Where do I begin? I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion as I say goodbye to one of the most amazing organizations that has molded me into the young woman I am today. Looking back at the past ten years of involvement with National American Miss, I see how far I’ve truly come. Walking onto the National American Miss stage at eleven years old, I was incredibly shy, unconfident, and had zero self-esteem. However, immediately after my first year of competing, I fell in love with NAM! But most importantly, I learned to fall in love with the person God made me, flaws, and all. Being involved with National American Miss made me into the person I am today. I realized how important community service, confidence, and the simple concept of being yourself is throughout everyday life. NAM helped me realize my love for public speaking, further inspiring me to pursue a career in international corporate law. I can’t think NAM enough for helping me become the best me I can be!
As a full-time Pre-Law major at Fisk University in Nashville, TN, I was faced with the task of balancing being a college student, preparing for Nationals, as well as setting aside enough time to fulfill my job as Miss Ohio! I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, the JDRF Walk for a Cure, as well as continuing my service with my fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, ‘Courtney’s Cans 4 Kids’. My favorite community service project involved volunteering for the Nashville Food Project; this involved preparing fresh and healthy food for the homeless and less fortunate throughout Nashville, Tennessee.
In November, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend my last Nationals ever! While it was a bittersweet realization that it would be my last time competing on the NAM stage, I had the time of my life! I met so many girls at Nationals whom had also been involved with NAM for many years; it was comforting knowing we were all going through the same bittersweet moment together! Although I did not walk away with the National title, I am happy with knowing I performed my absolute best! To my complete surprise I was blessed to walk away placing in the Top 5 for the National Photogenic, Actress, and Spokesmodel competitions! Nationals week was even better because I spent it cheering on my little sister, Carmyn, who competed for the first year at NAM! I couldn’t have been prouder of my little sis!
To all my sister queens: Gigi, Kylee, Megan, Olivia, and Kaylin, it has been amazing getting to share this year with you all! Although I was unable to do as many appearances with you all as I would’ve liked because of me going to college out-of-state, we still share a sisterhood that NAM has blessed us with; I am forever thankful for that. Though our time as sister queens is ending, I urge you to all continue to be the best you, you can be! You have already accomplished so much at a young age, I hope you continue to help and inspire hundreds of others. The crown and banner may go, but the job never ends. Keep shining your positive light and making a difference, I look forward to seeing the great things you will accomplish!
To my successor: Congratulations! Welcome to the sisterhood! You now have one of the greatest jobs being able to represent such a beautiful organization, as well as being an example to girls everywhere! Remember to cherish every moment of this next year, it will be over before you know it! Lastly, as hard as it is to believe, you are one of the older girls now! Remember to lead by example for all the younger NAM girls, especially your sister queens; trust me, they look up to you and are watching everything you do! Although this may be bittersweet knowing it is your last year competing with NAM, give it your all and don’t forget to live in the moment!
For the last time, I am your reigning National American Miss Ohio 2016, Courtney Warren!