The stronger the why, the easier the how.
Four years ago, some of my greatest accomplishments included catching the biggest frogs for my town’s annual frog jumping contest and having the coolest birthday parties because of the zip-line and tightrope in my backyard. I was the opposite of what I thought to be a “pageant girl” but decided to compete because it meant I had an audience to dance for and a microphone to talk about what I’ve always cared so deeply for: ending hunger. I wore cow girl boots in my interview and was absolutely starstruck by all the titleholders. Little did I know that I would walk away as one of them, embarking on a journey of exponential personal growth, leadership, and sisterhood.
I get butterflies looking at the pictures from that first competition because I know the girl catching frogs would never believe if someone were to tell her not only what she will accomplish, but also who she will soon become.
The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization has given me so much, and I’ll forever strive to repay even a portion of what I have gained through competing. It is because of this program that I know how to win and also how to lose. I know that with hard work, determination, and a little hope anything is possible. I know what I stand for, and I really do stand for it. I have found my passion, purpose, and power through pageants. Who I am, and who I want to be, I credit it all to the organization that taught me the first step to success is believing you are worthy of it.
Almost two weeks ago, I was crowned Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen. (Still can’t say that without the widest smile!) I feel overcome with gratitude, honor, and responsibility as this dream becomes a reality. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the scholarship program throughout my year of service. I have so many goals for myself and the organization and I’ve already been busy working to accomplish them. Through my years of competing, I knew holding such a title is a full time job, but as I step into the role, I am committing myself to give my all and embody the values and missions of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization. I owe it to the volunteers and my sister titleholders to represent them with all the grace and humility as I can.
I was asked in my interview what my guardian angel would tell me, and instantly I thought of the quote by author Sylvester Mcnutt, “She’d overcome everything meant to destroy her, she wasn’t giving up now.” I have always thought that everything happens for a reason, but that belief has been tested as this year has been challenging for me and there were times when it was hard to persist towards my goals. However, I entered pageant weekend already extremely proud of myself because I knew that no matter what happened, I had made it through my hardest days. I can’t imagine my life without the people who were there with me during it all.
They say it takes a village, but I never could have done it without the cities of support my family, friends, and mentors have built for me. I absolutely am the sum of my counterparts and for that I am eternally grateful. I will never be able to thank each and every person who has contributed to my growth along the way. It all means the world and more to me, not only the dance classes, mock interviews, and costume fittings, for when it really comes down to it, those are extra, but all the words of encouragement, hugs, and texts have made all the difference. I feel my whole body overwhelm with gratitude as I look back on the past four years and think about all the people who have given so much, and believed in me since the very beginning. I will never stop thanking you.
That leads me to one last thing… sisterhood! I think it is safe to say the Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen dressing rooms are THE place to be. Every year, I have so much fun spending the entire weekend with the fellow contestants. I never thought I would build so many strong friendships by competing in pageants, but these girls are sure to be my lifelong sisters. It is a great honor to be a part of a class of individuals who are each so talented, intelligent, and making such a difference in their community. Whether it is gluing on fake eyelashes, zipping up a gown, or giving a good luck hug, this sisterhood is SO real during competition weekend and far beyond. When I look through my photos from the weekend, there is one thing that is the exact same in all of them, the faces of the girls in the background. My biggest cheerleaders were on stage with me, cheering, jumping up and down, crying happy tears, and radiating community, not competition. There is no one I would rather have shared the moment when my dream came true with than the girls standing behind me as this crown was placed on my head.
It still feels unreal, but I wake up everyday with new goals and new plans. The next few months are going to be crazy, but I will never stop feeling so grateful to have the opportunity to lead in my state and give back to the organization that has given me so much. I am ready for all that is ahead. New Hampshire, thank you.