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The (almost) 3 week check-in…

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Hi Everyone!

It’s the first blog of my year and I could not be more excited to touch base on how everything is going! But before I start with any of it, I just want to take a second to say the biggest, most heartfelt and appreciative “THANK YOU” to each and every one of you who have supported me in this journey. I firmly believe that we, as titleholders, are able to go out on stage, into the community, and promote the program and ourselves via social media because of the strong foundation of love built by our own personal “cheering sections.” It is because of you that we are smarter, more confident, less stressed, and prepared for any situation that may come our way. It is because of you, friends, family, sponsors, sister titleholders, ED’s, boyfriends, and advisors, that I am sitting here today – in the midst of Miss America preparations. And for those of you who have been wondering… no, it still does not even seem real! But my goodness, I have never felt so blessed.

My prep will continue throughout the next two months, so I figure I have some time to write about that later on down the road. Instead, I thought I could start things off by introducing myself to those of you who I have not yet had the chance to meet, or have not quite built a relationship with. It is with so much pride and respect to the immense responsibility of representing this entire state that it seems logical to give you a glimpse into my world – the life of the girl who you will (hopefully) be supporting throughout the year! But where do we even start?! Well to begin, yes, my name is just Bree! Not Breanna, not Breanne. I still thank my parents for making learning to spell my name a “breeze.” (Get it!?)

Bree Family

Bailey, my mom, and me before a dance recital – And yes, you’re correct – I may not have always been blonde! :)

I was born and raised in Orange County, CA – mostly Garden Grove where I attended public school from K-12. I think my family knew I was destined for the stage at a young age as they could hardly contain my dancing feet in the grocery store, makeshift Wynonna performances in the garage, and the combined antics of my sister and me. Oh yes, I have an older sister! Her name is Bailey and she is one of the most incredible educators I have ever met. And she’s an even better sister, if you can believe that. As children our parents encouraged us to try out different sports and activities including softball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, swimming, ice skating, and even a bit of pageantry in Bailey’s case. Unfortunately for me, the ball-related sports were never my strong suit (we just watched a home video where I literally stood with my arms folded as the soccer ball rolled past). Dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics were more up my alley. I continued to dance from age 4 to about 12 when my love for competitive cheerleading took hold. Over the years, I began to climb up the rankings, ultimately ending up on a small senior coed level 5 team, and ended up doing quite well at the Worlds Cheerleading Competition in Orlando, Florida. 149644_1490450696697_6807344_nI was recognized by the Golden State Spirit Association as the “Cheerleader of the Year,” and was even featured in a cheerleading publication or two! In those years of competing, I learned first hand the immense power of sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, hard work, and humility.

I always LOVED school. Growing up near Disneyland, there were a few special days a year that my mom would surprise us by pulling us out of a non-busy day of school and treating us to a day of Disney. Unlike most children, however, I was often walking to the office upset that I would be missing out on the day’s lesson. (If only she would have done this in college!) I became involved in school leadership at a young age, joining the student council in 4th grade and continuing throughout high school. 37265_1357854581877_5869987_nI attended Pacifica High School in West Garden Grove (the same school as Miss CA 2012, Leah – some of our teachers think they specialize in breeding Miss Californias now!) where I was a varsity cheerleader all four, incredible years. Homecoming float building, applying for colleges, school dances, and many summer camps for ASB and cheer later, I had the time of my life and left feeling prepared for the next chapter in my life – college!

Bree Delta Gamma

Me and my – Gamma Chi, Long Beach State – Delta Gamma sisters!

“Go Beach!” quickly turned into my motto, and still is when suggesting where local students should apply to school. I loved every bit of it. From all of my business classes, to the beautiful campus, to the Greek life I experienced, and the wonderful people I met. I came in as a freshman, ambitions set on being a marketing major, and ended up getting much more than what I asked for. I became a Delta Gamma soon after – a decision that still warms my heart to this day. In so many ways, being a part of a sorority, especially when involved in leadership, is very similar to being a titleholder in the Miss America Organization. You are not just expected to uphold the ideals set forth by the organization and the accomplished women before you, but you relish in the opportunity to do so. Nothing brought me more pride than leaving the sorority after my presidency, knowing that my sisters would be left with the chapter in a better place than I found it. Graduation rolled around and once again I left, proud of what I had accomplished, but so undoubtedly excited for what was to come in the future.

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The marketing team’s Halloween costume, 2014. Little did we know that “Napoleon” would be bringing his tots to Miss America!

