By: Nikki Holbrook, Miss Sacramento County 2017
By: Miss San Diego 2017, Molly Crawford
I am Francess Carpenter, the current titleholder of Miss Merced County. I just wanted to let you all know that I am super excited to meet you all! I’m also a tad bit nervous because I’m very new to pageants in general. I have always known about how great the Miss America Organization is, but I never thought I would ever get involved. It wasn’t until my english teacher had recommended me to run for Miss Merced County, that I really got to thinking.
As I learned more and more about the organization, I realized I wanted to become more involved. Winning my title not only made me happy as can be, but I see that it has given me another opportunity to do even more good in my community. It had also given me a great chance to implement my platform which deals with RhoGAM awareness. I am just so pumped. This program has allowed me to grow so much as a person as well!
Who would have known that such an experience could boost one’s confidence so much. I definitely still have so much more to learn, but I am so excited. I also get to meet you amazing people in a few months and I couldn’t be happier! ❤
Have a nice day!
Miss Merced County 2017
By: Miss Yosemite Valley 2017, Jillian Smith
Stop everything you are doing and think about what makes you the person you are. What if I told you that one day you may not recall who you are, your most cherished memories and you may even forget the ones you love. Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic that impacts more that 5 million Americans a year. In your lifetime it is highly likely for you or someone you know to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Back in 2001 my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Watching my grandfather struggle as his disease became progressively worse was one of the hardest things I've ever seen my family go through. Not only was it hard on him it was especially difficult on my grandma, who remained his main caretaker during his fight. I had never realized how this disease could impact a whole family until it happened to ours. Watching my dad slowly lose his father was absolutely heart breaking. I have heard many times that Alzheimer’s is “just what happens when you get older”, I beg to differ. No one should have to watch their loved one suffer to remember who they are. I will forever cherish the memories we keep alive whenever we remember him.
During the past 7 years of being involved in the Alzheimer's association I have heard countless stories about loved ones who have suffered through this terrible disease. The reason I have dedicated a large portion of my time to bringing awareness to this horrible disease is not just for my grandfather, but for all of the families who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. During the Miss Sierra Nevada scholarship program I dedicated the talent portion of competition to all families who have experienced a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. For me the Miss America Organization gave me another outlet to show my passion for Alzheimer's awareness and gave me a platform to education more people. Irradiating Alzheimer's from this world is just one of the many things I hope to see during my lifetime.
What you can do
Share your story! The more you talk about something, the more you find out what you have common with other people. Talking about your situation or your family’s situation can help both you and your loved ones cope with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Another way you can get involved is to participate in The Longest Day. June 21st, the summer solstice, is longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. How to get involved: First register on alz.org, then pick an activity that you love or that your loved one who has Alzheimer's enjoys. Then get a group together to participate and raise awareness.
Lastly you can join me and many others by participating in your local Alzheimers Awareness Walk to End Alzheimers. Go to alz.org to enter your zip code to find the walk that is closest to you. Then you can create a team to walk with millions who walk every year to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.
Always remember #MemoriesMatter!
Miss Sierra Nevada 2017
Keep up with my journey on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @MissSierraNevada
By: Sabina Chaudhuri, Miss Silicon Valley 2017
By: Tori Votino, Miss Santa Clara 2017
It is no secret that Miss America contestants pride themselves on being the “best of the best” among the young women of this nation. As a young lady who has grown up in this program, I never cease to be blown away by the remarkable women that share my same dream. Ostensibly, it may appear that the women who participate in this program are “perfect;” competitors are talented, fit, accomplished, and beautiful. Yet, what people cannot see are the real life disappointments these girls experience. I am no exception to encountering failure and self-defeat. It is in my triumphs that I reflect on the importance of overcoming these obstacles.
As many of you will come to know, playing piano has become an integral part of my identity. However, when I was little, becoming a pianist was down at the bottom of my “what I want to be when I grow up” list. Clay Aiken, the first runner up of season 2 on American Idol, sparked my passion for singing. Despite my readiness to grab a microphone to belt my voice out at family weddings and make-believe concerts, my mother became incredibly quick to tell me, “Natalie, you can’t sing. God did not bless you with a pretty voice.” (A little disclaimer: thank you to my mom who has provided me with nothing but honesty and wisdom. I am truly grateful to have a parent who does not feel the need to sugarcoat my weaknesses). At such a young age, her words only ignited a fire in my belly to prove her wrong. Over the course of the next 5-6 years, I auditioned to sing the national anthem for two major sporting teams in my home town. I never received one call back. It was when I was 12 that I truly discovered singing was not meant for me. Each year of my childhood, I entered a talent show to showcase another year of piano lessons under my belt. About four weeks prior to the show, I broke my hand playing Marco-Polo on a trampoline by tumbling off the edge and landing in a cactus. (What’s even more pathetic is I was not the one with my eyes closed). No longer able to perform at the piano due to my cast, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase my voice and prove my mom wrong. Then, to my utmost surprise, I lost. I was devastated. When I walked off stage in a state of despair, my mom showed me the video of my performance she secretly recorded. I was terrible. I could not even listen to my entire song without cringing. Following that experience, I became more determined than ever to become a great pianist.
