Photo Courtesy: Molly O'Keefe
On May 7th I was blessed to have been awarded my Bachelors of Science in Psychology degree from High Point University. As I listened to Condoleezza Rice address my classmates and I, one part of her speech resonated with me: Dr. Rice told the story of her grandfather and his journey to securing an education for himself. She told us about her college experience and said, "education is a privilege, not a right." Her words reminded me that I am extremely lucky to have been given the opportunities that I have and urged me to continue working hard for the things I want in life. As Miss New Jersey preparation is in full swing, this notion is relevant in many ways. Being involved in the Miss America Organization is such a privilege- my fellow contestants and I have worked extremely hard preparing a talent, staying physically fit, processing public speaking, and nurturing our communities. In one month, a woman will wear the Miss New Jersey crown and begin the journey of a lifetime, but only after she proves that she earned that privilege.
I'm elated to have this opportunity for the fourth time and am eager to share some "fun stuff" now that the competition begins in less than one month! On Tuesday, June 14th, I will check-in to Miss New Jersey week as contestant number 14 in group A! I selected my placement first of all contestants thanks to the many business owners, family, and friends who placed advertisements in the program book. I, with the help of Mantua Township Deputy Mayor Zimmerman, collected $5,300.00 worth of ads! That money goes directly to the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation and becomes scholarship money for award winners at this year's pageant. Being in Group A means I will compete in Talent on Thursday, June 16th, and Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit/Evening Gown and Onstage Question Friday, June 17th. On Thursday night, I will sing on the Miss New Jersey stage for the first time.
Miss New Jersey Orientation 2016
Photo Courtesy: Richard Krauss
"The Shore Girls" at Miss New Jersey Orientation 2016
Photo Courtesy: Richard Krauss
While I have always been a "singer," performing with my High School Vocale Ensemble and in musicals throughout my life, performing as a singer at Miss New Jersey is a foreign experience for me.
The Wizard of Oz, Clearview High School 2012 (Maybe I should have brought back "Over the Rainbow" for my talent ;)
I am aware of the many people who question why I changed my talent or doubt whether it will pay off- I can pretend that their skepticism does not affect me, but I think it would be a disservice to me and any of the young girls who consider me a role model. Vulnerability is uncomfortable, but it is also necessary for growth. Yes, I am nervous to debut a "new" talent at a state competition- but I think this is why I'm so incredibly excited as well. I chose to sing this year because I wanted to push myself and step out of my own comfort zone. I wanted to show my Little Stars and mentees that your decisions are your own and no one else's. I want them to know that they can do whatever they set their minds to, and no one's doubt will change the outcome. This year, I am singing "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde for my talent on the Miss New Jersey stage and I'm actually giddy thinking about it!
Friday night, I will wear my gown from The Right Fit- shout out to you, Debbie, for always making me feel like a million bucks!
I will also wear a swimsuit from our sponsor, Irene West! I am working hard to be at my personal best for the swimsuit competition and need to thank Training Aspects one thousand times over for their support and expertise. I have been working with them to achieve my fitness goals for three years and could not be more thankful for our friendship.
Thank you, Irene, for sponsoring not only the Miss New Jersey pageant for the second year, but for sponsoring the Miss America pageant this coming September!
We've been through many pageant titles, workouts, and shenanigans- wouldn't have it any other way!
Last, I am thrilled to share with you the Miss New Jersey parade theme, "Miss New Jersey in Toyland!" Each year, Ocean City welcomes our organization for the week and starts the festivities with a "Show Me Your Shoes" parade, following the Miss America tradition. For this year's event, I will be portraying Legos! Let's just say this theme has proven to be lots of fun and plenty of painful moments stepping on Legos strewn around my house (sorry, mom and dad). The parade is Wednesday, June 15th and free for any boardwalk goers!
As I continue working hard to earn the Miss New Jersey title, I am reminded just how privileged I have been my entire life to have my family and friends. While lots of graduates are busy celebrating, my friends spent last night with me gluing Legos onto a pair of heels. While many Moms would spend their lunch break relaxing, my Mom spends her free time chatting with me about politics, walking alongside me while I do park bench burpees, and looking for the perfect interview shoes. While most people spend their time and money on a nice summer vacation, 65 of my friends and family chose to come to Ocean City, NJ to watch me pursue my dreams. I am utterly bewildered by how supported I am, near and far. Thank you simply does not cover it. For the next month, I will show my gratitude by busting my booty and working hard to make my dreams a reality!
Official Headshot, Photo Courtesy: Richard Krauss