Stop and smell the strawberries... Week 41

The week began with a golf tournament at the Maumelle Country Club on Monday.  The tournament benefits the Arkansas Baptist School System, and Miss Arkansas has been invited for several years.  I wore shorts and regretted it because it was cold!  However, I enjoyed stepping inside the clubhouse and mingling with the players during lunch.  

Students from Arkansas Baptist Schools showed up to play golf!

Tuesday, I appeared on KATV Good Morning Arkansas!  I always enjoy television interviews, and Melinda did a great job with the interview.  They showed several pictures from my year as Miss Arkansas, and then we talked about the upcoming golf tournament.  You can watch it here.  Afterwards, I indulged in home-grown Arkansas strawberries from the Farmer’s Market!

On Thursday, I visited Southside Elementary School in Cabot.  After giving my presentation to 500 students, I asked for questions.  One young boy was eager to talk on the microphone and asked an excellent question, “How do students become bullies?”  I was impressed with his question and wanted everyone to hear my answer.  I shared, “Most bullies make fun of others because they do not feel good about themselves.  I want you all to understand how special you are.  You were made exactly the way you are for a purpose.  Never doubt who you are or what you have to offer!” 

Later that afternoon, I spoke in another school in Cabot, Magness Elementary School.  I walked in to see a class sitting in the gym, ready for the assembly.  As I started to talk to the kindergartners, one little girl said, “You are a princess!”  I told the kids that if I were a princess then I would need a prince.   A boy eagerly raised his hand and blushed when I asked him to be my prince.  Later in my program, a student asked if I am married… a question that I often hear.  I responded, “I am not married, I do not have kids, but I do have a really cute boyfriend!”  The kids always giggle!  On the way out the door, my prince came up to me and asked about whom I was talking when I said that I have a really cute boyfriend.  I winked at him and assured him that he was the only one.  ;)

My prince  :)

Friday, I lay in bed with a kidney infection until my appearance that night.  When hundreds of people expect Miss Arkansas to be at an appearance, I can’t simply call in for a sick day.  However, I was feeling much better Friday night and enjoyed the Fashion Statement Women’s Conference in Lonoke.  I shared about my platform and encouraged all women to get involved with my generation through mentoring!

Saturday started early with the March of Dimes March for Babies Walk and Rally in Little Rock.  I actually had an older sister who was born with birth defects and lived only three days.  My family has always appreciated the March of Dimes Organization and the awareness they bring about premature babies and birth defects.  As I met many supporters and customers of the March of Dimes, I was reminded of the good work of this organization! 

I then drove to De Valls Bluff for the Fort Lincoln Freedom Fest, where I spoke at an assembly and awarded the essay contest winners with medals.  It was a beautiful day, and I loved walking through the festival and signing autographs.  A magician talked me into participating in his skit, and someone else talked me into shooting a gun.  It was a great Arkansas festival! 

Sunday was a day that I have been looking forward to for some time!  I met with the selection committee to choose two recipients for the 2nd annual New Beginnings Scholarship.   I raised funds for this scholarship last fall with a chili lunch.  Stuttgart High School graduates are allowed to apply for the scholarship if they are first-generation college students.  I have served on several scholarship selection committees and consider it a huge blessing to offer scholarships to deserving candidates.  I especially admire those who will attend college as the first person in their family.  I am very excited to present both scholarships on Friday at Stuttgart High School! 

I would like to invite you to the Miss Arkansas Luncheon and Lottery on Sunday, May 20th, 2012, at the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock!  Although we will not have a fashion show as in previous years, we will be celebrating the 2012 state contestants and my year as Miss Arkansas!  Brunch will be served beginning at 10:30 a.m. with the 2012 Contestant's Lottery beginning at 11:00 a.m. .The cost is $25.00 per person. Reservations are required for guaranteed seating. Payment is required at the time of the reservations. Reservations may be made through May 15 th to No tickets will be sold at the door.  Hope you can attend! 

 Picture from last year's May Contestant Meeting!  

