Sunday, February 14, 2016

Playing Catch Up Part 2

This one will be a little more about my personal life. Life comes in up and down stretches, and I happy to be lucky enough to be in an up stretch.

In August, I competed for the title of Miss White River, and in all honesty, I thought I was just going for the experience. 8 of the 11 girls competing had just gotten back from Miss Arkansas, and one of the remaining 3 had been a runner up several times at Miss Arkansas. The whole day I just kept thinking to myself about the 20 preliminaries I had done to get to Miss Arkansas and fretting about how many I would have to do to get back. I think it affected my onstage performance, but I walked out of interview feeling like it was one of the best ones I had ever done with the exception of a few little old bad habits that I yelled at myself for. Anyways...

If you look back at my crowning moment, you can see honest shock and excitement. The Miss White River Pageant Association is made up of individuals who are sweet, caring, knowledgeable cheerleaders who want every contestant to have the time of their lives even if they don't win. I'd fallen in love with this group before they ever announced me as the winner, and the prize package is nothing to scoff at!

I want to take a moment to brag on Katie Gardner, Miss White River's Outstanding Teen.
She's been first runner up to Miss Arkansas's Outstanding Teen three years in a row, and she is still giving everything she's got to return to that stage this summer. I'd say I don't understand why she keeps coming back, but I absolutely do. I've mentioned before that I'm a completely changed person because of these experiences, and I wouldn't give up these people or opportunities for anything. She excels in so many extracurricular, and her STEM platform allows her to showcase her intelligence. I'm pretty honored to get to spend this year with her.

Also, if you want to see both of us, you can stop by IHOP on March 8th in Fayetteville from 3-5 p.m. and celebrate National Pancake Day. If you can't make it to Fayetteville, be sure to stop by your local IHOP for a free short stack and give to CMN!

Okay, personal life time.

  • I started as a tax intern for JPMS Cox (a CPA firm in Little Rock) in late January, and I'm learning things that directly apply to my future career. It's pretty stressful, because I want them to like me and I want to perform well. However, my coworkers are extremely encouraging and are facilitating the whole process like the pros that they are.
  • Wes accepted a job offer with Walmart as an IT analyst and will start either in late May or early June. While I'm not thrilled that he's moving out of Conway and away from me while I finish my college time, I'm so proud of the man that he is.
  • One of the up sides of Wes taking this job and us getting tax refunds is that we are able to take a vacation to celebrate our 4 year anniversary, his new job, and our undergrad graduations. WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD. AND UNIVERSAL TO SEE HARRY POTTER WORLD. AHHHHHH.
  • I originally didn't think that I'd be able to walk at graduation in May with Wes and would have to wait until December, but I'm pleased to announce that I get to walk early. So, I'll walk at graduation in May and finish my degree in the summer. So, I'll get to start my Master's in the Fall!!
  • In case my four pets that I mentioned in my first post were not enough, I added my sweet puppy Bella to the mix. She's part Shiba Inu, part Alaskan Klee Kai (forever husky puppy). I know, it's a mouthful. 

Playing Catch Up

I've always wanted to have a blog, but school, work, and being a local titleholder leave me with very little free time. However, for those that enjoy reading about my experiences or want to know a little more about how the Miss America Organization works, I want to try to be a little more regular.

So, I'm going to start by playing catch up.

Visiting Arkansas Children's Hospital last May was one of the highlights of my year, both pageant and non-pageant related. It's one of those experiences that makes you a little more appreciative of the crown that you wear. To compete, a contestant must raise $100 per local (after the fourth preliminary, you no longer have that requirement), $250 to compete at the state level, and $500 to compete at Miss America. This may sound like a lot, but I've found that people are very willing to give to such a worthy cause. Further, the Miss America Organization has raised over $10 million since partnering with CMN. We toured the facilities and got to see first hand why Arkansas Children's Hospital is a place that truly makes a child's visit the most positive experience it can be. As we were leaving, a mom pulled Chelsy Jones, Aubrianna Burroughs, and myself aside and asked if we would come say hi to her little girl who did pageants, but was in the hospital for seizures. I can honestly tell you that almost a year later, that sweet little girl still holds a place in my heart and I've followed every minute of her journey since then. Watching her light up when we put our crowns on her head was extremely fulfilling, and I get emotional thinking about it.

