"We need another volunteer" was music to my ears. After a crazy whirlwind of 3 weeks as VP Recruitment for my sorority, I finally had a weekend where I had little planned so I was able to volunteer for MusicLink at the Mall of America. MusicLink raises money for kids that wouldn't be able to afford music lessons. They had various talented kids come, donate, and perform to raise money. I was working the registration table and let me tell you, I saw some amazing talent! Piano, guitar, vocal...it was an enjoyable volunteer opportunity. I even got to watch Michelle (pre-teen) sing for the first time! I had always known she was passionate about music (see her first music video here!) but it was great to finally hear her! Shout out to Michelle's mom who took all the pictures because as much as I love my great new camera, I forgot to charge the batteries. Rookie mistake.
As part of my competition for the Miss Minnesota title, I was required to write an essay from a list of three prompts. One that hit home right away was, "How do you define True Beauty?" I'm sharing this now because I feel we can always use a reminder of how each and every one of us is different and unique, and that's okay. The words below and true, every last one. I remember I began tearing up just a bit as I finished the essay because of how much I've learned through my journey with NAM and how other girls are just beginning theirs. My wish is that by examples of NAM queens, girls around the United States will be given hope that being yourself, flaws and all, is okay.
What is True Beauty?
When I see the phrase True Beauty, I feel pride and accomplishment, but most importantly knowing I was a part of something bigger than myself. Lead by Amanda Moreno (2011 All-American Miss), the Teen Queens of 2010 started the True Beauty movement and I’m proud to say I was in the first wave of queens to take pictures in white t-shirts, banners, and no makeup.
In today’s world, it’s rare and "unnatural" to find pictures of anyone famous without makeup. By reigning pageant queens taking a stand by posting pictures without makeup, we can not only break the pageant stereotype but encourage other girls to view themselves as beautiful as well, even without makeup. It’s a sad truth that teenage girls can no longer feel beautiful without makeup covering their natural features and are constantly comparing themselves to airbrushed models.
I love the message the True Beauty Movement sends because beauty isn’t just about stunning dresses, sparkly shoes, or a perfect smoky eye. Those aspects of being a girl are fun, but they do not capture the true beauty underneath each girl. It’s the passion, that sparkle in a girl’s eye when she talks about what is most important to her that really makes her shine. It’s the timid sixth grader who breaks out of her shell and finds she can be a leader that makes a girl gain confidence. It’s the long days of volunteering in the hot summer sun but still leaving with a smile that shows the girl is strong.
And it’s that enthusiasm a girl brings in conversation, that confidence she shows speaking on stage, and strength and determination in whatever she chooses to do that truly makes her beautiful.
How do I know? I’ve seen the transformation in multiple girls throughout my years in pageants and most personally, I’ve seen it in myself. I was that shy six grader who turned into a leader, I was that volunteer on a summer afternoon, and I am that girl with a sparkle in her eye when she talks about things most meaningful to her.
Because of pageants, I’m secure and confident in myself, with or without makeup, and wish to show others they can be too. True Beauty is letting personality shine through to let the world see how beautiful each and every girl is.
It's been a crazy last month getting back from Nationals and conquering finals which is not an easy task. But even exhausted from school, I was able to get in the Christmas spirit by volunteering my time with the One for Joe organization which collects toys for boys and girls battling cancer. It was quite an early morning in Andover, MN which was made possible by a grande mocha. Accompanying me was my fabulous boyfriend who volunteered to make the early, hour-long drive.
I was able to meet Joe, the founder of the event, and thanks to the contributions of the local community and Sam's club, the One for Joe organization was able to make a true impact by collecting over 1,000 toys. They even did a segment on Channel 9 news about the fundraising!
So funny story. I was also supposed to attend the Lights in the Park event later that night. I was a little late getting there and there was no way for me to get where I was supposed to be! The only way in was sitting in a line of cars that stretched the entire street and the line wasn't moving. My boyfriend and I drove around 3 times to see if there was any other way to get to where I needed to be and eventually after 40 minutes of circling, we gave up and turned around. Sometimes, it's just not meant to be. Even Miss Minnesota is human.
The Odyssey is a Greek Life newspaper at the University of Minnesota and they published an interview I had with them about my upcoming trip to Nationals. I knew I was going to have my interview in the paper, but I didn't know I was going to make the front page! The publication goes out to all Greek houses on campus which means it reaches over 1,000 students.
To read the article, go to the link below and read pages 4-5.
SHOUT OUT to all the NAM Minnesota contestants this year. Because of your donation of a book or stuffed animal, I am able to give over 340 books to Women's Advocates, a local women's shelter in St. Paul that my sorority and I closely work with.
I love the title of Miss Minnesota for the fun and glamorous events (like NATIONALS in just a week!) but also for the positive impact I can make on my community and the entire state. I know the children at Women's Advocates will love this addition to their library.
Eden Prairie News
Okay this is cool. My community is supporting me in my journey to Nationals! The article to the left is from Eden Prairie News and was published November 1st. It talks about my upcoming trip to California to compete at Nationals and lists a few things I've involved with on campus.