The following Monday, we will be hosting the annual Miss Arkansas Golf Tournament at the Pleasant Valley Country Club.  We are still looking for a few more teams and would love to have more sponsors for the holes.  This four-person scramble has a $1,000 entry fee and serves as the primary fundraiser for the Miss Arkansas Organization.  Visit for more information.  The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships to women in America, and I am personally very thankful for the amount I have been given.  Over several years of competing, I received around $34,000 to pay for more than three-fourths of my pharmacy school tuition!!!

Picture from last year's golf tournament.  Four Miss Arkansas contestants and a golfer standing before the Hole in One yellow Camaro!

I want to end this blog with advice I saw several state titleholders retweet this week, “Stop distracting yourself by stalking your competition on the internet. Focus on your pageant prep. No one ever worried her way to the title!”  I limited my time on the internet while competing for Miss Arkansas because I knew comparing myself to others would never benefit me.  Bring your best self to the pageant this year, and never look back!  

Those who inspire me... Week 40

In the past 3 weeks, I have slept in my bed only 6 nights.  I am up to 33,000 miles on my car, and I have had 3 nails in my tires since last July.  I have lost about 10 pairs of earrings from packing and unpacking so many times.  Haha, living the life of a nomad makes for an exciting life!

Tuesday, I headed to Hot Springs to celebrate volunteer week with St. Joseph’s Hospital.  I was so surprised and inspired by those senior citizens!  All volunteers were above the age of 60 and had served 80,000 volunteer hours collectively in the last year!  One man told me that he pushed wheelchairs so that the nurses could do what they learned at school.  Other volunteers welcome patients and families during their hospital stay.  Several volunteers have served for 5-20 years in the hospital.  I thanked them for setting an example of service for me to live up to! 

I returned to my old stomping grounds, Arkadelphia, to speak to First Baptist Church on Tuesday night.  I spoke about my platform and performed my a cappella tap dance.  You know that people appreciated your message when they stay 30 minutes after the event to visit with you!  I was once told that Miss Arkansas is always the last person to leave an event, and I definitely believe it!  It was wonderful to see several familiar faces and have dinner with several sorority sisters. 

Wednesday, I met with some park rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers …  Talk about nice people!  For several years, they have asked Miss Arkansas to record radio and TV commercials to promote boating safety: in fact, last year I even memorized Alyse’s commercial!   My family spends a lot of time on the lake during the summer so I realize the importance of water safety.  Once we recorded the radio ads in the studio, we traveled 30 minutes to Mount Brady to film the commercials.   I can’t tell you how many times I have traveled through Arkansas and thought it must be the most beautiful state in the nation!   I am proud to be from the Natural State because of the awe-inspiring lakes, hiking trails, campgrounds, hunting and fishing opportunities … It’s Mother Nature at her finest! 

Thursday was a day of catching up and repacking.  I drove to Jonesboro on Thursday night since I had an appearance early Friday morning.  Samantha Glover and Kim Futrell welcomed me to Jonesboro and made me feel right at home!  On Friday morning, I joined the pre-K students at the Trike-a-thon for St. Jude’s Hospital.  I had lots of fun with the kids and hopped on a scooter to join their race.  Three kids from St. Jude’s Hospital attended the awards ceremony and helped hand out awards.  I was especially impressed with Ben, who won the battle with leukemia at the age of 8.  Two years later, he is incredibly mature and gracious!  I obviously wasn’t the only one enamored with Ben because he has served as a St. Jude’s spokesperson across the nation and once co-starred in a commercial with Robin Williams!  I admire survivors like Ben! 

Hope for Little Heroes! 

I joined the trike-a-thon on my scooter! 

 Me, Edmond (he raised the most money for St. Jude's, and Ben!

