Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Big Post Miss America Blog




Here it is: the BIG After Miss America blogpost. As you all can imagine, I've been hiding under a rock since I got home on the 14th and sleeping most hours of the day. I am exhausted in every way shape and form, some which I didn't even know were possible. I'm completely dog tired physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, so I apologize if I haven't returned calls/texts/etc, but I'm so tired, and tired of talking about Miss America that I just need time to zone out and recover. 

Am I tired of talking about Miss America because it wasn't AWESOME? No way. It was probably the best 10 days of my life so far, and I had a blast and I definitely met some new best friends. I'm just tired of repeating the same things over and over to everyone I run into. So, here's the run-down of Miss America 2013.

I arrived on the 3rd eager and nervous to find out who I would be rooming with. I had been praying for a few girls in particular who I had gotten close with in Orlando at MAOT, and whenever asked, I would say the same few girls, Wyoming, Alabama, Montana, because I felt like we bonded in August. When I checked in and they told me Lexie Madden, Miss Wyoming was my roommate, I actually started jumping around in my 4 inch heels and yelling "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" Obviously I was pretty stoked to spend my Miss America experience with her. We had a ball, listening to Mackelmore in the mornings and bonding over our mutual love of Joel Osteen at night. She kept me motivated when I was a little down and we shared so many laughs, prayers, jokes, and stories. It still breaks my heart that she's not my "roomz" anymore, but we will definitely be meeting up ASAP. Beyond Lexie, the other girls were equally awesome. Miss Alabama constantly kept us laughing and always had something positive to say about everyone. She literally lights up every room she walks into. Miss Nebraska was definitely the class clown, and her "Girl on Fire" dance is definitely burned into my memory. I shared a lot of laughs with Miss Virgin Islands, and I will definitely be visiting for Carnival someday, and Miss Alaska is one of the most genuinely sweet women I've ever met. Miss Arkansas, our Miss Congeniality had the most contagious spirit of anyone I've ever met. She is such a strong, spiritual, and positive person, that being around her makes you want to be a better person. I loved spending time with "Little Sloane" because she is the type of person that this world needs more of. Miss Florida, thank you for sharing in immature jokes with me, you rock. Miss Massachusetts is probably one of the nicest and funniest girls I've ever met, and she kept me laughing the whole time! If y'all haven't noticed, Miss Montana and I got really close during our time out there, and I have to tell you guys, she is my role model. She is my hero and my inspiration. Alexis is the only woman with autism to grace the Miss America stage, and she has absolutely no idea how beautiful, funny, or awesome she is, or how many lives she has already changed, and will continue to change. She certainly made a lasting impression on me, and I can't wait to see her change the world. Honestly if I had time and energy to write something about every single girl I competed with, I would. I had the time of my life hanging out with all of you, from rehearsals to performances, and just all of the in between time. Each one of you have your own special place in my heart, and I am so happy to have 52 new sisters.

To answer some questions: 
No, not every girl was a "Miss Congeniality," but I have to say I got along with everyone. I don't think there is a single girl who I'm not looking forward to reunited with in the future, and I think everyone there made our class special and unique. 

Mallory Hytes Hagan is AWESOME. Can I repeat, SHE IS FLIPPIN AWESOME! Mallory is one of the coolest girls I have ever met, I know cool isn't a very eloquent word, but she is just so cool without even trying. She is modern, fresh, independent, and assertive, and I think she will do wonderful things for the Miss America Organization, and be a great representative of our class. She is funny, real, down-to-earth, and super honest. I am so proud to call her our Miss America, and I can't wait to see the incredible things she will accomplish this year!

Yes, Miss Wyoming is always that beautiful. She wakes up and looks like a Victoria's Secret Angel, (sickening, I know.)

I qualified for the Quality of Life award, I was one of seven finalists. The QOL award is one given by Miss America each year to a woman who is dedicated to community service, especially her platform. Miss Alabama won the QOL for her work with P.A.W.S. for Autism, and she is incredibly deserving. Anna Laura is a wonderful embodiment of how this organization is about so much more than beauty. She is beautiful, incredibly talented, and devoted to her platform and community service. You go girl!

