Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thoughts from Cloud 9 (quite literally)

Hello from some 26,000 miles above Virginia!  You are most likely aware by now that I attend school at High Point University in North Carolina.  New Jersians and North Carolinians alike often ask me why I continue to compete for Miss New Jersey when I spend a good portion of my year studying down south.  There’s a long list of reasons why I choose to compete where I do, but to simplify it for you, it’s because Jersey has been and will always be home to me.  When I talk about my travel plans, my flight to New Jersey is always deemed my flight “home” while my flight to North Carolina is just another trip to school.  I’m always excited to travel to a new city and to experience what our country has to offer, but New Jersey is the only place that gives me the warm heart, butterflies, seeing your puppy after a long day feeling (I’d also like to mention my bias for New Jersey drivers- we all know what we’re doing).  Plus, how could I leave a state where I get to compete alongside my friends?  This organization is a family and I will always have a place in my heart for the contestants, volunteers, and directors.  As I leave home to wrap up my semester, I’m reflecting on this past weekend.  I attended my third Miss New Jersey Orientation and was able to pack in a few important errands throughout my stay. 
            When I arrived Friday afternoon, I was greeted by my adorable yorkie, Zoey, and loving parents (if that isn’t enough to distress me from end-of-the-semester blues already, I don’t know what is)!  My mom and pageant sister Kelcie helped me decide what to pack and we were off for Ocean City, the home of the Miss New Jersey pageant!  We stayed with our pageant family, including our lovely directors, in a family shore house (thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Sykora!), and bonded over hummus and funny stories.  People may tell you that pageantry is stressful, but I can say that I am at my most relaxed when talking pageant world with my perfect pageant family.  After not enough sleep, but plenty of laughs, Kelcie, Sandi (Miss SJ Executive Director), Tracy and I were off to orientation!  We spent the day learning all about this year’s pageant and our new pageant sisters who are competing for the first time.  I cannot say enough how wonderful all of the contestants are and how much they inspire me.  Hearing about everyone’s passions and plans for the future reminds me that The Miss America Organization is a life-changing program that shapes women to be their best. 
Once we arrived in OC, we decided to pay a visit to Yianni's a restaurant that sponsors the Miss NJ contestants for a meal during pageant week!  If you're ever in town, be sure to visit.  Their hummus and pita is reason enough :)

Ready for orientation!

            Now for the exciting part- I am thrilled to announce that I am contestant number 20 in group B for this year’s pageant!  This means I will meet with the judges for a private interview Thursday afternoon, June 11th.  Later that evening I will compete in both Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear and Evening Gown/onstage question.  Friday evening I’ll perform my talent selection, a dance choreographed by Shae Sullivan, to “Don’t Forget Me” from SMASH!  As for the rest of the week, I’ll be portraying Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series in the Parade, “Pages Through the Ages.”  If you know me well, you should know that I am borderline (okay, fully) obsessed with Harry Potter and re-read the series constantly.  I’ll be modeling a gorgeous turquoise swimsuit, courtesy of our sponsor, Irene West, and modeling a gown that started in my head and was brought to life by the designers at Jovani!  Finding out my placement makes pageant week feel so much closer.  I am absolutely thrilled with how things are shaping up! 

 Selfies are always a good idea...thanks Anna!
Love these girls!
We love Richard, official photographer for the Miss NJ Education Foundation!

            Post-orientation, I traveled back to Gloucester County to support an extremely special little girl.  The Mantua United Methodist Church hosted a spaghetti dinner to raise money for Sophia’s seizure assistance dog.  I lead a singalong featuring plenty of Disney Princess favorites and met some truly talented little ones who took the stage by storm!  Later, I was able to have a personal visit with Sophia since she was unable to join the festivities.  I presented her with a crown from my own collection and was able to tell her how much we all care about her.  I wasn’t able to hang with her too long, but on my way out, I heard her exclaim, “this is the best day ever!” to her mom.  It’s events like these that remind me why I am part of this organization and how local titleholders can truly make a difference in someone’s day.  Thank you, Sue, for inviting me to join in on Sophia’s celebration!  I will never forget it. 
 The puppies who welcomed me to the seizure assistance dog benefit!
 My new singalong friends :)
 Got to catch up with marina, Miss Gateway's Outstanding Teen!
 Mrs. Reynolds remembered me from my preschool days at the Rocking Horse Ranch!
Love me some Mama Grabert :)
 Presenting Princess Sophia with her new crown!
Look for these cuties on American Idol- they've got some serious talent.

            Before jumping on this flight, I took part in a Duke of Edinburough pre-journey to prepare for our adventurous journey coming up, and had a training session with Ki at Training Aspects!  I’m so motivated to be my best at Miss New Jersey this year and make memories that will last a lifetime!  Stay tuned for more updates as I will be “home” for good oh so soon!  It’s sometimes stressful, mostly hectic, and always worth it. 

With lots of love,

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