What is your best interview tip?

Introducing... Video #2 of my 75th Anniversary Project!  Because most contestants are practicing and polishing their interview skills, it is only fitting to share some interview advice from former Miss Arkansas titleholders!  Hope that at least one of these tips will help you better your interview and ultimately better yourself.  Good luck ladies!

Smiles, Sunburns, and Summer Fun! Week 45

What a week!  Even though we are preparing for the 2012 Miss Arkansas Pageant, I still have many appearances to make.  I have been very busy, but I am trying to soak in every moment!

Sunday, after the contestant meeting in Little Rock (see the last blog post for an update on the meeting), I headed to Stuttgart.  Studio Allegro, my home dance studio and workplace, was having their annual dance recital!  I was excited about the recital but didn’t expect the girls to be SO excited to see me.  Since I grew up in the dance studio and taught some of their classes, they consider me to be “their Miss Arkansas!”  The funniest comment that I received from the little girls was, “I thought you were at a pageant or something!?”  I guess I always attend pageants in their eyes.  Haha! 

Mrs. Micki is my dance teacher and mentor!  

Monday morning, I returned to Little Rock for the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation golf tournament and a visit with the contestants to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  When the tournament ended, I traveled back to Stuttgart for this spring’s final dance recital for Studio Allegro.  Both nights, I spoke before I performed and thanked the parents for letting their daughters study dance.  A very shy little girl, I credit dance performances and competitions with giving me confidence and stage presence.  I also learned work ethic, persistence, leadership, and passion.  Dance played a major role in developing my character and dreams. 

Lakeside Intermediate School in Hot Springs was the site of my last school program on Tuesday.  After we pulled into the school parking lot, Mom walked into the building to ask if Miss Arkansas was in the right place.  A father happened to be in the office to check his daughter out of school.  Hearing Mom’s question, the girl whimpered, “I didn’t know Miss Arkansas was coming today.  Daddy, can I please stay at school?!”  Her father explained that she had an appointment, and he would have scheduled it differently if he had known.  She started crying as they left.  When I later walked into the school, Mom told me about the little girl.  We asked around for her name, and I left her a special message on an autographed photo.  I hope it made her day a little better and eased her disappointment! 

The kids in the assembly were great!  They were very bright and interactive.  I will really miss visiting the schools but will always remember the kids that I met.  School visits are such a blessing! 

One of the classes from the assembly!

Wednesday and Thursday were my first days off in two weeks.  What a relief!  

Then, on Friday … back to work!  I attended the Special Olympics’ State Summer Games at Harding University in Searcy.  I had the honor of giving gold medals to the first place winners at the awards ceremony, where I high-five every athlete!    You wouldn’t believe how organized the event was!  I was impressed with the many volunteers who were committed to making the Special Olympics Games the highlight of the year for those athletes!  I fully enjoyed the appearance and didn’t even mind the sunburn!  

Proud of those medals!

I took a scenic route on the way to the Heritage Days Festival on Saturday.  I normally travel through Stuttgart to get to Gillett, but my GPS suggested that I go through Pine Bluff.  Blindly, I followed the GPS and explored several dirt roads and lots of corn fields.  I passed a few tractors and couldn’t help but think the farmers were laughing to see Miss Arkansas on a dirt road!  Thankfully, I made it to the festival on time.  I spoke at the Memorial Salute to the Veterans, honoring those who have served our nation.  I then signed autographs, met new friends, and saw a few familiar faces.

I spent the rest of the Memorial Day weekend with my family on the lake in Hot Springs.  This is the weekend that the Army Corps of Engineers will begin to release my public service announcements on boating safety.  I hope you enjoy the following video! 

I have received lots of positive feedback on my video project, where I asked 18 former Miss Arkansas titleholders for their advice to the next Miss Arkansas.  I’m excited to say that I have more material to share!  Expect another video release during the next week! 

Also, I hope you make plans to attend Spirited Art on June 5 for Charity Night!  We are painted a razorback and all proceeds will benefit Children’s Miracle Network.  I will be there painting, and if I can do it… you can do it!  The art instructor will guide us through the painting which makes the class fun and easy!  I am so thankful that Spirited Art is hosting this fundraiser and would love to see you there!  Don’t forget to reserve your easel at http://www.rezclick.com/spiritedartlittlerock/index.php?page=classes#519.  

In my last blog post, I shared advice that my dad had given on how to be a good Miss Arkansas:  “Develop a servant’s heart.”  To emphasize it, I want to share a Bible verse.  “… With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)  When I won Miss Arkansas, I was told by several people, “This year is not about you.”  Even though it seemed blunt, it was very true.  Some advice to the next Miss Arkansas is to stay humble and put others first.  