Mom and I traveled to Paragould on Saturday to attend an inner beauty workshop for girls at Finch Baptist Church.  When I arrived at the church, the girls rushed to hug me.  I instantly noticed the crazy hair-do’s and red lipstick!  The theme for the weekend was “Be a Rockstar!”  I loved it!  I signed lots of autographs and t-shirts and later visited each grade individually.  The girls asked lots of good questions, but I was especially tickled with this one, “Your teeth are so white.  Do you wear a flipper?”   “No…”   “Oh, you must brush your teeth 12 times a day!”  Haha, I will have to tell Dr. Cooper about that one!  I smiled when a dainty little girl told me, “Miss Arkansas, you are cute!”  When we gathered for an assembly, I spoke to the girls about inner beauty and knowing that God made each person perfectly unique and special.  The girls were especially giddy when I tap danced.  With appearances like this one, I pray those girls never forget my visit.  I don’t care if they remember me as Miss Arkansas, but I pray that something Miss Arkansas said will stick with them forever. 

I hope that you have a church family like I do.  On Sunday, I was honored to speak at the annual First Baptist Church Ladies’ Luncheon in Stuttgart.  Growing up in this church helped form me spiritually and develop my passions.  My church has supported me through everything, specifically the summer that I served as an intern in the Promise House, a shelter for pregnant teenagers.  It was a blessing to celebrate God’s faithfulness and blessings with the church family who has experienced it with me!  I can’t remember ever receiving more hugs than I did on Sunday!  I enjoyed lunch with a table of young princesses, and they were a hoot!  Miss Rylee told me that she had entered a pageant but received only a participation award.  I laughed and told her that happened to me too … at Miss America!   We have a lot in common! 

These princesses made for an entertaining lunch!  

I mentioned several people in this week’s blog who have inspired me.  However, I don’t ever thank my parents as much as they deserve.  My mom has chaperoned and driven me to more than half of my appearances.  My father gives just as much effort through service and travels with me when he can.  They have attended all but one of the preliminary pageants this year.  I simply could not have survived the year without them!  I love you, Mom and Dad! 

This week’s advice comes from my favorite Miss America of all time, Laura Kaeppler. Laura recently sent an email to the state contestants saying, “I have tried, and will continue to try, to put only my best foot forward this year and be the best representative I can possibly be. That does not only mean for the Miss America Organization but also for my fellow sisters. This is an organization comprised of not only 1 titleholder, but 53 state titleholders, hundreds of local title holders and thousands of contestants who compete but may not ever wear a crown. I am proud to represent the organization but also hope to share it with you as much as possible – as this is not a journey capable of being walked alone.”  Recognize that your words and actions represent something much greater than yourself.  Use your influence wisely!  Laura is an excellent example to follow!  

Standing up for what's right... Week 39!

What?  The week is already over?!  Haha … this happens to me almost every week, but last week seemed to go by especially fast!

Monday night, I visited the Promise House for dinner and fun!  I worked as a summer intern at the Promise House, an Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home for pregnant teenagers.  I enjoyed catching up with my former mentor, the new house parents, and the girls.  The Promise House will have another summer intern starting in July, and I am excited to meet and encourage her!

Back in the schools on Wednesday, I visited Fordyce Elementary School and urged the students to do their best on the Benchmark Exams!  I always tell the story of Felix and his invisible bucket.  When the bucket is full, he is happy; when the bucket is empty, he is sad.  It was the first time I ever asked a principal if her bucket would be full if every student scored proficient or advanced.  Her enthusiastic “Yes!” was met with equally enthusiastic applause from the students!  After the assembly, one of the boys lingered to ask, “I lost my phone number.  Can I have yours?”  Haha, I haven’t heard that one in forever!

I love when little kids peek through the windows to see Miss Arkansas! 
Speaking to the kiddos!

On Thursday, I attended an inspiring Tickled Pink Luncheon in Texarkana in honor of breast cancer survivors.  The room was beautifully decorated and ready for a packed house!  Survivors (ages 28-77) modeled in a style show while the emcees shared their heartwarming stories!  I entertained and spoke about how breast cancer has personally affected my family since my grandmother has survived cancer on three different occurrences.  I hope that I always remember my MawMaw’s strength to overcome adversity!

Posing with breast cancer survivors!

Friday started with a surprise.  There seemed to be some miscommunication and uncertainty concerning the time of Friday’s event.  I was under the impression that the Just Say No Drug Walk in Arkadelphia would begin at 12:30 p.m.  However, when we called Perritt Elementary School at 7:30 a.m, they informed us that the event would start at 9:00 a.m!!!  I jumped into the shower and rushed to get ready and on the road. As mom and I headed to Arkadelphia, she remarked, “I think flexibility is the most important quality for Miss Arkansas to have.”  Laughing, I completely agreed with her!

