Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Miss America Experience

WOW. Did we really just get home from Miss America?  Did that really just happen?  When I think back to the day that I was reunited with the Class of 2018 at the Philadelphia airport, I feel like it was two months ago.  What a crazy two weeks it has been!

Just moments before I found out that I had the record breaking total of bags out of all Miss America contestants this year.  Who's surprised? EIGHT SUITCASES! Oh my goodness.
(shorts: Steamroller Blues, top: BEIGE Little Rock)

The Miss America Experience is just that – an experience.  I don’t have one single bad thing to say about my experience as a whole; it was that wonderful! I’ll never forget the moment that the stage was opened and we were allowed to practice in Boardwalk Hall for the first time.  I had never attended the Miss America pageant, so all I knew to expect of that room was what I’d seen on TV.  I walked into the hall for our first official rehearsal and started bawling.  WHAT?! Crying? I’m serious.  I’ll never forget that feeling.  It’s so overwhelming when your dreams come to fruition.  That was a MOMENT, let me tell ya.

A few more of my favorite moments (there were too many to count):

Sherri Hill dress from Buffie's All the Rage; H/MU Jane White, Lauren Colclasure
I have to say that talent night was high on my list of favorite moments.  I had prayed all day that I would have the confidence to sing my heart out.  It’s such a vulnerable moment when you get out on that stage and sing.  The dress, the sound system, the lights, the people, the camera, the time you spent preparing for that moment, and knowing who all you represent…  I knew it would probably be the biggest and best stage I ever got to perform on, so I wanted to make it count.  After singing my guts out, I walked off stage and (again) shed quite a few tears.  That was another MOMENT that I will never forget.  Nothing feels better than knowing you gave it everything you had! I felt like it was my best performance ever.  I was so thankful and overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness in that moment.

Cape: Shelley Kelley, Shoe: Brandon King
After the Show Us Your Shoes parade, we had a police escort back to Boardwalk Hall.  At the end of the parade before our escort, the police officer asked me to move into the back seat and buckle up (because I had been riding parade style).  At that time, two police officers escorted our convertible (my driver, Mrs. June Felix, and me) back to Boardwalk Hall and it was the 5 minutes of fame that I’ll never forget.  I felt like the President.  My cape was blowing in the wind (haha!) and everyone was turning to look and see who was driving by… we sped straight through the traffic lights and when we missed our turn they shut down the whole block so that we could turn around.  Seriously, that was so cool.  The parade in itself was by far my favorite part of the whole experience.

Miss Louisiana, Laryssa, was a good friend of mine and our class caught onto attempting her talent in our everyday speech.  I can’t tell you how many times I fell to the ground laughing during an attempt to say something with only a smile on my face.  Ventriloquism is not easy, y’all!

Which leads me to how amazing the Class of 2018 is/was.  I have never met such empowered, kind, intelligent women in my life! I was more and more encouraged by them as the days passed.  I know that it’s just the start of a lifelong friendship full of inside jokes, memories, and laughter.  There are already plans in the works for when we will get together again!  If I had to do it all again just to meet those friends, I totally would.  I still can’t believe I have the privilege of knowing them; I’m very blessed by them!

Top and Earrings: Tulips Little Rock

"A" top: Steamroller Blues

Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota, was before me in each phase of competition, providing me the perfect opportunity to get to know her and see who she truly is.  Let me assure you, our new Miss America is kind, pure-hearted, genuine, and as SWEET as they come! She is smart, bold, driven, and humble, and she will do an outstanding job this year.  I am so EXCITED to support her!

I want to thank the Miss America Organization (MAO) volunteers who took such wonderful care of us while we were there.  We were well protected, fed, encouraged, and respected every minute of every day in Atlantic City.  I admire those volunteers for their dedication to the program!

Because I feel like an era has come to an end - an era of pageant prep and performance – I have to say “thank you.” Bear with me.