To see the online version, click here: http://www.edenprairienews.com
In addition, I just finished an interview with a reporter from The Odyssey, a publication on the University of Minnesota campus specifically for the Greek community. It will be published November 15th, just two days before I leave for Nationals. Can't wait to read it!
After a late night in the U of M Homecoming parade, I survived the early wake-up call to go to the Autism Speaks walk at the Mall of America (with a little help from a friend called Starbucks). I met up with Michelle, our Pre-Teen queen, and her mom to walk for a very great cause. I got to catch up and hear all about how busy Michelle has been which has included modeling in a charity runway show and shooting her very first music video. How cool! We signed some shirts, did a lap around the bottom floor of MOA (which I now have pretty much memorized), and got to run under a giant parachute which was pretty much like reliving the BEST days of gym class in kindergarten. I'm always a little kid at heart.
Kylie, Ava, and I
Then a quick change into some 2008 NAM Nationals hot pink gear and I was off to represent NAM at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk which I have been fortunate enough to attend multiple times. I met up with my two littlest queens, Kylie (Princess) and Ava (Jr. Pre Teen), and their families and friends to walk over 3 miles...which is a long way for little legs! We were also joined by the 2007 Miss Minnesota Teen, Samantha. Together we braved the weather which kept switching from misting to sprinkling just slightly which wouldn't have been a problem if you weren't wearing a crown that could tarnish! Hence why the crowns were taken off half way through and gloves and hats put on. Oh Minnesota weather.
I had such a blast at this event not just because I got to wear hot pink and show support for such an amazing cause, but I got to hang out with kids. Living in the city, I don't get to spend much time with kids and I had forgotten how insightful they are. Parker (Ava's little brother) and I talked about the airplanes flying overhead and how cool it was that we could hear them before we could see them because of all the fog in the sky. We explored an all too tempting weeping willow tree and agreed it should be in a Taylor Swift music video. I gave piggy back rides, talked about best friends in kindergarten, and got to pet the biggest dog Parker has ever seen, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Hanging out with two Kindergarteners and a third grader made me realize how precious life is at any stage in life and that there is no "too young" to start giving back. I'm so proud of my two youngest sister queens that show age is just a number. Even though I may be 19, spending the day with Kylie, Parker, and Ava reminded me it's okay to stop and explore, enjoy the little things of life, and support each other on what seems like a road that will never end. Because let's face it, all we really need to know we learned in Kindergarten.
Needless to say, the preparations for competing in pageants has taught me more than how to stand on stage and look pretty. It's taught me responsibility, self-discipline, finances, and provided an outlet for my creativity. Because of NAM, I feel I am better equipped to face the "real world" (which believe me, as a sophomore in college is pretty scary). I've been able to transfer my talents learned from NAM into real and applicable situations and I know that learning process will never cease.
Between all the craziness of recruitment, I was able to sneak away early on a Saturday morning to support an amazing and touching cause. The Hope & Hearts run is put on by the Missing Grace foundation which raises money to inform families on how to prevent stillbirths and support those families who have been through the loss of a child. It was so touching to see so many families and friends come together to celebrate and sometimes mourn for their children. There were prayer tents available if needed and a whole ceremony where balloons were released in that lost child's name. Kayla (teen) and I were able to help out with that part as we passed out balloons to the walkers once they were done with the 5k. Earlier in the day there was also a kids race where each little kid received a metal. So many of them wanted us to know about it! Kayla and I had so much fun talking to the kids that came up to us and the families at the run. We also ran into the Cambridge City Queens and got to hang out with them for a little bit too (which turned into a mini photoshoot, no big deal).
What a weekend! Going straight from a 5 day week of recruitment practice for my sorority, my mom and I hopped in the car and headed off to Wisconsin State Pageant. It took us a good 4 and a half hours to get up there (but only 3 to get back...hmmm?) Being visiting royalty is one of my favorite experiences of being a state queen. Knowing little girls can't get close enough or talk enough to you while the older girls look up to you and follow your example reminds me of what an honor it is to be a NAM queen. It takes a lot of effort and energy, but when you have Jr. Pre Teens complimenting every aspect of your outfit or connecting with Teens while you learn how active they are in their high schools, it's totally worth it. I had 2 full days of helping out with registration, rehearsals, formal wear competitions, and final pageants.
As I've grown with National American Miss since 6th grade, I've expanded my "NAMily" aka my NAM family. When I attend pageants like Wisconsin, I get to see them all! This includes the staff who have been around for years or 2010 queens I met at Nationals and current queens who were at the Minnesota state pageant.
Along with queens from across the country, I had fun being glamorous onstage helping with final pageants. Who doesn't like presenting huge trophies and beautiful medals? I was also able to be in the production number dance to You Make Me Feel. It was a challenge because usually queens learn a similar dance at Nationals. I didn't learn it at Nationals or Minnesota so just like the contestants, this was my very first time learning and preforming the dance but I rocked it and had fun dancing my heart out.
And even queens and staff get a little goofy at times! Here are a few great shots during our down times.