Once we arrived at Perritt Elementary School in Arkadelphia, the auditorium was teeming with excitement!  When it was time for me to perform, I asked a precious little girl to carefully hold my crown.  She held it as if it were gold, and the newspaper got a sweet picture of her!  I was excited to share the event with Miss Henderson State University, Miranda Johnson, who is so impressive!  We hopped into the convertible and rode to the newspaper building as the students walked and chanted “Just Say No!”  We then held a rally against drugs with help from the Arkadelphia band, cheerleaders, and town officials.  I talked to the kids about setting goals, dreaming big, and staying away from drugs.  I have always been impressed with the town of Arkadelphia and appreciate the attention and support its dedicated citizens give to the schools.  I was proud to be a part of their Just Say No Walk and to boldly say that Miss Arkansas is drug free! 

Me and Miss HSU Miranda Johnson

Saturday began with the Empower Me weekend for 5th and 6th grade girls in Conway.  It was a very special event, and I loved the photo booth idea!  I spoke to the girls about self-esteem, relating moments in my life when I have struggled with insecurity.  In 2009, I struggled with self-confidence after I didn’t qualify for the Miss Arkansas pageant.  Instead of competing, I served as the summer intern at the Promise House and allowed God to reform my identity in Him.  I recognize the power of service and that God has created us for His great purpose!  However, I would be insincere to not mention insecurities I have faced since winning Miss Arkansas.  I now have a job where I am constantly compared to others’ expectations and levels of perfection.  It can be exhausting to worry about pleasing everyone.  In moments of doubt, I reflect on living a life of purpose according to the Bible. 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, 
   whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water 
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Leaving Conway, I traveled to Little Rock’s River Market Amphitheater to participate in Walk MS with Team Dawn, whose team leader is a fellow Stuttgart native.  I donned my orange t-shirt and soaked in the excitement!  I was surprised to see so many familiar faces, including many from Stuttgart and Arkadelphia.  Team Arkadelphia rallied around Russell Strickland while raising the most money and having the largest team at the race!  I will always remember the little girl who asked, “Miss Arkansas, is it your birthday?”  Haha … she must get to wear a crown on her birthday!  Fortunately, I wear my crown almost every day!

As I wrap up this blog, I challenge you to be well-rounded.  Often, the girl who takes home the crown is not the top-ranked contestant in any area of competition.  Instead, she is the contestant who is well-rounded in all categories.  There are thousands of instances where girls placed high in every category, never won a preliminary, and walked away with the crown!  Beyond pageant competition, diverse abilities and interests are important.  For example, many people are surprised to hear that I majored in chemistry in college but now serve as a public speaker.  Science nerds aren’t supposed to have public speaking skills, right?  Wrong!  I took many classes in fields such as politics, religion, economics, and communication while striving to expand my knowledge and skills.  You can do it, too!  

Hello Northwest Arkansas! Week 38!

I was so excited to receive the photos from David, photographer with Photos for You!  Visit his page on facebook (!

Monday, after I filled my car with everything necessary for the next week, I headed to Northwest Arkansas to meet the executives of a female-run fashion business, Smart & Sexy.  Ariela Balk, CEO of Smart & Sexy and mother of eight children, has dedicated a portion of their profits to help women advance in society.  Thankfully, Ariela finds value in the Miss America Organization, the largest provider of scholarships to women in America.  For that reason, Ariela invited me to a Smart & Sexy Fashion Show in Bentonville for Walmart buyers.  I considered it an honor to participate! 

The Miss America Properties ( is responsible for the Smart & Sexy partnership.  The Miss America Properties is a new initiative to brand Miss America by creating more corporate sponsors and licensing opportunities.  This means we soon will be able to buy “Miss America” products in retail stores across America.  In case you didn’t realize it … pageant girls are businesswomen, too! 