2012 Miss Arkansas Contestant Meeting!

On Sunday morning, Mom and I woke up in Annapolis, Maryland, to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight in Baltimore.  After we switched flights in Charlotte, we landed in Little Rock around 10:30 a.m.  Dad picked us up at the airport, and I retouched my make-up and put on the crown in the car.  We were so tired but were running on adrenaline for the most important meeting… the 2012 Miss Arkansas Contestant Meeting!  

Jessie Bennett, Executive Director of the Miss Arkansas Pageant Organization, opened the meeting at the Pleasant Valley Country Club with a quick greeting and introduction of the board and foundation members.  The board members are responsible for the direction of the pageant.  The Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation raises scholarship money for the contestants and holds the 501(c)3 status. 

Then, I spoke to the girls about the job of Miss Arkansas.  I mentioned a question that I was asked in my Miss Arkansas interview, “What is the job of Miss Arkansas?”  Because of my well thought-out and enthusiastic answer, the judges considered me a front-runner for the crown.  Later, I was awarded the overall interview award before winning the Miss Arkansas crown!  Similarly, I was asked, “What is the job of Miss America?” in my Miss America interview.  I honestly believe that is where I fumbled the ball.  I didn’t know much about the job of Miss America, and the judges overlooked me. 

I handed the contestants a job description that will also be given to the judges at Miss Arkansas this year.  To paraphrase, Miss Arkansas is a full-time position to promote the Miss Arkansas Organization, Children’s Miracle Network, and the titleholder’s personal platform.  The vast majority of her appearances will be public speaking appearances to a variety of audiences including children, teenagers, adults, and churches.  Miss Arkansas will perform her talent across the state, including performing the National Anthem if she is a vocalist or instrumentalist.  Miss Arkansas is expected to work with, promote, and improve sponsorships.  Character, passion, and responsibility will help Miss Arkansas make an impact throughout the year. 

The job of Miss Arkansas is not exactly an easy one.  She must live up to many expectations, while constantly making good first impressions and receiving judgment.  However, it is the most rewarding job with a huge opportunity to serve the state.  If honored to be named Miss Arkansas, she should strive to always remain humble and gracious!  That advice will help her through the hard times and the long days! 

I also announced my latest project to pass on advice and encouragement from former Miss Arkansas titleholders!  Click here to see a video compilation of 18 interviews and lots of good advice for the next Miss Arkansas!!

As I finished, guess what the Miss Arkansas board members gave me?!  Miss Arkansas is given a tea set every year and I was ecstatic to receive mine!

My mom spoke next and shared advice for the mother of the next Miss Arkansas.  She explained how to prepare for the first few weeks of being Miss Arkansas and emphasized the importance of networking.  She also said, “As with anything in life, the more you put into the year as Miss Arkansas, the more you will get out of it!” 

Dad finished with a few jokes and some powerful words.  He said the quality that makes a good Miss Arkansas is a servant’s heart, giving more of herself while expecting little in return! 

We then moved onto the lottery!  This year, we have 47 girls competing for the crown.  The only year that had more contestants was 2001, when Jessie Ward Bennett won among 48 contestants.  The following pictures show the current contestants competing in each group. 

Group A (talent, swimsuit, evening gown)
Group B (evening gown, talent, swimsuit)
Group C (swimsuit, evening gown, talent)

Jessie announced several changes for the upcoming pageant.  First, the Miss Arkansas Organization was granted extra scholarship money for the 75th anniversary of the pageant.  Along with support from an anonymous donor, we are excited to announce that each contestant will receive a minimum $250 in scholarship money!  Wow!!

Additionally, we have several big new sponsors this year!  Citgo has stepped on board with a $20,000 sponsorship through their “Fueling Good” program that supports local non-profits.  Miss Arkansas 2012 will be given $10,000 in gas cards for the upcoming year!  This is a huge blessing, considering I currently pay for gas out of my paycheck!  Also, Citgo will be giving $100 gas cards to all local directors and local titleholders.  How incredible is that?!  We definitely need to let Citgo know how much we appreciate them!

Another new sponsor is Bale Chevrolet in Little Rock!  Sharon Evans Bale is a former Miss Arkansas and one of the most inspirational women!  We are thankful that she has agreed to support the Miss Arkansas Organization by providing Miss Arkansas 2012 a cute little Kia! 

One of the new sponsorships that I am personally excited about is Sissy’s Log Cabin!  They have partnered with the Royal We and Clark’s Bridal to give Miss Arkansas a fine coronation ring.  It is a beautiful aquamarine stone with a crown setting of diamond chips.   I can’t wait to receive this gift at the end of my year!  Thank you to all these sponsors!!!

