The New Beginnings Scholarship Recipients!

It was so good to back at home for the Stuttgart High School Awards Ceremony. I was so excited about finally announcing the "New Beginnings Scholarship" recipients. I have spent months planning, fundraising, advertising, and ultimately selecting two applicants to receive a $750 scholarship each. I consider it a pure blessing to be involved in a scholarship process and give the invaluable gift of educational opportunity. This scholarship ties directly into my platform of "Second Chances: Empowering Youth to Rise Above." The purpose of this scholarship is to provide opportunity to "first-generation college students," implying that the parents of these applicants have not received a bachelor's degree from a university. I was thrilled to receive so many great applications, but two applicants stood out above the rest. Jalyn Henderson and Candace Amos exhibited incredible leadership, academia, service, and school involvement! I wish the best of luck to Jalyn and Candace! There is no doubt that you will make a difference in the lives of those around you!

Candace Amos, myself, and Jalyn Henderson

Below is the article sent to the Stuttgart Daily Leader:

Candace Amos and Jalyn Henderson were named as recipients of the New Beginnings Scholarship on Thursday, April 28, at the Stuttgart High School Awards Program. From a pool of ten applicants, Amos and Henderson were selected the top two, and each will receive $750 in scholarship funds. Applicants were confined to those considered “first-generation college students.” These students come from homes where parents did not receive a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.

Amos, daughter of Joyce Fitzpatrick, plans to attend Arkansas State University and major in Pre-Pharmacy. Amos exhibits impressive school involvement in serving as 2010 Homecoming Queen, Senior Class Reporter, National Honor Society Parliamentarian, and President of Mu Alpha Theta. When asked to tell in her own words the meaning of “leadership”, she responded, “The ability to inspire others and be a great role model defines leadership.”

Henderson, daughter of James and Demeytres Henderson, plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas and major in Biology. Henderson excels in academics and extracurricular activities, as she was named Girls’ State Delegate, Outstanding Senior, All-Region Band Member, and Student Council Reporter. Henderson makes service a high priority, serving at the church food pantry every month. “Although assisting in the food pantry is not the easiest job, it is delightful to know that I am being a part of helping the community in alleviating hunger.”

The New Beginnings Scholarship was made possible through private donations, a chili fundraiser in January at First Baptist Church, and overwhelming community support. Kristen Glover, 2007 graduate of Stuttgart High School, brainstormed ways to impact her community after seeing the need for additional opportunities and second chances for her generation. “Although some people may have lost hope in my generation, these girls defy that social expectation. Amos and Henderson possess extraordinary leadership and service qualities. Given the opportunity to complete their education, I know that these girls will change the world!”

Glover posts frequent stories and pictures on her blog ( as she continues to promote her personal platform, “Second Chances: Empowering Youth to Rise Above.” The current Miss Ouachita Baptist University, Glover will be competing for the title of Miss Arkansas in July. She plans to continue the New Beginnings Scholarship for many years to come, encouraging first-generation college students by awarding financial assistance.

The Bismarck Bunch!

I was delighted when my best friend and roommate, Miss Moore, invited me to her third grade class at Bismarck Elementary School. This was my first time reading the book, "How Full is Your Bucket?" to third graders... the oldest bunch yet! They followed along great with the story and understood the lesson of being nice to others while filling our buckets. Miss Moore explained third grade to be the grade of bullies since some boys grow faster than others. I never realized how well this book addresses bullying... a lesson they needed to hear!

Including today's visit to Bismarck, I have shared my platform of "Second Chances: Empowering Youth to Rise Above" in 12 cities across the state of Arkansas. I think it is highly important to have an age and event specific message while keeping the theme of good choices, second chances, and mentoring through obstacles. If you need a guest speaker for a banquet, classroom, civic club meeting, or youth group... I would love to come speak! Email me ( and we will work out the details!

Everybody knew the answer to my question. "What did you learn about the bucket?"
Third graders!
Empty bucket... enough said.
The perfect "full bucket" face
The best student teachers, Miss Luff and Miss Moore

My Bucket is Overflowing!

This week, I have had the privilege to speak to four elementary classrooms and share my favorite children's book, "How Full is Your Bucket?" It is a book about how your choices affect others. If you are nice, your invisible bucket and the bucket of those you are helping fills with water. A full bucket means you are happy!

