Rest and Reward! Weeks 27 and 28!

Ah … it has been so nice to rest and relax after Miss America!  I have had several days to sleep until noon and to catch up with friends.  I just can’t believe January is almost over! 

My first appearance after Miss America occurred on Thursday as I met with the Arkansas Rice Federation to film a video.  They had invited me to an event that didn’t work with my schedule so they arranged for me to film a video introduction, instead.  In the video, I said, “I am thankful to come from a family where my dad works in the rice industry and my mom knows how to incorporate rice into every meal!”  It was fun!

Saturday, I packed up and drove to El Dorado for the Miss South Arkansas and Miss Ouachita River Pageants.  I have attended these pageants 5 times out of the past 6 years, so I was excited to return as Miss Arkansas!  We first met with the judges, directors, and queens for lunch at Papa Poblana’s.  They were so sweet!  They welcomed Ashton Campbell, Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen, and me with a message on the marquee and flowers on our table!  After lunch, we headed to the fantastic new auditorium at El Dorado High School for the afternoon and evening competitions.  The evening competition sold out of tickets, and I was pleased to see so many El Dorado citizens in the audience. 

Congratulations to the new Miss South Arkansas, Lauren Howell, and the new Miss Ouachita River, Rosalyn Taylor!  I was delighted for these girls since they are both poised and talented!  I have a feeling that the 2012 Miss Arkansas Pageant is going to be very exciting!

Sunday, my parents and I spent the day at Oaklawn Park Race Track!  We had SO much fun!!  They first treated us to a lunch with delicious blackberry cobbler!  Unfortunately, it was very foggy and we had a difficult time seeing the far side of the race track.  I blame the fog on why I lost several horse bets.  When I visited the announcer’s box above the track, they commented that the National Horse Racing Channel was having a slow day because of the fog and needed Miss Arkansas on air to add interest!  Haha!  I put the headphones over my crown and gave a quick “hello” from Hot Springs! 

Later, I was interviewed in the paddocks before the featured race, the American Beauty Race. The interview was on all the televisions around the racing arena and seemed to draw a lot of attention.  Asked if I had been given any fashion advice before coming to the races, I responded, “A former Miss Arkansas told me not to wear high heel shoes for two reasons.  ‘As you walk across the dirt track to hand out the awards, your heels would sink into the dirt.  Also, you don’t want to look like a giant standing beside the jockeys!’”  After the American Beauty Race, I moved to the winner’s circle to present the trophy to the victorious jockey.  He observed, “I don’t look bad beside you … I am not that short!”  Haha - I was a little embarrassed! 

This past Thursday, I headed to the Arkansas State Capitol to be photographed with the Governor as he signed a proclamation in honor of National Mentoring Month!  Not only did I appreciate his recognition on the power of a mentor, but also I met many individuals who are making a difference through mentoring!  I really enjoyed visiting with this group!

I then traveled to my home county for the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce Banquet.  I was thankful to have both of my parents in attendance!  As the keynote speaker, I opened my speech with a few memories from Miss America.  I then transitioned into talking about my platform, “Second Chances through Mentoring.”  I thought to myself while I was speaking, “I haven’t done this in a few weeks, and I forgot how much fun public speaking can be!”  Afterwards, I received so much positive feedback …. something that often happens in a small town.  Coming from a small town, I believe that these communities really learn how to support one another.  Some of my most special appearances this year have been in small towns across Arkansas! 

Friday, I pulled into the parking lot at Paris Middle School to find a parking spot designated for “Miss Arkansas”!  I felt so special to have my own parking spot!  The school had invited me to attend an assembly in celebration of their thriving mentoring program.  I was surprised to see the community support behind this program from multiple donors and volunteers.  There were many dignitaries in attendance, including mayor, superintendent, the entire school board, state senator, and personnel from the offices of  U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and U.S. Senator John Boozeman.  After I spoke to the group, we all enjoyed lunch together.  They were very supportive of my message!  I am grateful to live in a state where the leaders believe in and support my generation!

Paris Middle School will go down as one of my favorite schools, largely because of the kids!  They yelled for an encore once we finished the “Name that Tune” game.  Then, they lined up for autographs and pictures until lunch started.  They asked hilarious questions, such as “Have you ever met Lil' Wayne?”  Haha! “No, I am not that famous.” 

So, my job as Miss Arkansas will be back in full swing next week as I travel to Northwest Arkansas.  After several great appearances this week, I believe more and more that I have one of the best jobs in the world!  I am energized for the next six months and hope to soak in every moment!  I am brainstorming for ideas to improve this organization, invest in contestants, and strengthen donor support.  I am ready for the challenge and hope to positively impact the legacy of Miss Arkansas! 


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