Finally, the contestants received their Tony Bowls onstage question dresses sponsored by the Royal We and Clark’s Bridal!  The girls had several choices and voted for this charcoal jersey dress, which will be great for dancing!  I approve!

Renee Fronabarger, wardrobe chairman

Overall, I consider the contestant meeting to be a huge success!  I am excited to hand over the job position to the next Miss Arkansas because I believe the Miss Arkansas Organization is headed in the right direction!  The board and foundation have worked hard to improve the organization, and their efforts are paying off!  Jessie Ward Bennett, Executive Director for two years now, is a phenomenal boss!  Also, we have the most organized and competent office manager, Mrs. Vicki Rima.  The next Miss Arkansas is stepping into the organization at its finest! 

Monday, the contestants returned to Pleasant Valley Country Club for the Miss Arkansas Foundation Golf Tournament.  We had 22 teams and raised close to $20,000 in scholarship funds!  The contestants helped the teams check in, directed them to lunch, and helped them get ready for the tournament.  It was a well-organized, enjoyable event!

While the golf tournament was going on, the contestants rotated from the country club to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  The contestants took a tour of the facility to see where all of our Children’s Miracle Network funds go.  Miss America is the national ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network, and each state contestant is required to raise $250 for CMN.  The girls loved the tour and made posters for the patients!

When I arrived at the hospital, I visited the playroom for the patients.  I have visited the playroom multiple times this year but have never seen as many kids as I did on Monday.  So many of the little girls got wide-eyed and star-struck when they saw me!  I especially loved the painting that one of the girls made for me!  I will forever remember the brave cancer patient who had prepared questions for me.  It was like she gave me a real interview!  So cute!

I returned to the golf tournament as the teams were finishing up.  We gathered around for the announcement of the winners and posed for a photo with the winning team!  I have to say that the best part of the weekend was getting to spend time with the contestants.  Every chance I get to know them better, the more impressed I am with the class of 2012!  It will be a GREAT pageant. 

I hope you can join us for the 75th anniversary of the Miss Arkansas Pageant at the Summit Arena in Hot Springs!  Preliminary competition will be held on Wednesday-Friday, July 11-13.  The next Miss Arkansas will be crowned on Saturday, July 14.  You are not going to want to miss this one!  

From Dallas to DC! Week 44!

I am writing this blog at 7:00 a.m. in the airport.  Hang on… this has been a week of adventures! 

Sunday, I traveled to Dallas to stay with Amy, my best friend from college and fellow chemistry major.  I was so thankful for Amy’s great navigational skills through the horrific traffic in Dallas!  Monday afternoon, we visited with Shannon Boy Skokos, Miss Arkansas 1992, and Donna Axum Whitworth, who was Miss Arkansas1963 and Miss America 1964.  I still get butterflies when I meet with former Miss Arkansas titleholders so I was especially excited about the meeting! 

Over the past two months, I have been working on a very special video project!  I have met with as many former Miss Arkansas titleholders as possible and have collected 18 interviews on video.  I announced the project at the Miss Arkansas Contestant Meeting.  Every week, I will release a video on YouTube.  The purpose of the project is to pass along stories, advice, and encouragement to the next generation of Miss Arkansas contestants.  Each video features a question and the responses from several formers.   Stay tuned as I upload the first video to YouTube, where you can watch former titleholders reply to the question, “What would you like to say to Miss Arkansas 2012?” 

Back to Monday… after I interviewed Shannon and Donna for the videos, it was game time!  Shannon and Ted Skokos are co-owners of the Texas Rangers baseball team.  Shannon offered to take me to the game and graciously invited Amy to accompany us.  Amy is an avid Ranger fan , and her fiancĂ© actually proposed to her, right there in the stadium, during the World Series last year!  I knew that I wanted to experience the Rangers game with Amy!  Shannon said we would have seats behind the players, but we had NO idea that we would have front row tickets behind home plate! 

We arrived early so Ted offered to give us a tour of the stadium.  He showed us the media room, workout room, and private batting cages.  Then… we saw Josh Hamilton.  You should have seen us squirm!  Ted suggested taking a seat in the batting cages so we waited until Josh Hamilton came.  He greeted us and said that he would shake our hands but his batting gloves were dirty.  Instead he gave us knuckles!  Then, Michael Young came in and spoke to us before getting in some batting practice.   Amy was seriously star-struck!  When we thought it couldn’t get any better, Nolan Ryan walked into the owner’s bunker as we were having dinner.  He was there with his wife, Ruth, and son, all of whom were very nice!  Amy and I were stoked about the picture and two autographed baseballs from Nolan Ryan! 