Mom and Dad, I could cry every time I think about how lucky I am to be your daughter.  I never would’ve had this experience without you. Thank you for bringing me so much coffee, driving when I’m too tired, carrying dresses, crying with me, praying with me, laughing with me, being persistent with me, guiding me, and providing me with opportunities I never imagined possible. Thank you, most importantly, for teaching me how to put the Lord first and for exemplifying that to me in your daily lives for all of these years.  I LOVE YOU MORE THAN I CAN EVEN EXPLAIN!!!!!

Mere, Murray, Sarah: thanks for making the immediate family sacrifices that I know aren’t always easy.  Thanks for being there, supporting me, and letting Mom and Dad travel the state with me! I am so blessed to have your patience, love, and support throughout the craziness of pageant life! I’ll never be able to repay you for the sacrifices you’ve made!

Monk, Nene, Mimi (& Pop), thank you for instilling big dreams, faith, and a servant’s heart into each member of our family.  I would not be who I am without your life lessons as a foundation.

Fonda Mann, thank you for teaching me how to sing, instilling confidence in me, and letting me confide in you.  Thank you for believing in me from the start and seeing potential in a little girl who had no idea what was deep inside of her heart. 

Elton Ford, thank you for pushing me, making me run one more hill even if it made me cry, thank you for the countless phone calls, sacrifices you made, and Powerades that you purchased.  I am strong mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, because of your amazing coaching skills.

Maegan Waldrip, thank you for being there from day 1.  Thank you for the late nights, the pep talks, and for being there when it was Broccoli season AND ice cream season.  I wouldn’t have made it to Miss America without you.  I could never thank you enough for your time, friendship, energy, love and support.  I am so proud to call you my friend.

Dress: Buffie's All the Rage

To my dear friends, thank you for listening for the past five years as I ranted about pageant life, even when you didn’t understand.  You have been there every step of the way, and without you there to scream from the crowd, I wouldn’t ever have pushed myself to this point.  I am so undeserving of your friendships.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Lauren Colclasure, what would my hair be without you? What would I be without you? You give the best pep talks, and I wouldn’t have made it without you on my side.  Thank you for being really good at hair, but thank you even more for being a dear friend.   I love you!

Jane White, thank you for investing in my life and many of my family members over the years.  There is none like you when it comes to the art of makeup! How are you so good at what you do?! Thank you for giving, giving, and more giving to our organization.  Appreciate you!

Dr. Cooper, thank you for providing me with a beautiful new smile.  There is nothing that instills confidence more than a pretty smile.  I appreciate you more than you know! Miss Arkansas loves you!

Ms. Dianna Caldwell, thank you for meeting with me to make sure that my talent was polished and ready for the Miss America stage.  You are a PRO!

Dennis Harris, thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and coaching.  Not only are you amazing at hair and makeup, but you are a jack of all trades and I’m lucky to be in your circle!

Dr. Branman and Leslie, thank you for your friendship and service as I prepped for Miss America.  I wouldn’t have been ready to go without the amazing products, facials, lunch dates, and encouragement.

Thank you, Susan Garner, at Rebekah Lane Formal Wear, for meeting me on a Sunday afternoon and donating some adorable wardrobe pieces for Miss America.  I got so many compliments on your look!

Dress: Rebekah Lane Formal Wear

Thank you, Chotsi and the Advanced Aesthetics team, for making sure my skin was in great shape before I arrived in Atlantic City.  Y’all are so good at what you do! Can’t wait for the year ahead!

Oak Forest Cleaners is the best of the best – kind, quick, and just plain GOOD at what they do! Thank you, OFC, for your sponsorship.  Heaven knows I would’ve had way too many wrinkles in my outfits at Miss A if it weren’t for you all!

Jovani from Buffie's All the Rage

Buffie, thank you for your generous sponsorship of my Miss America wardrobe.  I adored the looks that we ended up with, and even though it took some time, we really did come up with the perfect pieces! You made my wardrobe dreams come to life! I want you to know how much I appreciate you, your girls are the store, and your expertise! You’re amazing.

