Friday, June 26, 2015

Another Year in the Books (post pageant thoughts & new beginnings)

       Another year of competing for Miss New Jersey is in the books.  Of the three years I’ve been competing, each seems to go by faster than the others.  After being crowned Miss Gloucester County in August, I was able to reach out to my community in a way I had never done before.  The endless hours in the gym, numerous school visits with Kindness Kids, countless talent rehearsals, and many, many laughs with my pageant family are forever engrained in my memory.  Being Miss Gloucester County has enabled me to represent a county that shaped me to be who I am.  Spending my year with Tracy, Kelcie, and Sandi has shown me what it truly means to be part of a journey and to never take the experience for granted.  This year, I knew that while I couldn’t wait to leave for Ocean City to pursue the title once again, I was not ready for that week to be over.  I was ready to pour my heart out to the judges and to show New Jersey everything I have done to prepare myself to be their representative.  I was not, however, ready to find out if my hard work would pay off.  

       For almost a year, we local titleholders put everything we have into this organization.  We sacrifice down time with family and friends to try and be world-changers.  Instead of going out for ice cream with my friends, I opt for a gym session with my pageant sister or fulfill a commitment as Miss Gloucester County.  Each local titleholder chooses how she wants her year to pan out- how much effort she will exert in the hopes of becoming Miss New Jersey and how she wants to represent her title.  While the local titleholders get to choose how we will play the part of “Miss Local,” it is a panel of judges who chooses which girl will walk away as “Miss State.” So while I knew I had done everything I could to best represent Gloucester County and prepare myself for pageant week, I could not predict if I would walk away as Miss New Jersey.  It seemed to me that because I could not control if the judges would choose me, I could not control my own happiness.  This, my friends, is where I went wrong.  Your happiness does not rely on someone else’s ability to see your worth.  Repeat it with me.  YOUR HAPPINESS DOES NOT RELY ON SOMEONE ELSE’S ABILITY TO SEE YOUR WORTH.

            No one can expect to win Miss New Jersey.  There are simply too many amazing, deserving girls.  Did I expect to win Miss New Jersey?  Absolutely not.  Do I know I have the ability to be Miss New Jersey? Yes. If I never become a state titleholder, I will rest easy in knowing that through this crazy pageant experience, I made myself the best person I could be.  It is my hope that someday, I will meet a panel of judges that sees a potential in me and makes me their Miss New Jersey.  If that never happens, it is my hope that my peers, my little stars, my family, and everyone I come into contact with can see that passion without a crown on my head.  I will continue to uphold the ideals of this organization for the rest of my life.  Until I age out in two years (is it really that soon?) and am told it’s time to hand over the rhinestones, I will keep coming back for more. 
            With this being said, to continue on this #RoadToMissNJ, I must bid farewell to my current journey.  As a Miss New Jersey ruling, all local titleholders must resign their current title before attending orientation for another local pageant.  Being that I am attending orientation for Miss Seashore Line, Miss Coastal Shores, and Miss Cape Shores tomorrow, today is my last day as Miss Gloucester County 2015.  It has never been harder for me to say goodbye to a local title.  There are not enough words to say how grateful I am for Tracy and Sandi and for my best friend and pageant sister, Kelcie.  We’ve laughed we(you)’ve cried, but most importantly, we’ve shared this experience.  In each FaceTime meeting, mock interview, road trip, alterations appointment, and gym session, we have been in this together.  
 Sisters who workout on hotel room floors together stay together?
 Yes, we're being judged for our ridiculousness at visitation.  So worth the laughs.
One of my favorite moments of pageant week- Kelcie and I both had the privilege of being in the top five.  Nothing is as special as working toward a goal WITH a best friend.