Around the 6th inning, a camera showed up on the front row.  They announced over the loud speaker that Miss Arkansas was in the crowd rooting on the Rangers!  I was so overwhelmed that I am pretty sure I blushed on-screen!  Several Ouachita students happened to be at the game and tweeted about it.  It was a really cool moment!  Even though the Rangers lost the game, Amy and I considered it to be an exhilarating baseball experience! 

Tuesday, I drove back to Arkansas to film a commercial for the Royal We in Conway.  The Royal We has been a significant sponsor of the Miss Arkansas Organization, and I was excited to be in their commercial!  You will definitely see it at the Miss Arkansas Pageant and maybe elsewhere! 

On Wednesday morning, I joined the Arkansas Furniture Association for their annual golf tournament at the Maumelle Country Club.  Miss Arkansas has attended this event for many years, and they definitely knew how to host Miss Arkansas with class!  It was a fun event! 

That afternoon, I repacked my bags and headed to the airport!  After the plane was delayed for an hour, Mom and I finally made it to Washington D.C. and crashed in the hotel room!  The last time I attended a conference there, we were snowed in so I never toured the city.  Due to the media, I have to admit my perception of Washington D.C. was that it has high unemployment and an even higher crime rate.  However, I found the city to be very pleasant, and the weather was perfect! 

Thursday, we were tourists!  I loved visiting the Smithsonian, including the Air and Space Museum and the American History Museum.  Of all the exhibits, the first lady exhibit was my favorite!  Every first lady’s inauguration dress was on display, along with the White House china.  Call me a girl, but it was fascinating!  We also visited the monuments and memorials but were overwhelmed by the crowds.  There were so many schools on field trips that we literally could not stand in the Lincoln Memorial without feeling claustrophobic.  However, I was in awe of the Lincoln Memorial, which is grand and symbolic of Lincoln’s influential leadership! 

Also on Thursday, I visited with Regina Hopper, Miss Arkansas 1983 and CEO of America's Natural Gas Alliance.  I admire Regina greatly and appreciate the advice she gave me about transitioning from Miss Arkansas to the real world! 

Early Friday morning, we met John Rex Spivey from Rogers, Arkansas.  John Rex is the president of the 2013 U. S. Naval Academy Class, and he arranged for our tour of the White House and Capitol through Senator John Boozman’s office.  It was the senate office that helped coordinate my trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Naval Academy Ring Dance with John Rex.  The Ring Dance is viewed as the big social event, perhaps second only to a presidential inaugural ball, by Naval Academy midshipmen.  I considered it such an honor to attend! 

John Rex, Me, Katie, and Jordan 

Senator Boozman's desk!  

The White House tour was pretty disappointing.  Because of security, we didn’t see any of the living quarters or the rose garden.  However, I really enjoyed the Capitol tour!  What an impressive building with rich, rich history!  The senator’s office was very helpful, and I enjoyed seeing a fellow Ouachitonian, Michael Paulk, on staff!

After lunch, Mom and I traveled the short distance to Annapolis, Maryland.  We toured the Naval Academy and were very impressed with the impeccable campus!  That night, we had dinner at a restaurant popular with the locals for its fresh crab.  I was anxious about cracking and eating the crab but gave it a try.  I ended up choosing the crab cakes.  A little fried food doesn’t hurt every once in a while!? 

As president of his class, John Rex’s primary responsibility was hosting their mentor class of 1963.  Saturday, we attended a luncheon with over 100 visiting alumni, and I enjoyed meeting them all.  When the speaker announced John Rex and his date, he mentioned that I am the reigning Miss Arkansas.  As the audience applauded, one gentleman yelled, “The Navy wins again!”  Some alumni class members told me that Miss Alabama attended the Ring Dance in 1963.   I felt very honored to follow in the tradition!

Saturday evening is the night that all midshipmen look forward to… the Ring Dance!  After their third year at the academy, they are given a Naval Academy ring.  It is unlucky to wear the ring without dipping it into water from all seven seas at the Ring Dance Ceremony.  The Class of 1963 also attended the dance and posed for pictures at the ceremony, as they did 50 years ago!  It was a very special event!  Those Navy guys and girls know how to throw a party! 

Saturday night, I literally slept for three hours before heading to the airport at 5:00 a.m.  We had to rush back to Arkansas for the 2012 Miss Arkansas contestant meeting!  I will definitely catch you up next week on the contestant meeting and everything to expect for this year’s pageant.  We have a phenomenal class of contestants, and I know the 75th anniversary pageant will be incredible! 