Tuesday morning, I joined international models at Crystal Bridges for the Smart & Sexy Fashion Show.  I got to know many of the Smart & Sexy associates as we mostly discussed the differences between New York and Arkansas.  I was very intrigued with the models from all over the world!  I was especially tickled when the Australian model asked me, “Do pageants exist outside of Arkansas?”  Haha, we didn’t share a lot in common when it came to life perspective.   

Posing with the models before the show!

Wednesday and Thursday, I visited sponsors and worked on projects for the upcoming Miss Arkansas Pageant.  Amanda Farmer adopted me into their family this week … which is always fun!  Amanda owns Bella’s Gifts and Bella’s backroom.  I borrowed a few evening gowns that were both beautiful and affordable!  I hope that you stop by and shop soon!  Also, Megan Farmer did an excellent job of styling my hair on Wednesday and Thursday nights!  She will be at Miss Arkansas OT and Miss Arkansas this summer if contestants are interested in her services! 

Wednesday night was the Greek God Pageant at the University of Arkansas.  This event immediately followed Derby Days, and they both were fundraisers for Children’s Miracle Network.  Miss University of Arkansas Tracy Neal organized the Greek God Pageant and invited me to perform.  If any contestant invites me to a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network or her platform, I will do my best to come!  It is my goal to support and strengthen the Miss Arkansas Organization by helping contestants in any way possible.  I am always willing to offer advice, encouragement, or help.   

Thursday night was the extremely popular Pledge Queen Pageant at the University of Arkansas.  Miss Heart of the Ozarks, Sloane Roberts, was the reigning pledge queen, and many titleholders joined her to entertain during the pageant.  When it was my turn to dance, I didn’t hear the first four counts of my music and motioned for them to restart the track.  However… that didn’t seem possible so I just announced I would perform a cappella.  After I was finished, the emcee said, “And that is why she is Miss Arkansas!”  Haha, sometimes you just have to be flexible! 

Saturday, I traveled to Pine Bluff to attend the opening ceremony at Jack and Jill’s Play Place in The Pines Mall.  We cut the ribbon and started signing autographs for the crowd.  After I signed the last photo, I decided to join the fun!  The kids thought it was so funny to see me slide down the inflatable slide with my crown on!  Then, I gave an impromptu modeling lesson on the runway, and it was a big hit!  You should have seen those kids walking and posing with attitude!  Haha!

The proud owners of Jack and Jill's 

 Strike a pose!

That evening was the final preliminary pageant for the Miss Arkansas Class of 2012.  I was extremely impressed with Rusty Hart and his team of volunteers, who produced an excellent finale to our 2012 pageant season!  I was equally awed with the quality of contestants …. I mean their on-stage question answers were superb and the talent was impressive!  Congratulations to Brooke Ault, who was crowned Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas! 

All of the contestants competing in Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas.

Congrats to Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault!

Now that we have the complete line-up for the 2012 Miss Arkansas pageant, I can confidently say that we will have one of the best state pageants ever!  We have 47 quality contestants. (48 contestants in the 2001 Miss Arkansas pageant is the Arkansas state record.)  I am so excited for the next Miss Arkansas, because she has an outstanding class of contestants to represent!  

Look at this bunch of good lookin' women!  I was so happy to see so many local titleholders at Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas!  Thanks for coming!  

I am also proud of my alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University!  A private, liberal arts university with only 1,500 students, we have eight current students and graduates competing in Miss Arkansas this summer!  We also have a young woman competing in Miss Texas!  We have not had this many Ouachita girls compete on the state level in many years … which makes this former Miss Ouachita Baptist University very pleased! 

Now, to leave you with some thoughts ...  What quality makes a good Miss Arkansas/Miss America?  I believe an excellent titleholder is creative and savvy.  For example, Miss New York Katilin Monte ( had extraordinary entrepreneurial skills that led her to start a non-profit organization for her platform only a few months after finishing college at the age of 19.  She has fueled the momentum against bullying through creative ideas to penetrate social media and culture.  She was outstanding and earned her spot into the top five at Miss America!  When you become a local or state titleholder, you can easily accept what you have been handed.  However, an extraordinary titleholder will strive to make more out of what she has been given.  Don’t be afraid to start a website or blog, organize a fundraiser for your platform, and become proactive!  Innovate creative and savvy ideas to promote your platform and title!

