“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.”
- William Faulkner
Even more important than graduating and going through the ceremonial process, I fulfilled a family dream by graduating from Ole Miss.
My dad always wanted to attend the University of Mississippi... but couldn’t afford to. He was the first member of his family to go to college.
He paid his way through school entirely on his own and graduated from the University of Memphis.
He didn’t attend his own college graduation, because he needed to work and he needed the money more than he wanted to attend the ceremony.
My dad pushed his dreams aside for the time being so that he could work to create opportunities for his future family to achieve anything they wanted by laying the groundwork for endless possibilities.
I’ll never forget the day I graduated from this beloved University.
I’ll never be able to describe what it meant to look at my family, my grandmother, my parents, my sister, my cousins, my friends, my family.... to know that I was fulfilling a dream that my father wanted me to have the chance to achieve, and gave me that possibility through his sacrifice and hard work.
I'll close this post out with one of my favorite quotes about the University of Mississippi from Frank Everett Jr.;
The University is buildings, trees, and people. Ole Miss is mood, emotion, and personality. One is physical, and the other is spiritual. One is tangible, and the other intangible.There is a valid distinction between The University and Ole Miss even though the separate threads are closely interwoven.
The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss.
All my love,
I've finally been able to catch up on sleep and start the unpacking process back home-- I wanted to sit down and write out an extended version of my thoughts and thank you's to the immeasurable amount of people who played a role in helping me pursue my dreams and achieve my goals.
My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was just 8 years old and my mom and I cared for him 3-4 days a week for 11 years. He had a dog named Curly that he loved dearly — he couldn’t have Curly in his memory care unit so we kept him and took him to see grandpa on each visit. I’ll never forget the day grandpa passed away... I was driving to say goodbye because the time had come and I was speeding down the highway to make it in time. But I didn’t. Mom and Curly were there. Curly crawled up in my grandpa’s lap and snuggled up to him, and grandpa drew his last breath. I didn’t say goodbye, because that’s just what Alzheimer’s disease does. It rips away memories and so much more from the lives it touches.
My mission has been and will always continue to be finding a cure for this awful disease and to fight to protect the people who are left in the wake of the disease usually struggling with health or medical bills of their own, sometimes even struggling to put food on the table due to Alzheimer’s related care costs.
So While I’m heading home from Atlantic City, you can find me in Chattanooga doing my job and “ walking the walk” with all 5 beagles back in Tennessee. And I’m pretty excited to do just that, because I’m just getting started.
I am overjoyed to have been so loved and supported the entire time I was in AC! I am so unbelievably grateful to have had support from my state, my alma mater school, my graduate school, my home town, my sorority sisters, my friends, my family, and so many more who made this an adventure of a lifetime and made me so proud to represent the state of Tennessee and the 16 million Americans caregiving for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
My work has only just begun and in no way will be slowed or diminished or otherwise— Alzheimers is the MOST EXPENSIVE disease in our nation and it is my DUTY to continue advocating and fighting for a cure.
I am so honored to come home as a state ambassador for CMN hospitals and to love on all of the precious children across my state that need hugs and hands to hold during their chemo and other live saving treatments. I’m so lucky to be coming home to work for the Governor visiting the children in Tennessee’s schools and to speak about the character trait of respect and how that manifests to any and all ages.
What an incredible year I am about to embark on!!
Tennessee, I am THRILLED to come home to you and to serve you this year.
Let’s do this!
I put together a Miss Tennessee 2018 Recap for Friends and Family Unable to Attend the pageant or that want to watch competition videos from various segments and appearances during the week!
All my love,
I don't even know where to start --
I am so humbled and honored to have the opportunity of a lifetime to serve
for the next 365 days as Miss Tennessee, and to continue making an impact well beyond those days.
I wanted to sit down and organize my thoughts and thank you to everyone who made this possible, encouraged me, or was a part of this five year journey.
It has truly been about the journey more than the destination, and I can't wait to see what this new adventure holds!
David Camp -- we did it!! The hours upon hours at Panera, in my living room, and over the phone preparing for interview paid off! thank you so, so much for selflessly giving your time and talents to help me present my best self to the judges in the interview room. Love ya so much!
Jonah & Grace - the two best friends I could ever ask for- what on EARTH would I do without you guys?? We have laughed, we have cried, we have celebrated, we have been through so much that life has thrown at us and I am so grateful I have been given two of the most incredible and supportive friends anyone could ask for! I am so thrilled to have you both my side for the crazy ride leading up to this moment and for all the adventures we have yet to find!