Jovani from Buffie's All the Rage

Thank you, Ann Marie Gibbs, at Fine Lines Personal Training, for taking time out of your everyday life to meet me at the gym and make sure that my fitness was in check before Miss America.  I wouldn’t have been swimsuit ready without you! I loved getting to know you and your family and know it’s just the start of a great partnership for this year!  You’re the best.

Kandice Pelletier Swimwear from Applause Little Rock

The Skin Bar in Bryant played a huge role in making sure that I was ready for AC, as well.  The ladies there are so good at what they do – go give them a visit!  From Cryotherapy to facials and lash extensions, they are pros!!

Thank you, Rusty and Lori Hart, for making the trip to Miss America to love on me and my family throughout the Miss America experience.  Thank you for your sponsorship of some of the most beautiful wardrobe pieces I’ve ever been able to wear! Your service to Miss Arkansas is appreciated more than you know.  I can’t wait for the rest of the year together!
Mr. Rusty and Mrs. Lori! Love this fringe cocktail number from Applause Little Rock

Thank you to every one of the Miss Arkansas Board and Foundation Board members, as well as the Miss America prep committee.  You all took the time to help me get ready for Atlantic City and/or made the trip to see me at Miss America, and I can’t tell you how special it was for me to have your support.  Jessie, Renee, Lacy, Dennis, Fred, June, John, Sarah, Leo, Thomas, Amanda, Danielle, Kristen, Sarah Collins, Ned, Vicki, CJ, Baxter, Rick, Melinda, Peggy Jones, and I hope and pray that I’m not missing anyone!! Without you all, we wouldn’t be “The Miss Arkansas Organization” and I wouldn’t have been ready for Atlantic City.  What would I do without you?!

Thank you, Shelley Kelley, for fitting my clothes perfectly, and providing the most amazing parade coat for the Show Us Your Shoes parade. You are amazing and your work is exquisite.  Brandon King, you are TOO good at what you do – the art for my shoes was unreal! THANK YOU!

Sherri Hill Couture from Buffie's All the Rage

To everyone who made the trip from Arkansas (or across the country) to see me in Atlantic City, I can’t thank you enough.  You don’t know how much it filled my heart to look out in the crowd and see those flashing Arkansas signs.  Knowing that you were there made it all worth it – even if I didn’t get to spend time with you the way I would’ve liked to!

Garrett's big debut... he's always wanted to be on the blog! (Dress: Johnathan Kayne from Buffie's All the Rage)

Dress: Applause Little Rock

Thank you, Renee Stone, at Emerge in Conway for your sponsorship and friendship.  I loved the pieces we chose for Miss America and can’t wait to wear them again sometime soon!

Thank you, Kattie Hansen, for providing my beautiful Miss America headshots!

To every person who sent mail, Facebook messages, direct messages, and texts: I’m so sorry if I wasn’t able to answer, but know that I read it/received it and your encouragement meant the WORLD!

Day before yesterday I went to bed at 4:00p.m. and slept until 8:30a.m. the next morning, oops! It feels great to rest up and get to planning for my year as Miss Arkansas.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to get off of that plane and get in the car with the windows rolled down, country music blaring – HOME! I missed the Southern air so much.  Now the best begins! I am ecstatic to be home, unpack, and start planning the many ways that I will be the best Miss Arkansas I can be.  Lots of plans in the works, and I’ll be sure to keep you all updated!  Big hopes, dreams, and prayers for the rest of this year. I love you all so dearly.

Maggie B.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Two Weeks of Wonder - The Diaries

Hi friends!  I am so excited to post my first blog as Miss Arkansas.  I figured that the completion of my first two weeks on the job was reason enough to share the details with all of you. I’ve always wondered what being Miss Arkansas really looked like on-the-daily, so I’ve mapped it out for all of you the best that I possibly could.  These first two weeks were unique, in that I was doing a media tour and preparing my Miss America paperwork.  Now, things will settle down just a little as I begin to consistently prepare for the Miss America pageant and travel the state to make appearances!