While discovering I would never make it to the American Idol stage became the pitfall of my twelve-year-old self, it never occurred to me that many more of my dreams would be denied. For instance, I was named first-runner up two years in a row competing at the Outstanding Teen level, I lost the election to become my high school’s Student Body President, and despite years of tutoring and visiting with educational specialists, I could not get an ACT score that was considered high enough to get into the school of my dreams.
Preparing to take a standardized test was a particularly hard time in my life. I attended a private high school surrounded by brilliant students who could get a near perfect score on the ACT or the SAT without preparing or studying. Yet, here I was with a great resume, a respectable GPA, and one test score that could prevent me from attending my first choice school. My family hired a tutor for me, I took online courses, and I met with counselors to help relieve the stress I felt prior to taking these tests. Over the course of 9 months and three ACT tests, I only improved my overall score by 1 point, still far short of what I needed to have a good chance of being accepted into the university of my choice. I knew that this one weakness had the power to prevent me from achieving my dreams, so I worked every other angle I could to receive an acceptance letter. I arranged interviews, took a private tour of the school, spoke to members on the board, and wrote more ‘Thank You’ notes than I can remember to prove to this school I was more than a test-score. I remember waking up from a nap on my couch in March of 2015 to an email from Chapman University. I had been accepted and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship, the highest awarded scholarship Chapman grants. The school had given me a chance to prove myself as a student and as an achiever. My mom and I looked at each other and simply cried. I am hopeful I can continue to make my school proud.
So far you have read about some of my more poignant failures over the course of my life, and you may even be wondering what this has to do with Miss America. The answer? Everything. If I had not come to realize on my own that I could not sing, well, let’s say I would not have been awarded the title of Miss Orange Coast this year. Singing allowed me to see where my talents truly lied. And hey, at least I got my “American Idol moment” performing for a huge crowd in a fringe jumpsuit and a bedazzled hot pink arm cast. Additionally, if I had gotten a notable score on my ACT test, I would have lost the lesson of what it means to break stereotypes and persevere when the odds are stacked against me. I am a living testament that anything is possible so long as you work hard and believe in yourself (cheesy I know). As far as being named first runner-up twice at the ‘Teen’ level and now once at the ‘Miss’ level, I have learned that timing is everything. Sometimes you can do all the right things and say everything that needs to be said, and you still will not be selected. Sometimes, it is just another young lady’s time. I encourage any aspiring title holders that are reading this to keep going. Your time will come.
For my entire life, I have worked towards my dream of becoming Miss America. The truth is, I do not know if I will ever be Miss America. Shoot, I may never even make it to the Miss America stage, and that’s okay. If I have learned anything in my short lifetime it is this: You cannot plan for what the future will bring. Accepting that there is a plan much greater than your own is the first step in realizing failure is not only unavoidable, but necessary. I am not telling you to abandon your dreams, by all means take every advantage and opportunity you can to achieve them! But, what I am saying is that extraordinary people are only extraordinary because they are real people who rose above every rejection they faced and continue to face. I am not perfect. I do not want to be. I want to be Natalie, and that’s sufficient. That’s enough. As I journey on to compete for Miss California, I am hopeful that you can see a crown does not define my success nor does it for any of the other well deserving contestants. I am filled with excitement and humility knowing that I am exactly right where I am meant to be. I encourage all of you to go out, be fabulous, and catch your dreams!
-Miss Orange Coast 2017 Natalie Benson
Competing for Miss Marin for the second year in a row I didn't anticipate to win and I didn't know how busy the job of a titleholder would keep me. I work full time, am a full time student studying communications at Santa Rosa Junior College, have a passion for fitness and healthy eating. To put it simply: I'm busy, we all are! That's why balance is everything.
Here are a few lessons I have learned since my crowning that keep me from losing my head!
Your planner is your friend
Whether you like to write things out on a large monthly calendar or use different calendars on your smart phone, planning ahead is everything! When I go to the gym, work, school, appearances, meetings and even my bedtime are all written out. Not only does this keep me on track but it keeps me from over booking myself.
Do what you can early
I'll admit it: I used to procrastinate. Like, a lot. Why do it today what you can put it off until tomorrow? Because tomorrow is just as busy. So get stuff done ahead of time! To keep myself ahead of the game at school, I write due dates a week ahead of when they're actually due. To ensure I'm not going to be tempted by the In-N-Out drive- thru after a long day or when I'm in a rush, I meal prep to have delicious and healthy food ready to eat food in my fridge.
Have a good support system
Friends and family can help you out when you need it most. So surround yourself with people who want you to succeed and don't be afraid to ask for help!
Listen to your body
The most important thing you can do to keep your sanity when juggling all life has to throw at you is to listen to and respect your body. Exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep and take time every week to do what YOU enjoy. Read, write, paint, watch tv and do it unapologetically.
by: Rachel Lee, Miss Marin County 2017