Wow – I can’t believe it’s finally time for me to say goodbye to not only the Miss Florida title but also to National American Miss. My pageant journey started 8 years ago when I got a letter in the mail saying that someone recommended me for this pageant I had never heard of. In fact, I really had never heard of pageants before in my life, but I am so glad I gave it a try! I competed for the National American Miss Florida Junior Teen title that first year….and I didn’t win. It took me three state pageants to place in the top 5, but it felt amazing. Seven years went by, I continued competing and never quit, and I finally won! This past year has been amazing, from visiting Disneyland and making some amazing friends to the dance rehearsals where I learned that I absolutely couldn’t dance, I’ve loved every minute. Nationals is the best experience you could have and saying goodbye to the sister queens I had gotten so close to that week was one of the hardest parts.
I’ve volunteered countless hours with Dress For Success with my crown by my side, which has truly allowed me to show women how important it is to feel beautiful in your own skin and that you can conquer anything.
To the girls competing tonight, it’s important to remember that anything you want in life takes dedication. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t win or place in the top 5, I’ve been there, and it’s important to remember that you are beautiful, strong, caring and the crown is just the icing on the cake. You’ve put in so much work to be here, and you deserve to feel so incredibly proud.
I’ve grown monumentally throughout my journey with National American Miss. I’ve learned that I LOVE to talk for hours, how to present myself with poise and dignity and most importantly never to quit. Any of this wouldn’t have been possible without my friends and family. Alison and Leslie, thanks for making Nationals so amazing. To my best friends Emma and Julia, you always seem to have the right answer to anything, thank you for being the best wing women I could ask for. Courtlyn, I’m so glad I’ve met you; I couldn’t imagine experiencing pageants without you. You are an amazing person and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the National All American title. Miss Chamanda, thank you for seeing something in me and polishing that diamond in the rough. You’ve helped me grow on and off the stage, and you’re right there to tell me when I need to take a chill pill. Thank you for becoming part of my family. Thank you Mom and Dad for driving hours to find that perfect dress, get that extra mac n cheese before pageant finales and listening to me practice for interview and intro to no end. You’ve let me grow and experience something wonderful, and I couldn’t thank you enough for letting me compete 8 years ago, I love you.