Before the water works start and I get completely distracted, I'm going to move on to my week at Miss Arkansas.

I had two goals going into that week. I wanted to win an interview award and make the Top 10. While I didn't make the Top 10 (and more on that experience later), I did receive an Alpha Interview award. That award goes to a first time contestant at the state pageant in each of the three groups. One of my favorite pictures from the week is Laura and I reaching to each other when our names were called.

I thought I would be terrified when I stepped onto that stage. However, every time I was on the Miss Arkansas stage I just felt at peace. After 3 years and 20 preliminaries, I was getting to experience the Miss Arkansas pageant. I had worked for it; I was in the gym four times a week leading up to the pageant, doing mock interview after mock interview, and singing my talent every time someone wasn't looking. When you get there, you just find peace knowing you've done all you can do.

Look, they fed us pizza, chips and cheese dip, and dessert during the week of Miss Arkansas. Contestants spend all of this time making sure they eat right and working out so that we score all of the points we can in swimsuit, and then we pig out the entire week of the pageant. I don't even know what else to say :)

I miss that week so bad. We stayed at ASMSA in Hot Springs, which made the whole week feel like Miss Arkansas summer camp. Every time a girl's name was called for an award, I swelled inside with pride. I spent the week admiring all of the work and passion each girl puts into her time as a local titleholder, and I would've been happy for anyone that won the coveted title. In all honesty though, Loren McDaniel is the perfect choice. She's talented, brilliant, and driven.

A little bit about Loren...

  • She is pursuing her Masters in Theatre Arts in Alabama after her reign is up and will do so debt free thanks to the Miss America Organization.
  • Although she was eligible to compete for one more year, she decided that this last year would be her last to compete so that she could focus solely on grad school in another state. 
  • Knowing how desperately she wanted this opportunity and that this would be her final shot, I kind've rooted for her to win. So, congrats sweet girl :D
I feel like I could write pages and pages and pages about the experience, but I won't because that's ridiculous and I'd actually like someone to read my posts. Just know this: if you are thinking about competing, are thinking about giving up, are wondering whether or not to let your daughter compete... Competing in this organization is something I will never regret, even if it takes me 20 more preliminaries next time to get back to Miss Arkansas. I've met some of my best friends, grown as a woman, and made some fantastic memories. Don't give up.

A Big Weekend

Let me start off by saying that I've waited a long time to experience all that this weekend had to offer. Last year, after 13 preliminaries I sat down and cried. While I was obviously sad that I would not get to compete for the title of Miss Arkansas, I was more sad that I wouldn't get to tour Arkansas Children's Hospital or volunteer for some events that were titleholder exclusive. When I won back in October, I was ecstatic to finally be privy to the perks that come with being a Miss Arkansas preliminary titleholder. However, I definitely felt some serious withdrawals over the last few months, because I was use to being surrounded by my Miss Arkansas sisters every few weeks while performing and speaking about the things that make me passionate during onstage question and interview. The lottery held me over for a little bit, but I was HUNGRY to have another little piece of the Miss Arkansas action.

We kicked the weekend off with the Spring Contestant Meeting. It was really the first chance we've had to have all 46 contestants in the room (sans Kelli Collins because she had something else going on), and it was awesome to meet some new women and really start to form those friendships that make Miss Arkansas week a blast. It was quite enlightening listening to what was expected of us and the future Miss Arkansas, and Ashton did a great job highlighting what has made her year so far great. Something that really stuck out to me was her comment that her crown was made to be beat up. Every time that a child dropped her crown and another point was broken, she was fulfilling her role a little more. Honestly, I'm pretty protective of my crown. It took me 20 preliminaries to win that crown and it terrifies me to think of it getting messed up. But, she is right. I want to make a little girl's week when she gets to wear my crown and feel like a princess. I want to inspire young girls to compete when they are older. I didn't want to win a preliminary solely so I could have a shiny object on my head. I want to make a difference in the life of every person I meet, and being protective of my crown is not the way to do it. So, thank you Miss Arkansas 2014 for impacting my outlook on my time as a titleholder.

