Miss America is far more than the pageant you see on TV, it is a national program that impacts more than just the 53 girls lucky enough to represent their state each you. If you were to add up all of the community service hours and people impacted by Miss America, 53 state title holders, 100's of local title holders, and the 1000's of local contestant who might never even make it to the state level - that alone should answer both of those questions for anyone. These young women are more than just a pretty face wearing a crown - they are successful, educated, volunteers and role models to people of all ages.
I am sure the skeptics that have read to the part are saying "That is a nice canned answer" and/or "And you are qualified to to make that assessment because???" Well, I am a product of the Miss America Program and because of it I am not only the woman I am today, but my career is where it is today. Because of my volunteer work on my platform I was invited and served as one of two youth members for a Untied Way Realignment Task Force at 16 years old. At 17 years old I was invited to present at a state wide conference for volunteer service and leadership. Because of the relationships and partnerships I built through working my platform as a local teen and miss title holder I was able to secure my first non profit career position before I ever graduated college. These are just a few of the highlights of what I gained as a part of the program. And I never won a state title, the closest I ever got was 4th Runner Up my last year at Miss Teen Texas.
All of the things I took away from my participation in the Miss America program are what led my husband, Kipper, and I to decide to become local directors, so that I could help give back and allow other young women the opportunity that I had. While we are taking a break as directors to focus on growing our little family, we still very much love our Miss Texas family. Through my time as contestant and as a director I have formed life long friendships that I treasure more than you know. Many of my dearest friends (and pretty family!) are because of the Miss America program. Some I met when I was only 14, others not till I was an adult but I treasure them all.
As I watch the pageant tonight, I know that years of hard work and dreams have lead those 53 young women to this moment. And while only one of them will have the experience of being crowned the 91st Miss America, all of them are truly remarkable young woman and should be proud of what they have accomplished.
And of course a special shout out to our very own Miss Texas, Kendall Morris!! It has been wonderful watching her grow up through this program as a local teen, state teen, local miss and now a state miss titleholder! I know God has many big things in store for her!