Buckle up because the first two weeks were CRAZY and amazing and full of lots of goodness. Here we go!

June 17, 2017
I’ll take you back to Saturday afternoon before finals.   I went to my room before we were heading to finals and got to spend some time in prayer and on the phone with my director.  …I mean it when I say that I have never felt so much peace in one moment.  I didn't know I was going to win, but I knew in that moment that what God had for me next was going to be GOOD, and there was a lot of comfort in that.  That moment was the perfect second wind for what was ahead.  

That night, they called the Top 10 and I was so excited to have the chance to perform the phases of competition again. 

 Walking on stage with Dad was the most special moment ever. 

 Once they called the Top Five, it all went very quickly. When they announced the final result, I couldn't move.  I had to remind myself how to walk and remind myself how to wave my hand.  There were emotions of a dream five-years-hoped-for all in one moment. 
I only remember what I did in those few moments because of the video.  I was completely stunned….. Gold confetti.  80th anniversary.  All the family, so many friends…  God is great.  How did I ever ever ever ever EVER question His timing?
So they called my name.  I shook my head "no" in disbelief for about thirty minutes, first through the interview on LIVE KATV and then through the first round of photos on stage.  
It’s funny because as I reflect now on that night, my favorite part was looking out into the crowd of people standing on stage when initial photos were happening.  It was all of my people in one huge puddle around me, and JOY flooded my soul as I looked out and saw the crying faces of the people who got me there.  Favorite part -- so weird I know!
Then immediately my new Executive Director, Jessie Ward Bennett (she's amazing) swept me backstage with body guard (woah) to go have a live interview in the pressroom.  
I remember so vividly each step that I took and each person that I saw from this point forward.  I was soaking it all up like a sponge!  Next we went to the VIP room and I was announced as Miss Arkansas.  I was greeted at the door by my princess Asher Ray screaming “MAGGIE, MAGGIE, MAGGIE,!”  and she escorted me to the red carpet and the Miss Arkansas photo backdrop. I stood in that spot for two hours and took pictures.  Everyone kept offering water, and maybe I was sweating but y’all, I could've done it for FORTY HOURS BECAUSE I LOVED IT THAT MUCH. I got to hug so many necks! I signed my first autograph, and met some amazing sponsors.  Once it was time to leave the party, it still wasn't real at all.  

My good friend that I competed with, Jade Collins, came to my room and lay in bed with my mom and me while we watched the crowning video and I ate a spoonful of peanut butter.  I finally realized what happened…kind of. I face timed two of my best friends and then turned my phone off without even checking it so that I could sleep before the next big day. (That was Miss Arkansas 2015 Loren McDaniel’s greatest advice to me! Sleep that night!) 

June 18, 2017
I slept a solid four and a half hours, woke up and wrote in my journal, then headed to get my hair and makeup done by my faves, Jane White and Lauren Colclasure.  

For my first meeting, I wore the white suit that I've been saving for five years in hopes of wearing it on my first day as Miss Arkansas.  I’d purchased it for my competition interview outfit when I was 18, but ended up wearing something different.  I have always loved it regardless, so that was really happy when I got to wake up and put it on.
I signed my contract, met with the wonderful Miss America Prep Committee, and then met with the Miss Arkansas Board of Directors.  Next I went outside to take a picture with my new car sponsored by Bale Chevrolet, then I started on headshots for official portraits that will hang in the Arkansas Capitol and the Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to Mr. Jerry Davis for the amazing portraits! 

Next, I got in the car and did a phone interview with the AR Democrat Gazette for about thirty minutes.   I met with two of my chaperones to start talking logistics ... I took notes frantically like the write-everything-down girl that I am!  For lunch I ate a burger that my local director, Maegan Waldrip, brought me from the Capitol Hotel…FRIES AND DIET COKE.  My heart was so happy, oh my gosh!

