I began my journey in the Miss America Organization six years ago as an introverted 17 year old. I decided I would give the Miss Kenosha pageant a shot as it would offer me scholarship assistance and another opportunity to do what I love which is singing. Little did I know the adventure I was about to embark on. After my first experience on a local stage, I realized it was time to discover myself.
Fast forward a few years and four more pageants, and my hard work and perseverance would finally pay off when I was crowned Miss Racine 2013. I was elated to serve the Racine community and promote my platform, “Share the Power of a Wish: Supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.” I was able to make great strides with my platform during my year of service. Most notably, I granted the wish of a 5 year-old girl with liver cancer to go to Walt Disney World. I also was able to compete at the Miss Wisconsin pageant that year and walked away with over $1,500 in scholarships.
I learned a lot about myself during my year as Miss Racine. I realized I have the power to make a difference in my community. I learned I have a voice and can positively influence others. Self-reflecting upon my experience, I knew I wanted another opportunity to serve as a local titleholder and compete at Miss Wisconsin. However, it would not be a walk in the park to achieve that. The year after I gave up my title, I competed in the Miss Kenosha and Miss Burlington Area ChocolateFest pageants and walked away empty handed.
In the midst of all this, my darkest nightmare came to life when my mother was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer, in September 2014. She passed away only three weeks after her initial diagnosis. My mother told me before her passing to never give up on my dreams. She was my loudest cheerleader and best friend. I will forever miss her beautiful smile and infectious laugh.
After my mother’s passing, I was unsure of what my next step was. Did I want to continue my journey in the Miss America Organization? How was I supposed to continue this journey without my mom by my side? Knowing of my experiences as Miss Racine, I really believed I would be able to make a difference in other people’s lives by sharing my story. Therefore, I decided I would give the Miss Kenosha crown another shot, and I ended up placing second runner-up. Looking back, I realized it was for the best that I was not crowned Miss Kenosha that year. I was not ready to share my story, and quite frankly, it would have done more harm than good for me. I needed time to grieve and to heal.
I decided I would take a year off from my involvement in the Miss America Organization. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in May 2015 and began graduate school a few months later at Concordia University-Wisconsin. I started my career in the Kenosha Unified School District as an education support professional. Also, I was given the opportunity to start coaching the Tremper High School Dance Team.
In the fall, I came to the realization that it was my last year of eligibility in the Miss America Organization. I asked myself if I was ready to share my story. Knowing of the progress I have made in my personal and professional life, I realized I was more than ready. With a new platform (which I will write about in a later blog), I decided to compete in the Miss Southern Lakes and Miss Kenosha pageants this year. I was completely shocked to hear my name called as the new Miss Southern Lakes . I look forward to sharing my message and hopefully inspire others to receive the support they need during difficult times. If it was not for my supportive family, friends, and community, I do not believe I would be where I am today. I am grateful to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.