Great Challenges = Great Rewards. Week 17.

This week has been challenging, yet rewarding. The reality of finding time to prepare for Miss America while keeping up with Miss Arkansas responsibilities is quite difficult. In my free time, I finished my dance for Miss America and prepared for my first mock interview. The mock interview was very difficult, but I received great advice and encouragement from the panelists!

Monday, I traveled to Jonesboro for the fitting of a new dance costume! The Royal We and Clark’s Bridal have provided so much for me this year! As Shelley Kelley finished with alterations, I spent a couple of hours at the coffee shop studying for my mock interview. I will wear this costume when I debut my Miss America dance, but it will not be the costume I take to Miss America.

Mom and I drove to Clarendon on Tuesday to meet Baxter Sharp, who invited me to speak in the Clarendon and Brinkley schools. One of my former dance students, Mikayla, welcomed me to Clarendon and showed me around the school! Then, Mikayla introduced me to the entire Clarendon student body before I spoke to the K-12th grade students. It was a challenge to speak to a wide range of students, but they were so involved and well-behaved!

After eating lunch in Brinkley, we arrived at the high school for my second assembly. They were rowdy but eventually seemed to appreciate my message of second chances! They were respectful during the serious talk and asked meaningful questions! How rewarding to capture a restless audience with a relevant message! The funniest moment happened when we were playing the “Name That Tune” game and I was telling the students to listen carefully because the next song was quiet. As Whitney Houston’s famous ballad was playing, one charismatic boy in the center of the auditorium stood up and yelled the chorus with much emotion, “And I will always love yoooouuuuuuu!” All of us burst into laughter!

Wednesday, I was invited to appear on Dr. David’s show on Channel 4 during the noon hour. We were to discuss self esteem, and I was prepared to offer advice based on my past mentoring experiences. When I arrived on set, I was first told “I want you to get on air and exclaim, ‘I know I am beautiful, and I am comfortable in my skin!’” I gave a nervous laugh and instead talked about my background in mentoring. I was afraid that I had approached the problem and resolution of self-esteem issues differently than the direction of the program. When we got on air, the interview went great! I was able to share some thoughts about mentoring and building one another up. I really enjoyed answering questions from viewers and had a wonderful time on the show! I was so thankful that it all worked out… even if I never knew which camera to look at while speaking on air!

To view this interview: click here!

Dr. David and me after filming

Wednesday night after my mock interview!

As the keynote speaker, I gladly attended the Producer’s Rice Mill Annual Meeting in Stuttgart on Thursday. My dad has worked in the rice industry for years, and I was honored to speak at an event so important to him. In fact, my dad got a little choked up when introducing me. I am very thankful for my dad! I talked about the excellence of the rice industry and then shared details about my platform, “Second Chances through Mentoring.”

I ended my speech by encouraging Stuttgart citizens to attend the second annual chili lunch fundraiser benefiting the New Beginnings Scholarship. Last year, two $750 scholarships were given to first-generation college students. We will provide a free lunch and collect donations to directly benefit the scholarship fund. Chili and rice will be served from 11:30-1:30 on Sunday, November 30, at the First Baptist Church Activity Center. I hope to see you there as we provide more opportunities for students of my generation!

Friday was a hectic day. After answering phone calls, emails, and resolving calendar issues, I finally made it to Conway for the Miss University of Central Arkansas Pageant. I enjoyed eating dinner with the judges and former Miss UCA, Alicia Haflich. Ashlen Batson Thomason was my chaperone! She helped me all night, and I hope to develop her heart of service and encouragement. The Miss UCA board of directors did an outstanding job of organizing and promoting the pageant. Miss UCA is given a generous scholarship, and I was pleased to hear Morgan Holt had captured the crown. She is a beautiful girl and will be an excellent representative!

Ashlen and me

All contestants in the Miss UCA pageant
Me, Miss UCA 2012 Morgan Holt, and Miss UCA 2011 Alicia Haflich

Saturday was one of my favorite days as Miss Arkansas!! Josh and I arrived at the University House around 2:00 p.m. for the pre-game party with Chancellor Gearhart! As soon as the mascots came to the house, Mrs. Trisha from the development office pulled me aside to get some photos! The senior band members and cheerleaders showed up for a pep rally, and, of course, I knew all of the Razorback cheers! Chancellor Gearhart announced me before the crowd, and Big Red asked me to dance during “Hey Baby… Will you be my girl… bum ba ba bum…” I had so much fun!!

We then walked to the stadium and viewed the game from the Chancellor’s box… it was so nice! The Razorbacks played well against the Tennessee Volunteers with a couple of “Plays of the Week”! At halftime we visited Rick Pruitt, friend of the Miss Arkansas Organization. He said, “Oh… so you are in the Chancellor’s box with the Waltons?!” I started laughing because we didn’t even realize that we were sharing a box with the Waltons, heirs of Walmart’s Sam Walton. I responded, “I heard Kenny Chesney was at the game tonight, and I was so busy looking for him that I missed the Waltons!” I didn’t see Kenny Chesney, either.
Standing with Chancellor Gearhart during the pre-game pep rally!

I have been anticipating the upcoming week for quite some time! I have several extraordinary speaking opportunities and a “Tea Party with Miss Arkansas!” I will attend a Razorback basketball game and cheer on the Hogs, again! To conclude an amazing week, I will debut my Miss America dance on Saturday at Queen Mallard! My hometown pageant, which kicks off the week-long Wings Over the Prairie Festival, will be held at the brand new Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart. On Sunday, November 20, from 11:30 – 1:00, we are hosting the second annual chili lunch fundraiser at the First Baptist Activity Center to benefit the New Beginnings Scholarship! Hope you can make it!

2007: When I was crowned Queen Mallard!
2008: Giving up my crown as Queen Mallard!


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