After that I went out to the Robinson Center steps to do my first television story with KTHV 11.

Once everything on the agenda was complete, I got all of my things organized and did a load of laundry, watched little parts of the pageant with my sister, and regrouped.  For dinner, I went to eat with my chaperone Mrs. Mary Glover, and her daughter Kristen Glover Belew (Miss Arkansas 2011) and her husband Barrett, and Barrett's Mom, Suzy Belew, who was another one of my chaperones during pageant week.  It was so great and I got lots of good advice from Kristen.  I also ate some cheese dip and my tummy was happy.

I came home and stayed up for a few hours to put a dent in text messages and lots of other notifications. It was so wonderful getting to read things online from family, friends, and others who were so supportive even though I didn’t know them.
*Disclaimer:  I think there are two kinds of people in this world … those who do red bubbles on their home screen, and those who don’t.  I don’t do red bubbles (notifications) on my home screen, so this has been a major challenge!

It still hadn’t sunk in when I started reading those text messages because I had been going and doing everything I needed to do that first day.  Once I started answering those messages on Sunday night I started to realize - oh my gosh - Miss Arkansas? Eeeeep!!!

June 19, 2017
The alarm was set for 4:00a.m. with four fun TV interviews back to back until 7:30a.m.  I have learned that I love TV interviews!  The interviews have been one of my favorite parts of these past two weeks, for sure. For each interview, I would change outfits, and thank goodness for Mrs. Mary Glover because I don’t think I could have pulled it off without her! She would drop me off at the door, I'd sprint in, change, do the interview, head back to the car, repeat.  Sounds crazy but SO MUCH FUN OH MY LANDS!  

After that, we visited a few of the wonderful sponsors of Miss Arkansas.  At Bale Chevrolet, the sweetest man – Mr. Joe, escorted me to my new car. We took some pictures and worked through some logistics.

Next we went to Applause, a Little Rock dress shop, and picked up cocktail dresses that I could take to Miss Tennessee that upcoming weekend.  I so enjoyed all of the glam and trying on the different dresses.  Thanks to  Mr. Rusty Hart and Mrs. Lori Hart!

After that, we headed to see Dr. Rhys Branman.  I walked in to the clinic and he escorted me down the hall to an amazing hydrafacial with Krystal.  He was singing "There She Is”.  He’s the best! 
That night Mrs. Mary Glover and I grabbed some sushi and then I made some phone calls about Miss America prep and other fun upcoming things before I turned in for the night.

June 20, 2017
I was up at 5:00 a.m. then on air with radio station The Buzz at 6:30a.m.  We talked sports, family, George Strait ... so fun!  I loved every minute of it.  I gave my brother, “Bubba,” a shout-out because The Buzz is his absolute favorite.  After that, I interviewed on Power92, B98.5, and KARN.  On Power92 we did some Motown trivia and I loved that, too.  
After all radio visits, we went to visit our lovely jewelry sponsor, Jones and Son, and I had the opportunity to choose a beautiful Henri Daussi band to keep in honor of my year as Miss Arkansas! I picked the yellow gold with diamonds.  So that was super special! Thank you, Jacob Jones!

You wouldn't even believe how nice and giving people have been!

I ran across the street to visit another sponsor, Buffie’s All the Rage.  Buffie Mayo wasn’t there, but I got a photo and headed back to see her a few days later. Love her and all of the ladies at her shop! After that we visited Tulips of Little Rock, Steamroller Blues, Ethereal Nails and Spa, Advanced Aesthetics, Arkansas Aesthetics, and Applause again to take gifts and take pictures.  Kind of a random, fun note: since my platform is about giving, every time I'm in town, I'll go visit sponsors and take them a gift - a bag of pecans.  Why pecans?  My grandpa, Pop, taught me to make homemade pecan pie, and my great-grandpa on the other side of my family, was known for traveling around with bags of pecans in his trunk to give as gifts to people when he'd see them or meet them.  I just thought it was a special union of both sides of my family and a good sentimental small gift.  So we went and bought candied pecans, poured them in cellophane bags, wrapped them with a little bow, and delivered them to some sponsors.  If you know me, you know I loved that little detail of the day.

