Thursday, August 30, 2012

Becoming Miss Kenosha: A Guest Blog Post

It's been day three post-"the big move" and there has been a blur of commotion.  I'm filling out paperwork, going to appointments and meetings and by the time my head hits an ever so soft pillow and sheets, I feel like I'm getting up and doing it all over again.
The internet here is shoddy and because of that, I could not properly adjust my margins to my last guest blog post- for this I apologize profusely but the internet here is that bad.
We recently signed the lease to a house that is lovely but its previous owners basically did jack-squat to keep it in pristine condition.
Brittany and I spent the evening stocking up on things for the house, doing a pre-home inspection with very detailed (and probably negative) notes on the condition and quality of everything and then finally ran around to spray the carpets with water and white vinegar.  
I need to dedicate a full blog post to home repairs and cleaning tips- so that I will save for later.
Due to my level of exhaustion and probably a plethora of grammatical and spelling errors, it's not time to introduce one of my amazing best-friends, Becca.  She is currently Miss Kenosha and a fabulous one at that.

“I don’t think the whole ‘crown thing’ is for me…but thanks.” was my initial response to Laura Kaeppeler, who was not only my childhood friend but our Miss Wisconsin (and soon to be Miss America), when she asked me if I would ever be interested in competing in the Miss Kenosha Pageant. When talking to Laura that night in June 2011, she brought up valid points of why I should run in the pageant. I knew Laura was a down-to-Earth, hardworking, wonderful person but I still held a negative stereotype of a typical ‘pageant girl’ in my mind. Flattered, but not at all convinced to try and be the next Miss Kenosha, I left her house that warm summer night.

Throughout the following months, I followed Laura’s journey as Miss Wisconsin. The seed Laura planted back in June began to blossom with each time I would hear a story or see a Facebook post about all of the community service and platform-related appearances that Laura was doing. She was making such a noticeable, positive impact in our state. It was only then I realized the Miss America Organization was not about a sparkly crown or a fancy, expensive dress; rather, about giving strong women a voice and an outlet to be an advocate for education and their personal platform in their communities.

With the help of the Miss Kenosha directors and supporters, blessings from my family and friends and - of course - Laura’s inspiration, I decided to compete for the title of Miss Kenosha. Before I could say, “Miss America” the last week of January 2012 approached and day of the pageant had arrived!

My only goal going into the competition was to place so I could walk away that night with scholarship money to help finish the degree I am earning at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. I felt that I did all that I could to prepare for the competition. However, when they announced the 1st runner up, I put my head down, closed my eyes and thought ‘The judges either loved me or didn’t like me at all.” To my total surprise, not only did I place but I was the last one standing to be crowned Miss Kenosha 2012.

Being crowned as Miss Kenosha was an unforgettable moment! Between the lights, clapping, cheering, flowers, hugs, pictures and autographs, it was everything I could have wished for and more! But, being crowned Miss Kenosha and doing the job as Miss Kenosha are two different things. When the lights go down, the auditorium empties and you un-pin your sparkly crown from your head for the first time-it becomes real. Even though you are fully aware of the job requirements before the competition, it is only afterwards that you can truly grasp that you have the ammunition to serve your community in a way that you could not have done before.

As Miss Kenosha 2012, I have been given many opportunities to become involved with volunteering for organizations which, beyond doubt, make a difference in people’s lives and communities. From helping shave heads at the St. Baldrick's Foundation to speaking at the Walkin' In My Shoes Annual Gospel Concert, and introducing the honoraries and speaking on the behalf of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network at Kenosha's Relay for Life, I know I have gained more love and inspiration from the people I meet than I could ever give to them. My personal platform as Miss Kenosha is 'Pay It Forward-Spreading Random Acts of Kindness'. Kindness is contagious and I have been able to promote the simple lifestyle of helping - and not judging - others to over 2,500 people within my community. Children and adults alike have grasped onto the chain reaction/domino effect which can occur by just being kind to three different people each day. I believe the feeling of community and love within society is what we so desperately need in this age to create a sense of worth and compassion within people. I have started a Facebook ‘like’ page which posts inspirational quotes and ideas of random acts of kindness along with a non-profit fund which donates anonymously to those who need financial assistance within the Kenosha community through 'R.A.K.' bracelet sales. There are other kinds of appearances I have as Miss Kenosha such as TV interviews, being on radio talk shows and throwing out the opening pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers game. Even with the more relaxed appearances here and there, overall, Miss Kenosha is a job as a role model, not a super model.

My year as Miss Kenosha concludes in about 5 months and the search for the new Miss Kenosha contestants starts now! The Miss America Organization is based off of Service, Scholarship, Style and Success which is why our crowns all come to four points. So, to any young lady between the ages of 17-24 who is a full-time student in an accredited college/university or a graduate who wants to compete for a local title, go on to their state competition and who knows…maybe become our next Miss America, my advice would be to get in the mindset of representing an organization now. Reach out to your local Miss America Organization title holders/directors, become active in community organizations, begin building your personal platform and form strong opinions on current issues. Look for the dress last. Although your wardrobe and presentation is important, YOU are the one who will shine. The sparkle on your dress isn’t enough to win you the title – just like the sparkle of the Miss America crown isn't really what the job is all about.

Many thanks to Becca for guest blog post.  I can tell you now that whenever I see her, I always think she looks so put together and I want to steal all of her clothes but in all sincerity, she is doing amazing things as Miss Kenosha.  Our hometown has an awesome representative!

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