of multiple field goals from each team. However, the greatest moment occurred when Dallas recovered a fumble to secure their victory in the last minute of play. Can you imagine how it looks and sounds from a skybox as 80,000 people to jump to their feet and cheer? Awesome!
Stephanie Whitworth, one of my judges at Miss Arkansas, and Susie Morgan, a former Miss Arkansas, joined us for dinner. I ordered sea bass and of course … it was delicious! It was fun to have the chance to really talk with Stephanie, as we haven’t talked much since the Miss Arkansas after party. Then, we went to the Wylie Performing Arts Theater to watch a modern twist on The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The stage and actors were amazing!
Their response during my presentation almost brought me to tears. Before I was introduced, the superintendent was talking to the students about dreaming to be doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. He offered examples of what to say and think when ridiculed by someone else for the dreams you have. When it was my turn to speak, I brought up my interest to be a scientist! I talked about the time I spent in lab, setting things on fire and playing with acids. They oohed and aahed! Haha! Toward the end of my presentation, I asked for questions from the audience. Someone asked if I had reached my goal to become a scientist. I answered, “Yes, I graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Ouachita Baptist University.” They started clapping. They made me feel so proud. I was especially honored to receive their applause and humbled by their congratulations on my college degree. I hope I never forget that moment.
We then went back to the Wylie Theater so that I could dance for the performing arts staff. They loved my tap dance and asked several questions about Miss America. I felt very encouraged. We stopped by The Commissary for lunch … talk about a good burger! The chef, John Tesar, had recently won the Extreme Chef competition on the Food Network! Yeah … his burger was excellent!
Wednesday evening, Shannon taught me her famous lesson on table etiquette! I can now dine with confidence, regardless of the setting or guests. We then talked late into the night. I told her that was my favorite part of the week! I appreciate her insight, encouragement, and advice. I will always cherish that meaningful conversation!
Thursday, I waited in the airport as my plane was delayed for 7 hours. I was so happy to finally make it back to Arkansas because I had a busy day planned for Friday! Early Friday, I met with Laine Berry and Jason Masters for a Miss America program book photo shoot. Jason has an incredible eye for photography, and I love his high fashion expertise! I can’t wait to see the photo in the program book!
Next week will be exciting! I have several workouts and meetings with sponsors, including Tony Bowls to design some wardrobe pieces for Miss America! I will be visiting several schools such as my college roommate’s classroom! Finally… I am spending the weekend at Ouachita Baptist University and participating in several homecoming events! Tiger Tunes, a homecoming competition and legacy, will be the highlight of my week along with reuniting with many college friends!