We also did some daybreak shots that will be featured on Channel 7 during the week of Miss Arkansas, so check those out. We also took our group shots, and that was pretty cool! I finally feel like I'm about to compete for Miss Arkansas!

After all of that seriousness, we got to put on a different pair of heels and partake in Spikes and Stilettos. This was a cocktail party where the contestants got to meet and celebrate the sponsors and golfers that make the Miss Arkansas Golf Classic happen. I wasn't really sure what to expect. At other banquets at which I've volunteered, it was usually our responsibility to chat up everyone and ask them to buy something. They don't always want to talk or spend money, and it can get a little awkward. My favorite part of those events is learning about a new cause to be passionate about and hearing the background of everyone I meet.
This cocktail party was the best of both worlds. Everyone was willing to chat and tell me who they were and how they were affiliated. We were all there to celebrate the organization that brought us together. The band rocked, and the food was awesome. I had a blast singing Redneck Woman with my fellow Miss Arkansas sisters and dancing around Leslie and her selfie stick (shoutout to my fabulous roommate)! It was just an all around awesome experience, and I'm so thankful we have sponsors such as OneBanc and Silent Circle.

Today we were suppose to have both the Miss Arkansas Golf Classic, one of the largest fundraisers for scholarships, and our visit to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Unfortunately, all the rain this week left the golf course to muddy to play on, so it has been rescheduled to the 6th of July, and I'll get to help with it then!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Miss Arkansas Lottery Day!

Today was the second major step in my Miss Arkansas journey (the first being the night I won my preliminary title)! We turned in our platforms and resumes today which make up the application for the job that is Miss Arkansas, and the judges will use those as a first impression and a sounding board for our private interviews. For those of you that don't know, my platform is titled "Empowering Musical Minds" because I hope to bring awareness about the benefits that come from listening to music consistently and actively participating. It's crazy the physical health benefits such as faster recovery  time and pain relief from surgeries, as well as improved memory and function in your older years. At to that the focus and stress relief gained from listening to music, it's no wonder that music is a staple in my life and should be in everyone's!

Anyways, I've gotten mildly off topic. I have Miss Arkansas fever. After competing in 13 (!!!) preliminaries last year, I got a little spoiled about always having my Miss Arkansas sisters around and the confidence boost that is performing on stage. I'm having some serious withdrawals, because I won in October! I finally found a talent song I truly connect with just two weeks ago on the same day that I got my MISS ARKANSAS EVENING GOWN. And did I mention that it's the first evening gown that is all mine that I picked out and tried on? So, to wrap all of that all up, I'm stoked and ready to give my heart to the Miss Arkansas judges, and hopefully all of America if I fulfill my dream of becoming Miss Arkansas.

I also want to give a shout out to my Diamond State Princess Mary Camille Lambert and her parents Chris and Cristal Lambert for letting me experience not only the week of Miss Arkansas, but the rest of my time as Miss Petit Jean Valley as well!

So... the lottery. I knew that I wanted my last impression before finals on Saturday to be talent, because this is the first song that I just knew I was meant to sing. Going into the lottery, I wanted to be group C and one of the first to go so that I could enjoy the evening rather than spending the night filled with anxiety. I was the 5th or 6th to go and I found my perfect spot. You are looking at contest C34 out of 46 girls vying for the title of Miss Arkansas! Check out my facebook album that has some pictures for today.

For those of you that are coming to Miss Arkansas, remember that Greeks get in free on Friday and Saturday, as well as Cheer members I believe! Thank you so much for your continued support!

Speaking of support!!!!!!
It means the world to me to have been sponsored by my sorority- Sigma Sigma Sigma at the University of Central Arkansas.
I was also sponsored by George S. Mackey, CPA, and how fitting is that a future CPA was sponsored by a CPA? Thank you George and Alex for your support!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Little About Me

Hello All!

