I'll be completely honest: I left Miss America feeling disappointed, not because I have regrets about my performance (I still feel I was a strong competitor in every area of competition and I finished knowing I did my absolute best), but because this dream I have been working toward for the past 6 years was over so quickly. My week at Miss America was incredible, and it flew by! At times I found myself in complete awe of where I was and what I was doing. We were 53 of almost 13,000 young women who wanted to be in our shoes, and for that blessing, I am so thankful. After prelims were over, I felt confident that I would be competing on national television on January 14, and I was very sad, even heartbroken, when the results were otherwise. In fact, I needed a few minutes of alone time to hug my mom, cry, and compose myself before returning to face and thank everyone who came to support me at Miss America. This experience has reminded me of several things: 1) Life isn't always fair, but I can still learn and grow from those experiences; 2) God's plan is better than my own. I still don't understand why the results were as they were, but I have faith that God has an important purpose and plan for me; 3) There is nothing more important to me than the love and support of my family and friends.
I cannot even begin to thank everyone enough for the many messages, cards, and prayers that were sent my way before, during, and after Miss America week. Thank you to the slews of people who spent the time and money to come support me in Las Vegas. I cannot express how much I LOVED running into my "Minnesota people" as we were shuffled around in single file lines lead by body guards through Planet Hollywood. Seeing your smiling faces made my day! I don't even know what to do about the hundreds of Facebook notifications I have. If you sent something that needs a reply, and I haven't responded yet, please try again. I promise I'm not ignoring you! I will never take a hiatus from Facebook again! Ooftah! Thank you to the people who hosted AWESOME Miss America viewing parties. It was so fun to see the pictures you posted! Thank you all for letting me represent you on the Miss America stage. I wish the outcome would have been what we all hoped for, but I am so thankful for being recognized as a Quality of Life Award finalist for my platform of autism awareness. For those of you that know me well, you understand that my passion for my platform is the number one reason I stayed involved with the Miss America Organization for all these years. I love my brother Trevor so much, and it has been an honor and a privilege to use my position as Miss Minnesota to improve his life and the lives of others facing similar challenges.
I am beyond excited for the rest of my year as Miss Minnesota. I look forward to continuing to promote my personal platform as well as the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and getting to know the young ladies who are just beginning their journeys to the Miss Minnesota stage this June. At the end of the day, becoming Miss Minnesota wasn't JUST about being able to compete at Miss America, amazing as that was; it was about the voice and opportunities I have been given for personal growth and development and to improve the lives of others. I can't wait to see what is in store for the rest of this year and my life.
God bless you all! See you soon!