Surprise! A 9 to 5. Work is what came next. I had worked at the same office throughout college, but as graduation approached, persuaded our leadership to open a position for me in the marketing department – my ideal job! For about a year and a half I worked as a communications coordinator at an architecture firm and could not even begin to explain the value of my experience in doing so. I learned so many important lessons about collaboration, Microsoft Excel, that yelling at Microsoft Excel will not make it cooperate, and about the “real world” in general. However, the most important lesson I learned was more broad – that my happiness is more valuable than the dollar. Prior to competing at Miss California, I made a difficult decision. One that had manifested itself over months of struggling with the idea of where I saw myself as a working professional. At the end of the day, I want to be a servant to the public good. Where I was, albeit amongst an amazing group of coworkers, I would leave feeling unfulfilled; that my work was not contributing the “good” to society that I had wished. So after a year and a half, I quit. (Read my blog about it, HERE!)

Yet, for those of you who know me – I am a planner! I almost always have a contingency plan, and in this case one was already in the works. I had applied to be a substitute teacher in a local school district where my mom and sister are also employed and was hired on the spot. In the weeks leading up to Miss California, I began subbing in classes ranging anywhere from Kindergarten to 12th grade – and I LOVED it! There is something so fun about being able to go into the classroom, and although it might be a bit unruly, helping students of various ages understand concepts. To quench them of their thirst for knowledge, whether they realize the need for it, or not. And let’s face it, the kids are hilarious. Of the many classes I had the opportunity to sub, there was never a dull day. There were also plenty of airborne illnesses, and a strep-throat scare the week prior to Miss California – but it was ALL worth it!

Bree Family pic

The Morse Family Christmas Card! Me, Bailey, Mom (Debbie) and Dad (Dave).

So now I find myself here! Not quite in a cubicle, not quite in the classroom, not quite crying about being “forced” to go to Disneyland, but in a place that I could not be more content to be in. So many of the experiences I have been afforded in my life had led me exactly to where I am now – and for those opportunities, and for the individuals who made it all possible, I am so thankful. (A special thanks to you: mom, dad, and Bailey!)

Alright, well if you labored through this essay, thank you! And I hope that you know me a bit more now! I cannot wait to get out and meet each and every one of you when the opportunity presents itself. Until then, follow along with me in the journey to Miss America, and in my year as Miss California!

All the best,
Bree

{Keep up with Bree online at @MissCAOrg and on her profile HERE}

Show Some Love on Valentine’s Day

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Before I get into the real reason for this blog, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for stopping by our page! My name is Bree Morse and in January I was fortunate enough to be crowned Miss Orange Coast 2015. I’m excited for the year that lies ahead of me and to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you (you can follow me on Instagram at @missorangecoast)!

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching, and whether or not you have that “special someone,” there is probably a part of you screaming “Great. What do I do now?” Most likely, there’s also part of you hoping that an admirer will send you a special delivery of a 5lb box of See’s Candy. At least I’m guilty of both of these thoughts. In all actuality, Valentine’s Day was not always associated with secret admirers, flying babies with a bow and arrow, and excessive amounts of confectionery hearts. Originally a religious holiday, it wasn’t until the 1300’s that the holiday became associated with romance. In the 1840’s, along came mass produced Valentine’s Day cards that would soon establish February 14th as a prominent consumer holiday. I can’t imagine that they had the One Direction valentines at that time, but the tradition of letting someone know that you care about them has carried on ever since.

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

Don’t forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

For as long as I can remember, Valentine’s Day has been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every February 14th my sister and I would wake up even earlier just to have our mom French braid a heart into the back of our heads as we wrote out valentines to our classmates (One year I had Lisa Frank cards with matching pencils. At that point I thought for sure my life was made). After leaving the house with the perfect hair-do, it was off to school to pass out your notes of admiration then to see what you received in return. There was nothing better than the feeling of untying the yarn holding closed your craft-time mailbox to see kindness and compassion of your peers spill out onto your desk (the candy and pencils weren’t bad, either).

To this day, I cannot overstate the importance of making the holiday special for those you care about. My mom doesn’t French braid my hair in the mornings, but on that day I still find every single heart-adorned accessory and clothing item that I own to show my love for Valentine’s Day. So this year, regardless if you’ll be going to a fancy dinner with your Valentine or if your special someone is your cat (let’s face it, my cat Stanley is quite a catch), challenge yourself to go out of your way to let someone know that you care about them. It’s a kind gesture as simple as telling someone they look nice, that they made you smile the other day, or even giving them that prized Lisa Frank pencil. Although the 5 lb box of candy will definitely not be turned down, it’s the essence of Valentine’s Day that makes it so special – to love, and be loved. Who could pass that opportunity up?!

All my best,
Bree Morse
Miss Orange Coast