I've never blogged before, but this will be my first year as a preliminary titleholder in the Miss America Organization! I hope that this blog will be a good way to keep track of my exciting experiences throughout the years that I participate in Miss Arkansas.

For those of you I've never met or my Miss Arkansas sisters I haven't gotten a chance to know yet, I want to give you some background information on myself.

Fun Facts:

  • I'm frequently asked where I'm from, and the question baffles me every time. I simply cannot pick one! I was born in Sherman, TX and I lived there until I was nine. Then, my mom was offered the chance to be the sales manager for DirectBuy in Little Rock, AR (and she was the number one salesperson in the country for at least two years.... right mom?). From there, my mom and Nana opened their own DirectBuy franchise in Bentonville, AR and I attended school in Rogers, AR for 8th grade-graduation. My mom remarried and both of my parents ended up in Colorado. I, however, stayed in Arkansas and came to school here at UCA. I liked to make the sad joke that I had no permanent address for two years, because it was the sad truth as I bounced from friends and the UCA dorm (Farris Hall) my freshmen and sophomore year. 

    • So, I just tell people I graduated from Rogers, but my hometown is Conway.  

    • I owned a hedgehog named Spike, and I was allergic to him. So my roommate that cuddled with him frequently took him and paid my roommate with a ferret the amount I paid for Spike, and I took the ferret (Lily), because she was allergic! The ex-ferret roommate now owns a bearded-dragon and two leopard geckos (Shout  out to Shannon and Lori Beth!).
    • I now own TWO ferrets (Lily and Chino) (Chino is short for Cappucino because he was coffee colored when we got him and he LOVES Starbucks coffee). I had a beta fish named Sprout, but he recently died. When I lived in the dorm I had Glo-Fish (guppies that had coral/seaweed injected in their eggs) in the dorm, but they all died except for the evil one Hallie had, and I sold Fiona the Glo-Fish with her tank. 
    • I also have two cats, Nala and Chai. Nala thinks her name is "Kitty-Kitty" or "Big Kitty." Wes had a dog named Nala, but his roommate named Wes's cat Nala anyways. Now the cat stays with me and we both refuse to call her Nala. Chai really loves Chai tea. This whole naming-cats-after-the-beverage-of-mine-they-consume thing is probably a life long habit. 
    • Side Note; Chai tea is currently my favorite beverage, and I pretty much consume it with milk just about every night before bed. IF YOU'RE LOOKING TO SEND ME A GIFT DURING MISS ARKANSAS, I prefer Oregon Chai that comes both in a liquid concentrate and a powder (purple and orange box)!
    • My mom, Diana Woller, owns her own clothing-line and store named Diana Lynn Fashion (, and MAO/Tri-Sigma women get 25% off (MAO25)!
    • Last but not least, my wonderful boyfriend Wesley Blakemore, attended every pageant I competed in last year and this year. Those of us in pageant land just call him Pageant Mom. 

    Finally, the reason I've started this blog is to document my year as a titleholder... so with that being said....
    For those that have followed my journey or are close to me,  y'all know it was a long but worthwhile journey. I competed in one Outstanding Teen pageant at 16 (Miss Lakes of the Northwest OT, 3rd runner up) and was hooked, because I missed doing the pageants I had done with my mom growing up. I was bumped up to Miss the next year at 17 and a senior in high school. I did two preliminaries that year, and three the next without having my name called once. The third year, last year, I did THIRTEEN PRELIMINARIES and ranged between 4th runner up and 1st runner up (several times). While I was definitely discouraged at times, it was great for me to actually get to watch Miss Arkansas for the first time over the summer, and I had a blast at every preliminary getting to know some pretty incredible women. This year, I won the title of Miss Petit Jean Valley, which was my second preliminary! I know that God has a plan, and there was a reason that I needed to wait, and I'm so thankful for the support system that kept me going and continues to support me now!

    P.S. I'm still getting the hang of formatting and what not, so I apologize for the somewhat randomly placed pictures!