Sunday was not a good day for Miss Arkansas. I got caught in a traffic jam on I-40 that caused my two-hour trip to take five hours. I had planned to attend a reception in West Memphis but entirely missed the appearance. Thankfully, C J Wilson met me in West Memphis to help me get settled into the hotel once I finally got there! I was grateful to see C J after a tiring trip!
Monday morning, CJ and I headed to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism to cut the ribbon! While I was in the parking lot, a police officer stopped, and I thought something was wrong. Getting out of his car, he said, “Miss Arkansas, can I get a picture with you?” Haha, I love policemen!
Tuesday, I returned to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism for the final celebration. I met with the Executive Director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Mr. Richard Davies, before the banquet to take pictures. We then enjoyed a phenomenal meal, including cheesecake. When I got up to speak to the crowd, I mentioned, “Good thing Miss America is over because I fully enjoyed that cheesecake!” It was a pleasure to thank the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission for their service and dedication in making our state more welcoming and entertaining for both visitors and residents!
Stuttgart received a volunteerism award!
On Thursday morning, I drove to Ouachita Baptist University for lunch with the board members. I invited Miss Ouachita Baptist University Mary Lacey Thomson to go with me, and we had a wonderful time! We enjoyed our meal (and cheesecake dessert!) with OBU President, Dr. Rex Horne. I am so thankful for the support that Ouachita gives to Miss OBU!
After lunch, it was time for me to put on my white coat and walk over to the science lab. I had been asked to speak at an upcoming Girls of Promise Conference to encourage 8th grade girls to consider a career in the sciences. However, the conference did not fit into my schedule. Thankfully, Ouachita offered to film my motivational speech to be shown at the Girls of Promise Conference. It will be posted online in one month, and I will share it with you then!
I woke up very early on Friday morning to participate in the Radiothon benefitting Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Since the Miss America National Platform is Children’s Miracle Network, I think it is very important for Miss Arkansas to volunteer with Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I was happy to answer phones and collect donations in order to save lives! It was a wonderful way to start my day!
B98.5 helped us out with the radiothon! Thank you Jeff and Lisa!
On Friday evening, I hopped into the car with my dad and PawPaw. We traveled to Brinkley, as I was the keynote speaker at the annual Chamber of Commerce meeting! After finishing a piece of cheesecake, I grabbed the microphone and began to speak about my platform, “Second Chances through Mentoring.” I reminded the audience that teenagers often make mistakes if they do not have positive role models in their lives. I challenged the group to invest in my generation and always set examples of service and excellence. Afterwards, they gave me a standing ovation!
Saturday was a beautiful day, and I was happy to spend it in Fort Smith! We arrived in time for the Miss UAFS Princess Tea. Over 40 girls, all donned in pink t-shirts and sparkly tiaras, signed up to participate in the princess program! We played “Pin the Crown on the Frog” and “Princess Name That Tune.” I asked the girls, “Who wants to be Miss America?” Every girl raised her hand! I encouraged them to set goals and work very hard to accomplish those goals, no matter how many setbacks you may have!
A little girl came up to me at the Princess Tea and asked if I had a tan. I answered, “I have a spray tan.” She whispered to me, “I can tell.” Haha! There was no fooling her!
My parents and I joined the judges and the Miss UAFS pageant directors for dinner. Once again, we had cheesecake for dessert! I can’t believe I was served cheesecake four times this week. I am so glad that I don’t have to report to my personal trainer like I did before Miss America because I never refuse a piece of cheesecake!
The director of Miss UAFS, Mr. Stacy Jones, has recruited an army of volunteers to put on an incredible production! I was most impressed with Stacy’s commitment to the original purpose of the Miss Arkansas Organization. He found sponsors to pay both the Children’s Miracle Network fee and the typical pageant fee, dropping the average cost for contestants of a preliminary pageant from $200 to $0. He then recruited 20 girls, most of whom had never competed previously. He didn’t require polished talents or perfect wardrobes; he just wanted the contestants to benefit from competing. He was proud to hand out almost $20,000 in scholarships! Without a doubt, he accomplished his goal for the girls to gain interview skills and self-confidence. When directors remember the basic purpose of preliminary pageants, I like to call them “difference makers”!
Me, Miss UAFS Savannah Valentine, and Sarah Davis
Congratulations to Savannah Valentine who was named Miss UAFS! Also, Miranda Johnson will be the first Miss Henderson State University to compete in Miss Arkansas! Congratulations to the new Miss Cotton Belle, Mollie Parker! All three queens were crowned on Saturday night!
Rain covered Arkansas all day Sunday! Thankfully, I was inside Crabby’s restaurant in Rogers for a fundraiser. Many local titleholders, media personalities, and local celebrities joined together to raise funds for the Joplin High School Prom. We had lots of fun meeting customers and waiting tables. Several Joplin students present talked about the F5 tornado that came through their hometown and destroyed their high school. They now have a temporary high school in an old mall. We were tickled to find out that we raised $1270 in tips!
Ashton and I were shaking hands and kissing babies! haha!
I would like to leave you with a bit of advice as you prepare for Miss Arkansas, and life for that matter. I encourage you to surround yourself with a few trustworthy friends and advisors. I’ve always considered my close pageant circle to include my mom, dad, dance teacher Mrs. Micki, and friend Mrs. LoraNelle. Always listen to advice given by directors and judges, but never forget who you really are. Don’t accept every piece of advice but learn to discern the good advice from the bad. Your circle of trustworthy friends will help you with that.