Wow. 100 days as Miss California. The past 100 days have been a whirlwind. A whirlwind full of priceless memories, unbeatable experiences and incredible people. Let me break down these 100 days for you, starting from July 2nd.
July 2nd, 2016 is when it all began. After a week of fun in Fresno with 48 women that all would serve as an exceptional Miss California, it all came down to one moment. The moment when I found myself as one of the final three contestants left on the William Saroyan Theatre stage, waiting to hear the judge’s selection of Miss California 2016. Then it happened, Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, announced me as the new Miss California. Immediately the feelings of shock and excitement rushed in and I knew that all of my hard work preparing for the competition had paid off and my seven-year journey in the Miss America Organization was coming full circle. With a new shiny accessory and $22,300 in scholarship money, which means no more student loan debt, I was (and still am) so grateful that the judges put their trust in me to represent the Miss California Organization for an entire year.
The day after the crowning, still running off of adrenaline, I immediately sat down to begin my paperwork, and essentially my preparation for Miss America. Next, I spent a few days in Northern California for the annual RWC 4th of July parade and celebration in Redwood City. Then I was on my way to Orange, California to relocate with my host family, the lovely Harris’. For eight weeks my days were action-packed, full of meetings with our Miss California sponsors, gathering essentials for Miss America, meeting new people, practicing my new talent routine, traveling and making appearances. One of the highlights of my prep was my family and friends “sending me off” to Miss America at my send-off party in my hometown, Santa Clara. In those eight weeks I took 10 flights, travelled over 22,000 miles, stayed in 5 hotel rooms and drove 4 different cars. It was exhilarating!
I was in pristine hands in my first weeks as Miss California. Patricia Murray, Russ Gladden, Donna Jones, Sherry Cain, Connie Oliver and the rest of the Miss California board of directors and leadership made sure I was more than 100% ready to take on my time in Atlantic City.
Not only did I have the support of the Miss California leadership, but I was also lucky to have the support of so many phenomenal sponsors! Core Arts Pilates worked me into tiptop shape for the Miss America stage. The Pink Door Salon made sure my hair looked like silk. Tamara’s Skin Care and DMK had my skin glowing like it never had before. Linda Ontiveros showered me with makeup to compliment the glowing skin Tamara gave me. Dale Carnegie Orange County gave me tips on how to communicate with diplomacy and tact. Haute Shot by Shana and Makeup by Maskara did a phenomenal job of capturing my Miss America headshot. BeachCandy Swimwear guaranteed my Miss America swimsuit fit just right. Eva Varro, Paige Denim, Lorna Jane and Liliana Footwear gifted me with the perfect pieces for my Miss California and Miss America wardrobe. Mia Bella Couture and Jovani created my stunning and ideal Miss America Evening Gown. Savinar Luggage and Brics USA provided me with a BEAUTIFUL 5-piece luggage set so I could travel to Atlantic City in style.
I am incredibly thankful and grateful for these businesses and their support of our organization.
The time had finally come. My bags were packed and I was off to Atlantic City for 14 days, where I would bond with 51 unbelievable women and compete for the job of a lifetime. We toured Atlantic City, embraced the humidity, rehearsed for hours at a time, slept in unusual places, filmed in a hurricane, danced to no music, ate too much dessert, formed sister-like friendships, laughed at everything and competed in this thing called Miss America. I am so grateful to have placed in the Top 10 out of what started as 8,000 women across the country. But, most importantly, I am grateful for $7,000 toward my higher education, the experience only very few people get to have and for the friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Along this 100-day journey, I met some of the most impressive, accomplished, caring, giving and selfless people. My absolute favorites out of the bunch were the children. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and share #BuildingAHealthyFuture with nearly 3,000 children at schools, daycares, boys & girls clubs, children’s hospitals, appearances and youth programs.
One of the many reasons why I wanted to serve as Miss California was to share my story and message with the youth and see their faces light up when they see the sparkly “hat” I sport. These are my favorite moments.
Being Miss California, I feel like I am Miss America! I have been able to travel our country and our diverse state in the last couple of months. Some of my travels have included Washington D.C., New York, Orlando, Atlantic City, Northern California, Southern California, Fresno a couple of times and my latest adventure in Blythe! It is my goal as Miss California to travel to as many cities in California as possible and meet as many people as I can. We Californians are lucky and extremely fortunate to live in a state that has so much to offer, including a unique, diverse population of people.
The night I was crowned Miss California, I stated in my speech at the gala that I will live my year by my personal philosophy: Value the present. Live free of tension, full of love, happiness and laughter. Be a lifelong learner, Embody dedication and uniqueness. Create.
For 100 days I have reminded myself of this philosophy and have embraced every day with these words and will continue to do so.
Throughout every venture in my life I have always strived to #BeExtraordinary. No matter what you are doing, where you are going or who you are with, I believe that you should always have the goal to be extraordinary. My mission as Miss California 2016 is to share this with California. This is what I want my legacy to be.
The YEAR AHEAD
It has only been 100 days, but I have already made memories that I will cherish forever and accomplished so many things that I wanted to accomplish as Miss California. My year doesn’t stop here. I will continue to travel our state and country, meet as many people as possible, advocate a healthy future for our youth, share the Miss America Organization and strive to be an extraordinary Miss California. I cannot wait for the rest of the year ahead of me. Adventures are coming! Stay tuned!
Miss California 2016
You can book Jessa for an appearance by visiting our Book Miss California page.