       I cannot properly express what a joy it has been to be part of such an amazing organization and how much I’ve loved being Miss Gloucester County.  Every door must come to a close for another door to open.  Here’s to a new adventure.
            Thank you, all who are reading this, for sticking with me in all of my endeavors and caring enough to keep updated as I pursue my own dreams.  I’ll try to keep you on the edge of your seat…though not as suspenseful as being called last into the top ten (we can laugh about it now, right?) or the rumors that I’m competing for Miss North Carolina.  Did anyone really think this Jersey girl would give up that easily? ;) 
            All my love and gratitude,


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kindness Kids 2015

One week from today our state will crown the next Miss New Jersey.  For the past three years I’ve welcomed familiar feelings of anxiousness, excitement, preparedness, and most importantly, gratitude.  With every passing June, I am reminded by just how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity.  Since I was crowned in August, I’ve had the chance to meet some of the most amazing kids and community members who have helped shape me to be a better Brenna.  It has been my mission as Miss Gloucester County to #ScatterKindness and be an accessible role model for kids in the community.  Someday, I would love nothing more than to be able to expand those horizons and bring my platform work and my legacy of kindness to our entire state.  For now, I’d love to share the work I’ve done at the local level!  My Kindness Kids video shows some of the work elementary schoolers have been doing in the community for the past few months!  They have taught me more than I thought possible and I want to thank them for being a part of this journey with me.  Please share in hopes that others can find more ways to give back to their community and follow in these kids'  and my footsteps! 
All my love,

Monday, June 1, 2015

Glitter and Gratitude

Miss New Jersey week is so close!  One week from tonight I will be in Ocean City ready to check in for my third year competing for the title of Miss New Jersey.  Looking back on my experience with the Miss America Organization, and especially with the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation, I am filled with nothing but fond memories and lessons.  I’m sure that regardless of what happens in this year’s pageant, those memories will grow and continue to shape the person I am!  My year as Miss Gloucester County has been a dream come true.  I have been so blessed to have met numerous community members and have been able to complete countless volunteer acts in Gloucester County.  I was reminded of how lucky I am yesterday at Kelcie and my send-off party.  We were surrounded by so much love and motivation- I don’t think I can put into words how it made me feel.  As a teen contestant growing up, I was afraid to tell my friends about my pageant endeavors.  I was afraid of coming off the wrong way and wanted to avoid the stereotypes that so many believe.  I looked around the room yesterday and saw so many faces of people I care about, supporting me and my journey. 
 One of my "little stars" for this year!
 My beautiful cousin, Maddi :)
 Mama Grabert & Christopher!
 Rachel allowed me to come speak in her 5th grade class this year!
 The most lovely Mom-mom!
 Thank you, Amanda for serenading us with your amazing voice and being such an awesome sister!
Love the Miss GC/MissSJ pageant family!

            Today, because of your confidence in me, I am proud to tell friends, family, and strangers about my time competing in the organization, and enjoy proving the “pageant girl” stereotype wrong.  Do I have an affinity for glitter?  Yes.  Do I enjoy wearing make-up?  Yes.  Do I strut on stage in a swimsuit and 5 inch heels?  Yes.  Do I live a lifestyle of health and fitness?  Absolutely.  Do I spend every free moment I have advocating for a cause?  Absolutely.  Some aspects of the pageant stereotype are true, and I am unashamed and proud to show that side of myself.  What others may not know is that there is so much hard work and dedication that goes into competing in the Miss America Organization.  Next week I will compete with some of the most competent, healthy, bright, determined young women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  They are all astounding in their ability to juggle being full-time students, philanthropists, performers, and fierce friends.  While some of us may fit into the pageant stereotypes of glitter, makeup, hairspray, and high heels, we do not fit a mold of perfection.  Each contestant has a unique story that has lead her to the Miss New Jersey stage.  Most importantly, each contestant defies the “pageant girl” stereotype’s idea that we must not get along.  I cannot count the amount of times I have lost my breath from laughter with these girls.  I cannot count the times I’ve been offered help when I needed it- whether emotionally, in volunteer endeavors, or backstage.  Next week will be no different.  I am beyond excited to spend another week with my fellow contestants, laughing, dancing, (not) sleeping, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

            Thank you, to all who keep up with my crazy #RoadToMissNewJersey.  I hope you all understand that your support does not go unnoticed.  I feel like the luckiest girl in all of Gloucester County to represent my community and what it stands for!  Stay tuned for another blog post pre-pageant- there are plenty of thoughts going on and I’m excited to share with you!  To follow my day-to-day endeavors as Miss GC, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!  
Twitter: or @kcandvo
Instagram: or @keepcalmandvolunteeron

Follow Kelcie and I as we represent Gloucester County and South Jersey at:
Instagram: or @missgcandmisssj
Until next time,