I was awarded the Non-Finalist Interview Award, which is given to the contestant who had the best interview score and did not make the semi-finals. I can't tell you how excited I was to win this. Interview is my thing. I won an interview award at AJM nationals, and I have been working tirelessly on interview with my board since I was crowned Miss Delaware. There is only 1 NF Interview award given out, and it is announced at the reception after Miss America is crowned. I was already extremely proud of my performance at Miss America, and my placement in QOL, so being announced NF Interview winner was just the icing on the cake for me. When it was announced, I was so excited I can't even tell you what I did. I think it was a combination of yelling "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" at Marc Angeli, while fist pumping, laughing, then crying. This means my interview will be featured on the OFFICIAL MISS AMERICA INTERVIEW DVD that people buy for preparations (yeah, no big deal)  and that next to my name in the program book, it'll say NF Interview next year, which is super cool if you ask me. So yeah, to sum it up, I'm extremely thrilled with my performance and the way Miss America played out. I think that any of the women in the Top 5 would have been beautiful Miss Americas, and I could not have hand picked 5 more accomplished and wonderful women to be standing at the end. 

I also have to make a quick aside to talk about Miss Montana one more time. The fact that Alexis was able to compete in the top 16 at Miss America speaks volumes about this organization. Growing up with autism isn't easy, and autism rates are growing every day. To see a beautiful, accomplished, and eloquent 18-year old with autism take the Miss America stage has already changed so many lives. This organization is about showing young women that we CAN achieve anything, if we really go for it and put ourselves out there. I hope that anyone who is struggling right now with confidence, self-worth, or any kind of hardship can look at Alexis as a lesson and a role model. Growing up was not easy for her. She told me she has been called so many nasty names, including the "R" word, and look at her now. She has been featured on CNN, FOX, ABC, and all over the internet, spreading her message of perseverance, hard work, and dedication. Thank you for being such a good role model to our country, and for inspiring everyone you meet, even though you have no idea the effect you have. I love you like crazy and I'm so honored to call you one of my friends.

Obviously, no sour grapes here. I didn't go into this with an all-or-nothing mentality so I think I walked away gaining a lot more that many women do. I know I have a few new bridesmaids someday, and girls who will be my best friends for years to come. Am I disappointed that I didn't make semi-finals? Of course I am. We all want that recognition. We all work so hard to go and be competitive, but sometimes things don't work out the way we hope they do. Would I change anything about my experience? No. I made my own choices, and I performed everything to the best of my ability. Also, to everyone telling me  "You should have made top 16," "you should have won," etc, I appreciate your support, I truly do, but that's not true. God has a plan all along, he knows the who, how, and why of it all, and obviously His plan didn't include that for me. It's only in God's plan for one woman to be Miss America every year. He knows who is ready for the job of Miss America, and who can use that platform to better herself, her country, and the MAO: That girl is Mallory Hagan. I am 100% confident that she will be a shining example of this organization, and bring it to new heights. I am thankful that His plan led me to Las Vegas to make 52 friends and live out every girl's wildest dreams. I am thankful He is giving me 6 more months of service in the great state of Delaware, and I am thankful to be returning to school and normal life next August. This experience has changed my life, and I'd just like to thank everyone who played a role in making this possible, it certainly takes a village to raise Miss Delaware, and I can't imagine doing this alone.


XOXO
Still your Miss Delaware,
Alyssa

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Here We Go

I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed. I have sat down to write this blog about 14 times and I keep coming up short. There aren't sufficient words to explain whats going on inside my head and heart right now, but I'm going to do my best.

When I began competing 2 years ago, I knew Miss America was my ultimate goal. It's easy to say "I want to be Miss America" when you're younger, but as I've grown older and closer to that dream I've come to realize there's a lot more to it than what everyone sees on TV. I knew that being Miss Delaware would give me the opportunity to make an impact, but it wasn't until a month or so into my year that I realized just how much of a difference I would be able to make. In the past 6 months I have been more exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally than I have ever been before, I've had strep throat, and a stomach bug, and I've really grown to appreciate a good night's sleep. Sometimes its the little moments I share with a child on an appearance that gets me through. From my experience competing for Miss Delaware, I know how exhausting pageant week can be; 17-18 hour days full of rehearsal, bonding with the other women, appearances, and trying to stay on top of a workout regimen. The next 10 days will be the busiest, most rewarding, and life-changing days of my whole life, and I know it's going to take some coffee and Emergen-C to get through them. 

