Hello, again fourpoints readers!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you that take the time to read my blog posts. I think the amount of support within the Miss America Organization is great, and I am so thrilled to be involved with it!
Last week’s blog post was centered on my platform, Joining Forces. I had also mentioned that I was preparing for Miss Washington, my own state pageant. And for this week’s posting, I figured I would talk about just that: the Miss Washington pageant!
In 2009, I competed and won Miss Spokane’s Outstanding Teen, going on to Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen, where I placed third runner-up, received the Preliminary Talent Award, People’s Choice Award, and Spokesmodel Award. Growing up an avid softball and basketball player, it was hard to believe that I was bitten by the pageant bug! I went on a three-year hiatus to gain some life experience, then I grabbed my heels, gown, and (this time!) swimsuit and grabbed the title of Miss Inland Empire for a one-way ticket to the Miss Washington stage.
And now it’s here: the moment I’ve been preparing so hard for these past few months. I would be absolutely lying to you if I didn’t say that I was a little bit nervous; but this is a great thing! My background in sports and theater have taught me to channel these nerves and throw them, wholeheartedly, into the pageant. I think the one thing I am the most excited for is the opportunity to talk about my platform at the state level: in front of judges from across the nation. I couldn’t have asked for a better stage to get the word out about Joining Forces! Although I’m nervous and excited, I know it will be the week of a lifetime, thanks to all of the hard work of the volunteers and Executive Directors, Peggy Miller and Patti Belik at Miss Washington. I’m grateful I’m not alone: I now have a list of twenty-one fabulous young women to call my sisters! Thanks for being such great friends, and I wish nothing but the best for all of us!
In the midst of exercising, talent rehearsals, walking rehearsals, and overall preparations for Miss Washington, I’ve also been preparing for the wonderful photo shoot opportunity I received this month, thanks to all of you! I cannot tell you how excited I am for this; my mom and I always travel together during the summer to embark on new adventures (American Idol, The Voice, The X-Factor). Our trips have taken us to more than fifteen different cities, and Detroit is one we have never been to; we’re glad we can add it to the list! It’s going to be so cool to work with the fourpoints photographer and have my hair and makeup done—I am SO ready to see the amazing ideas the people at fourpoints have come up with for the cover! I know I’ll LOVE IT!
In closing, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts thus far. I can’t wait for the issue to come out in August so you can really get to know me a little more! I am so blessed and so grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, friends, and the Miss Washington and Miss America Organizations! As I prepare myself for Miss Washington next week, keep me in your hearts and keep those fingers crossed! Thanks for reading—now go and enjoy the rest of your day!
Hello fourpoints readers!
Sorry I missed you last week—I’m gearing up for my own state pageant (Miss Washington) taking place July 6-7. Keep your fingers crossed!
For this week’s blog, I'd like to share a little bit more about my platform.
Joining Forces: Taking Action to Serve America’s Military Families is a national initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, and one that I fully support. My dedication to our nation’s military and their families began when I was Miss Spokane’s Outstanding Teen 2009. At a military luncheon in conjunction with our Armed Forces Torchlight Parade, I had the privilege of dining with military spouses, service members, and their children. Listening to their compelling stories of how they get through deployments and how difficult it can be for them made me realize something: no one fully understands that when these servicemen and women go to war, their families go with them. One percent of Americans may be fighting for our freedoms, but we need one hundred percent of Americans supporting them and their families back home.
I really do believe that my platform chose me. I have no personal ties to the military—no parents, siblings, or close relatives currently serving. I just have an extremely big heart for men and women in uniform and for all they have done for me. When I sat at that table with those military families, I was answering the call to give my support and provide opportunities to them that they have earned—and I expect nothing less of other citizens of this nation.
My platform is about patriotism: loving the men and women who continually fight everyday so that we can go to bed knowing that we are free and safe. By mobilizing all sectors of society to “Join Forces” and provide support to service members’ families, we can put them at ease knowing that their children, spouses, and other relatives are well taken care of back home.
Joining Forces is the reason why I compete within the Miss America Organization. I have heard it said that with my title I have a crown-shaped megaphone—this crown and this sash command attention, and when I wear them, I know people will listen. And to show that I am truly dedicated to this effort of Joining Forces, try this one on for size: I willingly put myself at the heart of the intense physical training our nation’s brilliant Army Officers receive. Three times a week, I am property of Gonzaga University’s Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion—one of the top ROTC programs in the nation. Forming up at 0550 and ending at 0700, I am pushed to my limit during each session: and I expect nothing else. Upon joining the program, I stressed to Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Jacobsen and Captain Kathryn Shaw that I did not want them to go easy on me—they were to grade me as they would the other cadets. If I didn’t pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), then I shouldn’t get an A. But by the end of the year, I can officially say I am Army Strong—I passed! I very much look forward to my continued participation with the battalion—Bulldogs, lead the way! HOOAH!
I could go on for hours about my platform and why I love it so much—and this is exactly the way that every contestant within this organization should feel about her own platform. Lending support to our troops and their families has not come without hardships: recently, our battalion said goodbye to one of our own, 1LT Mat Fazzari. There have been stories from veterans and military spouses that have made my heart ache and tears fall. But with each hardship, the fire only burns hotter—the need to “Join Forces” for our troops and their families is something that everyone within this nation should feel compelled to do. As a titleholder within the Miss America Organization, it is something that I vow to do, and will continually do for the rest of my life.
Photo: Cameron Glass Photography
Last night in Muskegon, thirty-one of Michigan's beautiful and talented young women gathered to perform their hearts out for the crown, and because the fourpoints office is located in Grand Rapids, we were invited to attend the preliminary pageant event. Being my first pageant, anticipation for the talent, interview, bathing suit, and evening wear performances was high. But what impressed me the most about the contestants (apart from the courage of walking on stage in a bikini) was something Miss Michigan 2011, Elizabeth Wertenberger said.
"The crown is a microphone."
Because of local, state, and national pageants, young women involved in MAO wear as Elizabeth put it, "more than an accessory." The crown to MAO titleholders is a microphone through which hundreds of women past, present, and future can advocate for their platforms, and speak volumes as representatives of womens' empowerment.
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints editorial coordinator