After getting caught in traffic and arriving 30 minutes late, I spoke to first graders at Magnet Cove Elementary school on Tuesday. They were a very interactive bunch and completely enthralled with my crown. After the book, I asked if they had any questions. Every child raised their hand with the same question, "how full is my bucket?" All of them answered, "so full it is overflowing!" Afterwards, they asked for my autograph on notebook paper and individually hugged me before I left the classroom. Such a precious bunch!

On Thursday, I spoke to a kindergarten and first grade class at Lake Hamilton Primary School. This is a beautiful school with great children. The kindergarten class screamed "drip, drip, drip" every time the bucket lost or gained water. Then, Principle Smalling embarrassed a little boy when he asked if he thought I was pretty. The little boy blushed and said, "I already have a girlfriend." haha! With the first graders, the students were intelligent and responsive. When I finished reading the book, I asked for a show of hands of those who had an overflowing bucket. Everybody except one boy raised his hand. I prompted the single boy on why his bucket wasn't full. His reasoning, "My bucket only overflows when I ride my dirt bike."

Children are so precious! I am starting to learn how important it is to invest in children at such a young age. I love sharing my message of choices and consequences with these students. Thank you to the Miss Arkansas organization for giving me a platform and opportunity to invest in young children while visiting multiple classrooms across Arkansas!

Magnet Cove Elementary School

The face we make when our buckets are empty! :(

Lake Hamilton Kindergarten Class

Lake Hamilton First Grade Class

New Beginnings Scholarship

I am so excited about the opportunity to give two scholarships to 2011 Stuttgart High School graduates! Both scholarship recipients will be first generation college students, meaning that neither parent (or one parent in a single parent home) has finished a Bachelor's degree from a university. This scholarship's purpose is to offer a unique opportunity to invest in the future of our students.

The money was raised through a chili lunch fundraiser and overwhelming local support. A non-biased committee will review each scholarship application and select two recipients before May. We will hand out two $750 scholarships in two installments ($375 per semester for your freshmen year).

The scholarship application is an online survey and can be accessed at the below link. The answers to your survey will be sent directly to my email and kept completely confidential. The final day to complete the scholarship will be April 20, 2011. Please email me with any questions that you may have ( Good luck to all 2011 high school graduates!!!

Just Say No!

Perritt Elementary participated in the annual "Just Say No" Drug Free Walk. We started in the school's parking lot with a pep rally. Alyse Eady, Miss Arkansas, performed a ventriloquism act and spoke to the crowd. Then, we walked to the Sifting Herald Newspaper parking lot and had another "Just Say No" pep rally. I was extremely impressed with the turnout of parents, policeman, high school students, band members, cheerleaders, mayor and city officials, and community supporters. I loved talking with the students and participating in such an important event! I hope Perritt invites me back to visit... it was so much fun!

Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady, the Principle of Perritt Elementary, Wanda O'Quinn, and me

Just say no!

With a great group of students

Walking for a cause!

My Last Day as Miss Cotton Belle

On Saturday night, I gave up my crown to the new Miss Cotton Belle, Hannah Billingsley! It was great to be back with the Cotton Belle family and spend time with my teen queen, Madison Fuller. I attended interviews Saturday afternoon, dinner with the judges, and performed that night at the pageant. Busy day... but so much fun! We had a great group of contestants and I am so excited for the new Miss Cotton Belle. Hannah has worked hard to come this far and deserves every bit of her new title! Good luck to you in the future!

Madison Fuller, Miss Cotton Belle Outstanding Teen

The winning interview, Hannah Billingsley!

Congratulations to all of our winners!

As I was giving my farewell speech, I reminded the audience of my journey to Miss Arkansas. Before winning Miss Cotton Belle, I had competed in seven preliminary pageants over the course of two years. The first year, I compared losing a preliminary to getting kicked in the gut. It wasn't until the second year that I started to value the practice of preliminaries and enjoy the process. I believe that the practice and strengthening of character is what propelled me to finish as third-runner up to Miss Arkansas. I have experienced tremendous personal growth in interview skills, public speaking, passion for my platform, character, and identity. I also have recieved $8,000 in scholarship that has paid for my entire senior year at college and will pay for part of my first year in pharmacy school. This is what the Miss America organization is all about: providing scholarship and opportunities for young women to grow into incredible young women!