Happy Easter!  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ... 1 Peter 1:3

Just call me a businesswoman... Week 37!

I started the week with several sponsor visits!  I am always thankful to visit Anne Hubbard at Beautiful U Aesthetics in North Little Rock.  Because of her microdermabrasion treatments, chemical peels, and skin care, I can have a clear complexion!  I also visited Pinky Punky, a fun clothing boutique in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center in West Little Rock!  I enjoyed modeling several dresses for photos that will soon appear on the store’s website! Another Little Rock sponsor, Advanced Aesthetics, hosted a hat party to promote skin care during the upcoming summer months.  It was wonderful to see the staff and try on lots of hats! 

On Tuesday, I visited Hearts and Hooves in Sherwood (  I knew it would be a great visit when I saw two boys greet each other in the parking lot with a high-five!  The incredibly organized nonprofit is accomplishing many goals that are similar to those of my platform, Second Chances through Mentoring.  They offer horse-riding lessons to people of all ages with disabilities, hippotherapy (with an Occupational Therapist), as well as Cowboy Ethics (an unmounted six-week course) for at-risk teenagers who come from Youth Home.  I am pleased to promote Hearts and Hooves and thank them for the impact they are making in Arkansas! 

Thursday, I headed to Clarendon to attend their Chamber of Commerce Banquet, “Putting on the Glitz!”  They had decorated the room beautifully and ushered in a great crowd!  Clarendon is making significant strides in improving their community, and I was happy to be a part of their annual celebration!  Thanks for allowing me to speak and perform!

 Teach for America teachers in Clarendon!

Traveling to Hot Springs on Friday, I met the Citgo executives for a trade show at the Hot Springs Convention Center.  I enjoyed spending the day with the impressive Citgo team while taking pictures and signing autographs.  I was especially excited to hear that their “Fueling Good” program recently awarded a large grant to Youth Home in Little Rock!  Thanks for leaving a positive footprint in Arkansas, Citgo! 

Joey and Paul are part of the Citgo team!

Ironically, I left the Citgo booth to head to the annual Youth Home fundraiser!  The mission of Youth Home ( is to help emotionally troubled adolescents and families become healthier, contributing members of the community. The fundraiser was a spectacular event called “Eggshibition” because they auction off beautifully decorated eggs!  Savannah, a sixth grade artist, painted a remarkable Hunger Games egg.  When I found her at the end of the night to see how much her egg auctioned for, she was squealing with excitement!  Two men bid against each other until her egg went for $710!!  She was so proud of her egg and excited to support a worthy cause such as Youth Home! 

 There is the $710 egg!
Isn't this egg exquisite?  She has been painting eggs for 7 years for this fundraiser! 

Saturday was a fantastic day as I met my best friend, Whitney, in East End to attend the First Baptist Church Women’s Ministry Dinner.  We had so much fun!  They had prepared a feast for dinner, and the dessert table was just as big as the food buffet!  I shared several stories from the Promise House and Big Brothers, Big Sisters while promoting my platform.  Afterward, I had several people come by to take pictures and get an autograph.  It was such an honor to hear, “We are so blessed to have you as our Miss Arkansas!  You are a tribute to our state!”  Thank you!

 Whitney and me!
 These ladies were on the planning team!

Congratulations to two new titleholders!  Chelsea Jones was named Miss Lake Dardanelle, and Molly Jones won the Miss Apple Blossom Pageant!  We have only one more preliminary pageant left to go before our 2012 Miss Arkansas Class is complete!  I hope you can join us on Saturday, April 7, at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock for Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas.  All runners-up from previous preliminary pageants are eligible to compete! 

We have already done so much to prepare for the 2012 Miss Arkansas Pageant!  However, I constantly realize that we could never do any of it without the help of our sponsors!  I enjoy the opportunity to promote the Miss Arkansas sponsors as much as I can!  When you get the chance to meet sponsors and do business with them, please let them know how much we appreciate their support of the Miss Arkansas Organization!