Uncle Rocky & Uncle Tony,
I am so lucky to have you both as family - and to have two uncles that would move heaven and earth to be in Jackson and celebrate this special, once in a lifetime moment! I will never forget Friday night of my talent performance-- I was SO nervous and I was so scared that I would mess up and full on shaking by the time I came off stage-- it was completely silent in the crowd when I finished for about five seconds, until I saw Uncle Rocky Jump up and start cheering -- he was the only person in the audience I could see through the stage lights and I LOVE that moment in time!
There's a lot of work to be done ahead, but I'm excited to be well on my way and to have the opportunity to represent Tennessee at Miss America.
I'm so excited to have the chance to make a positive impact on my state and on the lives of thousands of children that I'll have the chance to visit this year.
I am so incredibly humbled and honored to have been chosen to represent our state, and to travel 80,000 amazing miles this year, and for the 365 days I have as Miss Tennessee to leave my mark on our state and in the legacy of Miss Tennessee.
I promise to make every single day count.
All my love & gratitude,
Following the completion of Top 12's individual performances in Talent,
The Top 10 will be announced as they each come out to compete in the evening gown competition.
Following the Evening Gown Competition, all of the contestants in the Top 10 will parade onstage and the Top 5 will be called from the line up.
Finally, The Top 5 will compete in a final onstage question competition that counts for 20% of their score.
The judges then make their decision, and from there, the scores are tabulated, and the runners up and the new Miss Tennessee are announced!
"Pageant hangover" is real y'all.
This time change "springing forward" (I would love to know who invented that and how we can get rid of it?!?) and going back to Eastern time in my corner of the state has my internal body clock all kinds of confused.
It's been one glittery ride so far and I can't wait to see what sparkly things lie ahead.
Thanks for sticking it out with me and making it through these rhinestoned adventures.
All my love,
(okay so i'm not "totally done", i had to pop a few more pictures in this post from the craziness and jam packed fabulous happenings of workshop weekend!)
In case you couldn't tell based on the title of this blog post, This week is Children's Hospital Week!
I'm so excited that MAO is participating in the 2nd annual Children's Hospital Week to raise awareness for Children's hospitals in local communities and to fundraise for said hospitals.
if you know me, you know CMNH is one of my first loves. The kids in these hospitals and their families are such resilient, incredible people and it's an honor to even be a small part of their lives.
To raise awareness for this week, CMNH is asking everyone to take a photo with a bandaid on, with the name of someone that means a lot to you or someone you know who was treated at a CMN hospital on the bandaid, and post that to social media!
If you want to watch the Facebook live I filmed with Erlanger Children's (my local CMN hospital) click this link here!
Thanks for keeping up with this rhinestone studded adventure, y'all.
All my love,
Today's the day!
March 2nd is Read Across America Day in honor of Dr. Seuss's Birthday!
State titleholders across the nation partner with CITGO to promote literacy initiatives in their home states for the entire "Read Across America Week"!
Additionally, local titleholders across America partner with this initiative during Read Across America Day by going into schools and reading our favorite Dr. Seuss Novels to children to encourage a lifelong love of reading and learning.
I had the pleasure of reading at several different schools in the Hamilton County / Chattanooga area today, and every single class was even more precious than the one before it, (but they were all so adorable how do you compare??)
I hope you all celebrated by reading your favorite novels, books, and poems and encouraged the children around you to do the same!
How cute are these KINDERGARTNERS i got to read with??
Thanks for catching up on my rhinestone studded adventures, y'all!
All my love,
What's that? You need another reason to purchase one of these adorable caps?
Well $2 from Every cap sold from Emmaline's boutique in Downtown Chattanooga goes to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and those funds stay local to my local CMN hospital of Erlanger!
If you want to purchase one of these baseball hats, click the link here!
if you want to generously donate to my CMNH fundraising campaign, click this link here!
Thanks for reading my rhinestoned ramblings, guys!
All my love,
It's the best fundraising Day EVER.
Who doesn't love getting a free short stack AND help make miracles happen??
(literally no one. everyone loves pancakes!)
So pop on by your nearest iHop and make your donation to CMNH and get your free short stack!
You just might see someone in a crown too!
Thanks for reading all about my rhinestone'd fundraising adventures, y'all!
All my love,
On Wednesday, March 7th, I will be traveling from Chattanooga, to our state's capitol in Nashville to make my voice heard and speak to our legislators about recognizing Alzheimer's disease as the public health issue that it is.
Learn more about why I'm going in the video below!
I hope you choose to join me and make your voice heard in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Let's speak to our elected officials about how they can join us in the fight to #ENDALZ, because our #MemoriesMatter -- and so do the memories of the 110,000 diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
To join us or for more information about the day on the hill, click here, or visit www.alz.org/tn!
Thanks for keeping up with all my (purple) rhinestone studded adventures, y'all.
All my love,