I'll also be relying heavily on the people I love the most, my family and friends, to keep me motivated, as well as memories from the appearances I have made thus far. Here's just a brief list of the special moments I've had since June.


  • Visiting the Stockley Center, Howard T. Ennis, AI DuPont Children's Hospital, and a few other facilities with the Delaware State Police before Christmas
  • Surprising my Miss DE "little sister," Audrey, at her 5th birthday party
  • Hearing my little sister say she wants to be Miss Delaware 2024
  • Speaking with Anna Maria Farrow and Moving for Melanoma at Middletown High School
  • Visiting the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where I met Isha, a young girl in the oncology ward who says that she wants to be a "real princess" one day just like me
  • Being in the Thanksgiving Parade in Philadelphia with Miss America, Miss New Jersey, and Miss Pennsylvania
  • Watching Morgan Burris represent Delaware at Miss America's Outstanding Teen in Orlando, FL
  • Meeting Vice President Joe Biden at Return's Day
  • Speaking at Carver Academy and Lord Baltimore Elementary with Character Counts
  • Attending KSI's Christmas party where I am told I was a bigger hit than Santa Claus
It'll be memories from these appearances that remind me why exactly I am headed to Las Vegas, and why I've devoted 2 years of my life to this cause: Seeing Isha's face light up when she saw my crown, and her happy tears when she tried it on, Audrey running at me and leaping into my arms with only one bowling shoe on, my sister telling me she wants to follow in my footsteps, handing out teddy bears with Santa to children who would be spending Christmas in the hospital, Stacia and Katie trying on my sash at Howard T. Ennis, Lady Ava Rae, my Miss Delaware "sister" stealing her mom's phone to call me just to chat, and telling the judges at her pageant that Miss Delaware 2012 is her role model and she wants to grow up to be just like her, and knowing in general how happy I've been able to make some very special people this year.

There are some very special people who have made this year so incredible, and I want to send a quick thank you to:

  • My family, for sticking by me during these crazy, hectic, and overwhelming 6 months. I love you all so much, and I hope I make you proud!
  • My friends, thanks for being so supportive and understanding when I have to cancel on plans for other engagements, or from just being plain ole' dog tired.
  • Debbie and Ronnie at the Bridal Suite in Johnstown, PA for my gorgeous competition gown.
  • My Miss DE Board, who I don't know what I would do without.
  • Paul Timmons, the best personal trainer in the World, and one of my biggest fans. Thanks for believing in me, and helping me reach my goals.
  • Jamie Ginn, Miss DE 2006 for choreographing the most perfect dance routine, and teaching me how to be sassy in swimsuit, and for being my friend and big sister.
  • Robert and Julie Collins from Pinnacle Photography, for always helping me feel beautiful.
  • Sal Cutrona and Gloria from Michael Christopher Salon, for keeping me fabulous.
  • The other Miss America contestants, for already making this year so memorable, and in advance for the lifelong friendships I'll be making.
  • Chris Saltalamacchio, for ALWAYS being there to lend me an ear or a shoulder to cry on.
  • AZD sisters across the nation for their support, as well as the University of Delaware, UD Greek Life, and Adam Cantley, for helping me get some People's Choice Votes
  • All of the former Miss Delawares, especially Maria Cahill, for being such wonderful big sisters, and for all of their wisdom and love.

I'm not sure what God has in store for me in Las Vegas, but I know that it will be a positive experience, and whatever happens is all in His plan for me. Sometimes His plan hasn't been what I've expected. I never intended to take a year off of college to serve my state as Miss Delaware, I didn't intend on ever owning sky high heels, butt glue, or more cans of hairspray than I have room for, but He did, and the path He has lead me on has been incredible. Lately, I feel like everything has been going my way, and I know that whatever happens, I will be at peace with the results. My prayer for Miss America is that I will be able to use all of the skills and qualities that God has blessed me with to show the judges what I already know, that I CAN be Miss America. I pray that He guides me throughout my time in Vegas, and allows me to let the judges and audience see who I am, goofiness, awkwardness, and all. I cannot wait to share everything I've been working so hard for with everyone! I won't let you down, Delaware! Alrighty, enough sappiness. VEGAS HERE I COME, along with my Batman footie pajamas...



XOXO
Alyssa

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