After all of that, we ran by the Chamber of Commerce to see the Miss Arkansas Business Office and meet some of the wonderful employees there.  
That night, I went to dinner with my new chaperone and the business manager, Mrs. Leo Bryant, and her daughter, Sara Bryant. We took the rest of the evening to get organized, answer emails, and work on some scheduling.

June 21, 2017
I was up again at 4:00am to head to KTHV Channel 11 for a TV interview.  It went great and I really enjoyed all of the people there.  I visited a few more amazing sponsors before heading to film a segment with one of my Diamond State Princesses, Asher Ray.  If you don’t know Asher’s story, she is SO inspiring.  She was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer when she was three-years-old and she is a fighter, let me tell ya! For more details, check out her Facebook page here:

She didn’t know that I was coming to be in the segment.  She thought it was simply another interview about her journey battling cancer.  Well, I surprised her in the middle of the interview and had so much fun doing it! I love that girl so much.  Here’s a link to the story:

I had that afternoon off which was so nice! I took an hour nap, and then went to eat dinner with my sister.  After we got home, I face timed my friend Bonnie, worked on setting up some more social media, and went to bed at midnight.

June 22, 2017
I slept until 8:30… so amazing!  After I got up,  I finished laundry, and got my bag packed for Miss Tennessee. Before I left town, I went to grab a shake at the Nutrition Hub with my roommate from Miss AR 2013, Brittney, then headed to Russellville to meet with our amazing smile sponsor, Dr. Michael Cooper.  Dr. Cooper is the COOLEST – I had so much fun meeting him and his staff!

After Russellville, I drove back to Little Rock to pick up a Miss Arkansas Board member, Dennis Horn.  If you know Dennis, you love him.  Dennis and I BASICALLY DROVE THROUGH A HURRICANE to get to Jonesboro where I met my brother and sister-in-law, my director Maegan Waldrip, and best friend Hannah at home for about 20 minutes.  Mae brought lots and lots of supplies to leave in my trunk since I'll be spending a lot of time in my car. I ran upstairs and packed up ALL of the dresses that I could ever possibly want to wear on TV so that I would have more things for NWA media tour.  Then right before I left, HANNAH ASKED ME TO BE A BRIDESMAID!!!  She is my best friend since I was three years old.  I was so excited! 
After twenty minutes in Jonesboro, Dennis and I drove to Blytheville.  We made it to Blytheville at about 10 p.m. and a Blytheville local pageant director, Abby Whitener, was there with our dinner (thanks Abby!). Some of the staff had stayed up late to "Meet Miss Arkansas" so that was really fun! We ate and I played with Abby's baby, Worth Whitener, and then went to my room and went to bed.   

June 23, 2017
 I got to sleep until 9:30! After I woke, I had breakfast at Perkins in Blytheville.   It’s a long time favorite – I used to eat there when I held my first title, Miss Lights of the Delta in 2013.  It was so great, and Dennis and I sat there for about three hours doing Miss America paperwork and drinking coffee.  

At about 2:00p.m. we left for Jackson, TN.  On the drive there, I was on the phone with some awesome volunteers working through different parts of the job.   Even then I was still adjusting, but loving every second.  

Once we arrived in Jackson, we got ready for the final preliminary night of the Miss Tennessee Pageant and attended the pageant at 8:00.  The show was amazing and I met so many wonderful people!  After the pageant, Dennis, Robin Houseworth, and I headed to Denny’s for a late night snack.

June 24, 2017
I got to sleep late, then went to lunch at this ah-maze-ing Mexican restaurant, ran a few errands, and I did some more paperwork.  