I have never received more hugs than in Week 43!

 Monday, I headed to Cabot to speak at Westside Elementary.  The counselor scheduled the assembly differently, but I thought it worked great!  I first shared my “How Full is Your Bucket” assembly on making good choices to 2nd-4th graders.  As I changed into dance clothes, kindergarten and 1st grade joined everyone in the assembly, where I danced and answered questions.  Normally, I speak to K-4 all at the same time, but I really appreciated this set-up.  

However, I still had a hard time connecting with the older elementary students during my assembly.  A former Miss Arkansas taught me the “Miss Arkansas Clap,” which is an interactive clap sequence that gets the kids’ attention and quiets them on the last clap.  In the assembly, I led the Miss Arkansas Clap more than normal and still couldn’t get all of the kids to respond.  I think the teachers noticed that I had a hard time keeping the kids under control.  After the assembly, the counselor stated she forgot to tell me that Westside Elementary is the international school in Cabot.  International students from all over the county are bused in to Westside, and the school has developed an atmosphere to accommodate 56 different languages!  They depend primarily on the students to mentor and translate for each other so what I thought was inattention was actually the students translating my message!  Mom and I noticed how friendly and supportive these students were because we have never received more hugs!  It was a very neat experience!  

I spent Tuesday at the Arkansas State Capitol.  Of course, PawPaw was there to meet me and celebrate National Tourism Week with the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department!  Bobby Glover, or my PawPaw, served in both the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Senate until term-limiting out.  One of the accomplishments he is known for is partnering with the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department to spread “The Natural State” as our state logo.  He was the one to change the Arkansas license plate to read “The Natural State.”  Although I was there to speak on behalf of Arkansas, they couldn’t help but acknowledge my PawPaw and his service to the state!

I was so thankful to see Jane White on Wednesday before my photo shoot in Russellville.  Jane is the Miss Arkansas make-up sponsor and has provided me with cosmetics throughout the year, along with makeovers for special events.  In Russellville, Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Ashton Campbell and I met Dr. Cooper to take pictures for magazine ads.  Dr. Michael Cooper gave both of us smile make-overs with durathins,  extremely thin veneers that do not require filing of the natural tooth.  As you can imagine, this was a very generous gift, and Ashton and I are always willing to promote him whenever possible!  We also took some fun photos together … I think you are going to love them!  Can’t wait to share!

Friday, I was delighted to return to Danville for the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet.  I shared the microphone with Representative Tim Griffin after a delicious meal!  Three people in particular made the evening very special!  Emily Patton, Danville native and pageant friend, gave me a very heartfelt introduction to the audience.  Also, I reunited with Kara Hill, who has been following me on Facebook since last year.  She even gave me a dove necklace to match hers!  Finally, I had a great chaperone, Jim Collins from Arkansas Tech University.  Jim prefers to be called the “body guard” and kept me laughing throughout the entire night! 

I was so thankful to spend Saturday before Mother’s Day with my mom!  She drove me to Mountain Home and suggested that I take motion sickness medicine since we had a long, winding drive.  So … I slept most of the way.  Once we made it to the Baxter Co. Library in Mountain Home, we enjoyed the afternoon with mothers and daughters at the tea party!  We played my favorite game, “Name that Tune” with Disney princess songs.  I spoke, performed, signed autographs, and took pictures with the little princesses!  Then, my mom drove me home, which made a total of seven hours in the car.  Whew! 

Speaking of Mother’s Day, I would like to recognize my mom and grandmother.  Both women have always represented selflessness and service.  I am so thankful for the loving example they have set!

Next week will be crazy fun!  I am heading to Dallas and Washington DC, while also attending four appearances in Arkansas.  Forgive me if the next blog is a little late, but please pray for my safe travels!  Also, I am looking forward to the Miss Arkansas contestant meeting on Sunday!  We will announce to the girls what to expect for this year’s pageant, along with a few sponsor secrets!  Woohoo!!  Then, on Monday we will host the third annual golf tournament to benefit the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation, the 501(c)3 non-profit foundation that granted over $70,000 in scholarship funds at last year’s state pageant.  Hope to see you there! 

In honor of the upcoming contestant meeting, I will leave you with advice about paperwork.  I suggest that you submit perfect paperwork because it is the judges’ first impression of you.  Have someone with advanced English skills double check your paperwork for typing and grammatical errors.  Also, make sure your resume and platform accurately reflect who you are.  Place your proudest accomplishments first when listing everything.  Then, when you are finally finished with the dozens of documents, contracts, and releases … treat yourself to chocolate.