After that I took a nap, then I made us protein shakes for dinner, and we went to watch the crowning!  Caty Davis was crowned Miss Tennessee and it was magical!  She seems so, so amazing, and I'm excited to room with her at Miss America Orientation! After it was over, Robin, Dennis, and I went to the VIP room and met the Miss Tennessee Board, Caty's family, and a few other folks.  It was really neat to hear her speak to them in that intimate setting after the pageant! We got a picture together and then I left after she finished her remarks.  IHOP after because that's just what you do after watching a pageant, right?! :) 

June 25, 2017
Got an early start, went to Starbucks, and hit the road.   I dropped Robin off in Blytheville, and drove with Dennis to Little Rock; then dropped Dennis off and headed to my first appearance. 

Pulled up and parked out front, where Mallory, the event coordinator, came and met me.  She explained that it would be an event where the Make-A-Wish kids and their families would simply be celebrating the fact that they had all had wishes granted over the past few years. She said I'd need to mingle, take photos, and speak on my platform for about five minutes.  Got it! 
We went inside and I started at the photo booth.  Parents would bring their kids over to take pictures and I enjoyed that so much because it was the perfect way to meet everyone before going into the actual event.  Those kids immediately humbled me.  What a PERFECT WAY to have my first appearance -- I love nothing more than a good opportunity to hang out with Make-A-Wish kids.  You can't believe how amazing they are.  I traveled around the room, spoke with families, did art projects with the kids, spoke on my platform and how it related to Make-A-Wish and then I went home about three and a half hours later.  It was so moving.  I could go into detail but it would be too much.  Just wow…it was very humbling. 

After that I ran to Buffie's store and picked up clothes for my photo shoot the next morning.  Buffie is so good at what she does!   I left Buffie’s, and my friend Michaela came over to see me.  (Love you, Mikay!)

June 26, 2017
First thing Monday morning I got up and worked on some paperwork.  Got ready, and went to my first photoshoot with Kattie Hansen. You can’t even IMAGINE how excited I was to have her take my official pictures for Miss America! She did my hair and makeup, and picked three outfits for my photos.  We listened to music and played around with some different styles.  It was perfect. 
Once we got everything that was on the list of pictures that we needed, I left there and headed to grab lunch.  I got Zoe’s to-go and went to Dr. Branman’s to eat lunch with him and Leslie Harmon just for fun!

When I left there, I went home and repacked, then swung by Bale to get my car checked before another big road trip.  Once I was in the clear, I hit the road for NWA for media tour NWA style.  Once I got to Fayetteville, I visited some friends and we grilled out. It was perfect.   I went from there to Aunt Tracee's to move in for a few days.  

June 27, 2017
I was up bright and early the next morning at 4:00a.m. to get ready for my first Fayetteville TV interview that would be at 5:40 a.m. –KNWA.  KNWA went well and I so enjoyed my first experience back in Fayetteville.  It was my first time there since I graduated in May!

After I finished at KNWA I had an hour before my FOX24 interview, which would be in the same building, so I went downstairs and ate some Waffle House breakfast (missed you Dad) and drank my coffee and answered some things on my phone before changing and going back upstairs.  Side note: I wish I had a number count on how many outfits I’ve worn since crowning.  To be honest, I love it SO MUCH! 

The FOX24 interview was SO fun that they let me do a weather segment in front of the green screen, then I did my own one-on-one interview, and after that I went on their little pop-culture segment.  Thanks FOX24 for a great morning!!

Up next, I had two live Radio Interviews through phone calls to the Jonesboro Radio Group.  That was super special because I grew up doing different interviews on Jonesboro Radio Group for different events in my hometown.  

After that, I took a 45 minute nap, then woke up and had a phone interview with the Jonesboro Sun newspaper.  Lunch was my favorite protein shake from Clubhaus (the Derek Special if you were wondering) before I drove to Bentonville to meet more sponsors.  Then I met with the generous sponsors at Swanky Lash and Shop Label, a clothing sponsor, before I drove back to Fayetteville.   I pulled into town and went straight to campus to meet with 40/29 in front of Old Main to film a TV segment.  Immediately after, I met with a student for the Arkansas Traveler interview.  That felt so weird because just a few months ago I was interviewing with the Traveler in my Student Government office at the Union Building.  It’s wild how much has changed in two short months! 

Once I left there, I went to meet the girls at Shop Maude and pick out some adorable outfits for the next day’s photo-shoots.  

That night I had takeout with my mom, who was finally back in Arkansas after being away for a week to celebrate her 30th anniversary with Dad!

June 28, 2017
Once again I was up at 4:00 a.m. to get ready for TV at 5:45am at KFSM.  I loved meeting the anchor, Alex. She is my age, so we had a ton of fun!  We had two live segments, and she is a former pageant girl herself, so it was fun exploring all of the details with her.

Left there and went to Arsagas for breakfast with Mom – our favorite!

After breakfast, I went to Old Main Lawn for my photo-shoot with the Arkansas Alumni magazine.  I adored every second of it!  I also got a photo with Miss Arkansas 1999, Brandy Cox, who is the Director of the Arkansas Alumni Association, and my former boss when I was an intern there.  After the shoot, we went to the alumni house to interview for the article that goes with the photos, and then I caught the beginning of their staff meeting where they gave me a Life Membership to the Alumni Association! SO excited about that!!!!

From the Alumni House, we went straight to iHeartMedia radio group, and did three different radio segments.  The people there were pros.   I so enjoyed talking with them and seeing them do the amazing work that they do for their community!
After I left there, I got a smoothie, went straight to NWA Democrat Gazette.  This photo-shoot was the definition of “Giving Is a Gift” because it involved all of my favorite things, including balloons and confetti.  I was soooooo happy! I interviewed with Ms. Becca for the article as soon as we finished taking pictures.  
After that, we went straight to Citiscapes Magazine in Fayetteville.  The ladies there were so hospitable, oh my goodness!  I enjoyed some coffee and interviewed for the article, then drove to the Chi Omega house and took the pictures that would go along with it.  That one was special because I got to see some Chi-O friends and got to visit the house that I lived in last year!
Immediately after, we drove to Bentonville to shop at Shop Label one more time. I wanted my Mom to see all of their adorable clothes. They fixed me up with some great things to wear over the next couple of months.
I left Bentonville and drove to Joplin, Missouri so that we were halfway to our next destination.  

June 29, 2017
We got up early the next morning and drove to Kansas City.  My vocal coach for Miss America, Mr. Bill Wolfe, is there and we had a super successful two-hour lesson.  
After that, we grabbed lunch at my fave KC restaurant - Gram & Dun.  Left KC and drove to Rogers to regroup.  From there we headed to Little Rock. On the way to Little Rock, I stopped in Conway to meet a Miss Arkansas Board member, Lacy Glover, and got my key to the Miss Arkansas apartment! She showed me around -- it is ADORABLE!

June 30, 2017
I got up, did laundry, repacked, got organized, finished paperwork, got dressed up, and headed to the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. There I met with some board members and Miss America Prep Committee members at 1:00 p.m. to finalize my Miss America paperwork and put it in the mail!  I took photos, signed autographs, and picked up all of my newly-printed thank you notes. Thank you, Wheeler Printing and Kelley Bales!

Once that was taken care of, I went to Izzy's for a late lunch with my sister.  We love that place.   I went home, finished laundry and packing, drove to Conway and unloaded some more things in the apartment.  After finishing all of that up, I drove to Heber Springs to spend my holiday weekend at the lake with my family.
Thank you for following along with my first two weeks.  It is impossible to express how thankful I am for each and every one of these experiences.  I know that the Lord has huge things in store for the year ahead, and I can’t WAIT to see what He does!

Love you, Arkansas!!!  So blessed by you.